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Last Updated: Friday, 11 July, 2003, 15:37 GMT 16:37 UK
Fire crews' anger over attacks
Smashed fire engine window
Fire crews have reported attacks by gangs
Fire crews in Scotland's largest brigade have said they may refuse to attend emergency calls in some areas without a police escort.

The warning follows a dramatic increase in the number of attacks on firefighters.

Figures for Strathclyde Fire Brigade have shown a rise in incidents from 13 two years ago, to 96 in the past year.

It has prompted moves to install closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras in the cabs of fire appliances, although unions have expressed concern the plan could provoke attacks.

Andrew Shuttleworth, assistant firemaster for Strathclyde, said he was mystified as to why they should be the target.

"Firefighters are men and women who go out daily and put their lives on the line," he said.

"They've got a difficult enough job to do when they arrive at a fire, the last thing they need is to have to watch their back in case they are subject to an attack, so it makes me very angry."

It may be their own families in danger if they are stopping us from doing their jobs properly
James Young,
Crews have described being attacked by groups of youths with chains and even knives.

Firefighter James Young said: "You're there to help the people and I don't think the youths realise the danger they are putting other people in.

"It may be their own families in danger if they are stopping us from doing their jobs properly."

The brigade is to put CCTV cameras in some of its fire appliances, but the Fire Brigades Union is concerned it may be counter-productive.

The union's Sandy McNiven said there was evidence from other brigades that attacks have sometimes increased.

"People have turned up with balaclavas on in defiance of the cameras, so we have some concerns there," he said.

The service has stepped up its education campaign and has appointed new officers to talk to schoolchildren about the importance of the service and the dangers the attacks present.

Fireman injured in brick attack
22 Mar 03  |  Northern Ireland

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