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Last Updated: Monday, 8 March, 2004, 10:12 GMT
Firefighter's tour on violence
Sabrina Cohen
Firefighter Sabrina Cohen is to go on an eight-week tour studying violence
A firefighter from south Wales is planning an international fact-finding mission on how violence against fire crews is dealt with.

Sabrina Cohen, 21, from Cross Keys, near Newport, has won a scholarship to study the way other countries deal with violent acts against firefighters.

Violent attacks on fire crews in south Wales, including stonings by gangs of youths while on emergency calls, have risen recently.

Now a new committee set up by South Wales Fire Service to find ways of preventing these attacks will use the young firefighter's findings.

"Attacks on firefighters have become a real problem," said Ms Cohen, who has been in the fire service for three years.

"I wanted to research how other countries deal with the problems of attacks on firefighters.

So far we have adopted a softly softly approach but we realise that we have to take some steps on the problem of violence
Divisional commander Ray Jones

"I've already been to Israel to see how they cope with the problem as a start to the comparative study.

"And I've recently I applied for a scholarship to continue my study which was successful.

"In September, I start an eight week tour taking in South Africa and America to see how they cope with any violence against their firefighters."

Some fire crews covering south Wales are subjected to almost daily attacks from gangs of youths.

Fire chiefs say the problem is becoming more violent and prolific and reports of violence against crews are on the increase.

In October, a firefighter had to have emergency treatment after he was hit on the head by a brick thrown by a gang of youths.

'Positive steps'

The incident happened as a four-man crew tried to extinguish a rubbish fire in Trelewis near Merthyr Tydfil.

Youths stoned the fire engine before targeting the firefighters - hitting one of them on the head with a brick with such force that it split his helmet.

Ray Jones, divisional commander for South Wales Fire Service, hopes that the Attacks of Firefighters Group will be able to use some of Sabrina's research.

"So far we have adopted a softly softly approach but we realise that we have to take some steps on the problem of violence," he said.

"Last year one of our firefighters got struck on his helmet with a brick and so we set up this group to try and find some positive steps to prevent the problems."

Violent gangs target firefighters
21 Oct 03  |  South East Wales
Firefighter attacked by gang
24 Oct 03  |  South East Wales

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