11/08/2008

Minister Condemns Attacks On Fire Crews

Attacks on fire crews place their lives in danger and put communities at risk, said Public Safety Minister Michael McGimpsey today.

Condemning a further spate of attacks on firefighters in Dungannon and Londonderry over the weekend, the Minister said it was absolutely unacceptable for anyone to assault emergency workers.

The fire crews were attacked in two separate incidents in the early hours of Sunday morning.

About 40 youths in Fahan Street in Londonderry stoned the crews as they dealt with a car fire with bottles also thrown in the incident shortly before 2am, with the crews called out to the same car fire three times.

In Dungannon, a fire engine window was broken after a crew attending a wheelie bin on fire at Newell Road were attacked with stones at about 1am.

Minister McGimsey said: "Given the importance of firefighters in protecting our communities, I am extremely disappointed that I am once again having to condemn further attacks on them.
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"Our firefighters put their lives on the line every day to save lives in their communities. By attacking them, these people are attacking the whole community. Their actions are cowardly and totally unacceptable.

"There is a very real risk that if these attacks continue, a firefighter will be seriously injured or equipment may be damaged, resulting in a fire engine not being available for a real emergency.

"I would ask the perpetrators of this violence to think of these very serious consequences before engaging in this dangerous, criminal and anti-social behaviour."

Meanwhile, it has emerged that a fire which damaged three homes in Londonderry's Waterside on Sunday afternoon was started deliberately, the Fire and Rescue Service has said.

Firefighters managed to limit the outbreak to a shed at Benvarden Avenue but some damage was also caused to the exterior of three neighbouring houses.

An oil tank inside the shed was almost empty and neighbours raised the alarm quickly.

(BMcC)

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