AF&RS condemns Bonfire Night attack on firefighters

Avon Fire and Rescue (AF&RS) has condemned an attack on firefighters over Bonfire Night (5/11).

One crew from Bedminster fire station was attending an out-of-control bonfire on Rodfords Mead in Hengrove when they were attacked by a firework and rocket.

Fortunately, the bonfire was on open ground so crews were able to withdraw due to safety concerns.

Firefighters later returned to the area with the assistance of police and extinguished the fire with one high-pressure hose reel.

Harry Awaramenko, Group Manager for AF&RS, said: “This is a completely unacceptable incident and one that firefighters should never have to face.

“Our crews were called out to a bonfire and attacked while simply trying to do their job.

“Unfortunately this isn’t unique and it is quite worrying that attacks like this are occurring, not only here, but across the country.

“Fireworks can be extremely dangerous when used in this way. Thankfully this time none of the firefighters were harmed but this is a completely unacceptable act and one that we hope we don’t see again.”

The attack comes just a week after AF&RS teamed up with emergency services from across the South West to launch the #Unacceptable campaign.

Police, ambulance, fire and healthcare staff are regularly subjected to attacks including serious injury, verbal abuse, spitting and biting, and even sexual assault from those they are trying to help.

A spokesperson for Avon And Somerset Police added: "Emergency service personnel put their lives on the line to keep the public safe every day and don't join the service to be physically or emotionally abused.

"Colleagues regularly go to work knowing that they may be assaulted, something you wouldn't expect in most other professions as part of your job.

"Assaults against emergency service staff will not be tolerated and we will bring criminal proceedings against anyone who commits such an offence, which could result in a prison sentence.

"We are united with our blue light colleagues on this issue."

It was a busy night for AF&RS, with crews responding to 25 bonfire related calls and five firework related calls across the service area.

The large majority of these were false alarms with good intent but some did require the intervention of firefighters, including one incident where a rogue firework had caught a hedge on fire.