Ayrshire's top fire officer condemns attacks on firefighters

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AYRSHIRE’s fire chief has condemned attacks on his firefighters – and warned it will not be tolerated.

Local Senior Officer James Scott said crews who stand on the frontline to protect people should not be obstructed from carrying out their work.

And he vowed to work with police partners to identify the small minority of those responsible to ensure they face the consequences of their actions.

LSO Scott said: “Our firefighters' main purpose is to save lives. You can rest assured that they will always be there and standing on the front line to help at times of emergency.

“It therefore frustrating and disappointing when I hear that they have either been physically assaulted or verbally abused when trying to assist their communities.

“This is often down to a very small minority of individuals within those communities.

“I would like to take this opportunity to stress once again – as I have done in the past – that this will not be tolerated because our firefighters do not deserve to be met with such behaviour.

“We will identify those responsible and we will pass that intelligence to our police partners which can result in a variety of consequences such as affecting future employment prospects due to having a criminal record.”

LSO Scott spoke out after one man was last week convicted at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court of behaving in a threatening and abusive manner in the presence of firefighters and removing a smoke detector from a property in Stevenston on December 19, 2016.

The 27-year-old from Springside, Ayrshire was sentenced to 200-hours unpaid work and handed two years supervision.

The Ayrshire fire chief had previously condemned attacks on his firefighters.

On Bonfire Night last year one of his crews was attacked twice in the space of two hours.

Their appliance had been hit by objects thrown from a crowd when they attended an unorganised bonfire at St Margaret’s Road, Ardrossan.

Police had to escort the crew to extinguish the fire.

No injuries were sustained by the firefighters but damage to the appliance was discovered on return to the station.

The same crew was attacked at a similar incident two hours earlier in the town’s New England Road.

Latest stats show a firefighter is attacked in Scotland every three days – in the last six years there have been 590 incidents where staff have been physically or verbally abused or had objects thrown at appliances.

LSO Scott said: “This type of behaviour not only prevents our crews from bringing any emergency to a safe and swift conclusion but it can impact on our emergency service colleagues including the police when they have to escort us at the scene.

“This cannot be condoned.

“The communities of Ayrshire are all fantastic and they appreciate greatly the work of the fire service, and we would urge the majority of law abiding residents to alert the police to any such reckless activity.”

He also told how firefighters continue to serve at the very heart of their communities – as role models. They also support the most vulnerable people to stay safe at home.

LSO Scott said: “In Ayrshire we have a number of schemes for young people such as the Fire Reach and Young Firefighters courses as well as numerous Schools Engagement programmes.

“These projects promote home safety, teach vital skills like CPR and promote responsible citizenship.

“We do everything we can to protect communities and that includes our Home Fire Safety Visits where we will visit properties and install or check smoke detectors as well as provide general safety advice to residents.

“All of this therefore begs the question as to why anyone would abuse a firefighter.”

To report such incidents contact Police Scotland on 101 or alternatively through the anonymous Crimestoppers helpline on 0800 555 111.

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