Assaults on West Yorkshire fire crews ‘beggar belief’

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ATTACKING firefighters carrying out “vital” work across West Yorkshire has become a “badge of honour” to some, unions claim.

The warning comes as figures show firefighters were attacked more than 200 times in the last two years - with physical attacks, fireworks and missiles thrown at fire engines and lifesaving equipment damaged.

Pete Smith, acting executive council member for the Fire Brigades’ Union in Yorkshire, called on the Government to ensure to the Assaults on Emergency Service Workers Bill - which would bring in tougher sentences for attacks and is due for its Third Reading on April 27 - is passed. Mr Smith said: “If we are being attacked, it could mean time off due to injuries, meaning we cannot perform, help people, and ultimately, save lives. You wouldn’t expect somebody working in an office to be punched or hit by a plank of wood. The only deterrent will be through Parliament with stricter punishments and custodial sentences.”

On Saturday, the YEP exclusively revealed that thousands of police, firefighters, ambulance workers and hospital staff across Leeds and West Yorkshire had been assaulted at work in 2016 and 2017.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service saw 208 attacks during the period - include 12 physical attacks, seven of which involved the use of weapons.

The service’s Deputy Chief Fire Officer Dave Walton said its “zero tolerance” approach meant “each and every” attack was reported, but it was “simply unacceptable” to attribute such attacks to being part of the job.

The service recently signed a memorandum of understanding with West Yorkshire Police, pledging support in the wake of an attack. Deputy Chief Constable John Robins said: “Why anyone would want to hurt them beggars belief.”

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