Yorkshire firefighter temporarily blinded after being hit by firework
A West Yorkshire firefighter who was temporarily blinded when a firework was thrown at him has spoken about the shocking attack.
Dave Gillian, who is also a Fire Brigades Union rep has spoken as a special investigation by the Yorkshire Post has revealed were more than 900 attacks on firefighters responding to emergencies across the UK in 2018/19.
In West Yorkshire alone there has been 379 attacks on firefighters in the last five years.
Mr Gillian was hit by the firework around Bonfire Night three years ago after being called to a fire at a lamppost in Keighley.
The 40-year-old said: “We got a call-out to a lamppost on fire, which is a bit of a strange one, I’ve never come across that before.
“There was a plate at the bottom with electronics behind it and that was smouldering, so we went down there. I think it had basically been laid as a trap to get us down there.
“As we were looking at it to work out what to do with it, fireworks came raining down on us.
“We were near a fence and they were basically hitting the fence and bouncing back at our feet and going off there.
“Nobody was hurt, we had our protective gear on, but one exploded between my feet. My main instinct was to put my hose on it but before I could do that, it went off.
“I got temporarily blinded, I couldn’t see for a few seconds, and we all had ringing ears for a few days.”
Mr Gillian said he believed one of the reasons fire crews were targeted was because they were seen as an authority figure.
He described attacking firefighters as “crazy and wrong”.
But he said perpetrators were often from deprived areas and had been “starved of opportunity”, adding that the answer was to invest in youth services and education.
Mr Gillian said he wasn’t surprised that the Protect the Protectors law had so far had little effect on those who attack firefighters.
He said: “I suspect there is not one single one of them who would know about this legislation, so I think it’s a bit of gesture politics unfortunately.”
A government spokesman said: “Being attacked should never be part of the job for our firefighters, which is why we have been clear about the need for better protection and stronger sentences.
“We have supported the Assaults on Emergency Workers Act, which means individuals who attack firefighters could face double the jail time.”