Fire crews in West Yorkshire attacked 15 times on Bonfire Night

Rubbish burns in the street in Harehills, Leeds, last night. Picture: Ahmed Ibrahim
Rubbish burns in the street in Harehills, Leeds, last night. Picture: Ahmed Ibrahim
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Firefighters in West Yorkshire came under attack 15 times last night as they responded to calls across the county.

They included two incidents in Leeds, where police in riot gear had to intervene to disperse groups of youths burning items in the street.

West Yorkshire Fire Service said Friday and Saturday Night had been relatively calm, but its control room had received more than 1,000 calls on Bonfire Night itself.

Crews attended around 280 incidents yesterday, with more than 100 of those being bonfire related.

The service said its teams had been attacked 18 times over the course of the weekend.

Some attacks were aimed at firefighters in fire engines, while others were directed at ‘fire cars’ containing a police officer and fire officer.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Dave Walton said: “It is only through good fortune that we have not had a firefighter injured by this incredibly foolish behaviour on what has been a very busy night for us.

“We hope that by raising public awareness of these attacks we will see a public stance against attacks on firefighters and a change in legislation which will help safeguard our crews in the future."

He said the service was appreciative of the support shown by local MPs and councillors, a number of whom joined firefighters on the night to see the issues firsthand.

“We very much appreciate the backing of our local MPs who have seen first-hand what we face and are appalled by it, as we expect the vast majority of people are. Our firefighters did not join the job for this.”

Halifax MP Holly Lynch, Bradford South MP Judith Cummins and Coun Judith Hughes, who chairs the county's fire authority, spent Saturday night with crews to see for themselves what firefighters go through at this time of year.

Ms Lynch's experiences will help to shape the ‘Protect The Protectors’ legislation, which will create a new offence of assaulting an emergency service worker.

Chief Superintendent Mabs Hussain, of West Yorkshire Police, thanked communities who had worked with the emergency services to help thousands of people enjoy organised firework displays and smaller events at home.

But he went on to criticise the small minority who used the festivities as a "backdrop for mindless anti-social behaviour and violence".

“Over the weekend, we had reports of fireworks being directed at moving vehicles, properties and emergency service crews," he said.

"Many of the people doing this wouldn’t arm themselves with a knife or a gun, but don’t realise that using a firework as a weapon isn’t mischievous, it is highly dangerous.

“On Sunday evening several police vehicles were also damaged with stones and missiles. These vehicles are used to patrol in communities and respond to emergency calls from people when they are most in need, and they will now be off the road for repair.

“This will result in the actions of a mindless few denying their fellow residents the use of police resources intended to keep them safe."

A number of investigations are now under way into offences including criminal damage, arson and assault.

Anyone who witnessed any anti-social behaviour or offences is urged to call West Yorkshire Police on 101 or report it online here.