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Tuesday 11 December 2018

'Fatality inevitable' in attacks on fire crews

Louise Hogan

A FIREfighter or paramedic will be killed if something is not done to halt attacks on emergency crews, according to fire brigade representatives.

A union official last night warned the incidents, often involving large crowds of youths, would eventually cause the death of a fire fighter or paramedic working to protect the community.

Fire crews were attacked by stone-throwing youths at two separate blazes in the Ballymun area of north Dublin on Tuesday night.

Two paramedics also required hospital treatment after they were assaulted while responding to a call over the weekend in southwest Dublin .

Richard Hedderman, assistant chief officer with the Dublin Fire Brigade, also warned that assaults against firefighters and paramedics have "picked up with a vengeance in the last couple of weeks" in the run-up to Halloween.

The fire chief urged community leaders to stand up and publicly discourage attacks in their areas.

He said the brigade would continue to respond to calls in areas where they had been attacked, but may seek a garda escort.

The chairman of SIPTU's Dublin Fire Brigade branch, John Kidd, warned the attacks would result in an emergency worker being killed, maimed or seriously injured. He said 90 people were injured during their work for the fire service each year.

Shattered

Bottles were thrown at three units of the Dublin Fire Brigade as they battled to extinguish a blaze at a derelict apartment in a block of flats at Caultry Road.

A windscreen was shattered and fire-fighting equipment was also stolen in the incident which occurred around 7pm.

A short time later on nearby Shanganagh Road, an ambulance crew was attacked.

Station officer at Dolphins Barn in Dublin, David Kavanagh (48), has been stoned and had sticks thrown at him.

However, for him, one of the worst and most insulting encounters was a time he was spat at.

He also spoke of a fireman who was stabbed when he confronted someone who was attempting to steal something off their engine as they responded to a call. In another incident, a fireman was bitten.

In the current society, he said a firefighter losing their life from assault during their work was "always a possibility".

David explained that a person had recently threatened to shoot one of the firemen when they had responded to a call.

In many cases, fire engines are being taken off the road for several hours after the windscreens are shattered by bottles.

"That fire engine might be needed to respond to that person's mother, grandmother or brother," he said. "They don't realise the danger they are causing to someone who needs us."

This Halloween night Dublin Fire Brigade expects to respond to between 1,200 to 1,300 calls.

Irish Independent

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