Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 29 November 2014

Fireman back on duty 24 hours after attack on engine

A firefighter who was showered with glass when a brick was thrown at the windscreen of his fire engine as he attended a blaze was back on duty less than 24 hours later.

Downpatrick-based fireman Peter O’Hare was driving the vehicle in the Flying Horse estate in the Co Down town following reports of a fire at 10.30pm on Saturday.

As the fire engine approached the blaze, a youth ran into the middle of the road and threw a brick at the windscreen.

Mr O’Hare, who has been a retained firefighter in Downpatrick for two decades and is from the town, was showered with glass and suffered cuts to his face and glass dust in his eyes.

Speaking yesterday, Mr O’Hare said he was determined to get straight back to work.

He said the incident had shaken him up but he had sustained no long-term injuries.

Mr O’Hare said he was approaching the fire when a youth in a black hooded-top ran onto the road and threw something at the windscreen, shattering the glass.

He was able to brace himself for the impact and maintain control of the 17 tonne engine.

The other five crew members on board were unharmed.

A pile of rubbish had been set on fire in the middle of the housing development.

The firefighters at the scene assessed the blaze and deemed it to be no significant risk to the public.

Mr O’Hare — whose face was covered in blood — was then taken to hospital for treatment.

Fire Service district commander Alan Fulford said such attacks hurt the whole community.

“It has a lot of consequences,” he said.

“Our firefighters do a lot of work up there, our firefighters belong to the community. It causes a few problems for us in that we're more wary going up there, it slows down the appliances.

“In that case the appliance didn't get to the call at all.”

Mr Fulford said he was unsure if the fire was started deliberately to lure the Fire Service into the area.

And he said that at the time of the attack Downpatrick's only other appliance was at another incident.

He said that with one appliance down for a short period of time, had a rescue been required it could have had devastating consequences for those at risk.

The windscreen was repaired shortly after the attack.

Mr Fulford called on whoever was responsible to desist from any further attacks.

Anyone who witnessed the attack is asked to contact police on 0845 600 8000. Alternatively call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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