Belfast Telegraph

Children attack 999 crews at fire

Children as young as six are alleged to have been involved in |violent attacks on firefighters in north Belfast’s Oldpark area last weekend.

No firefighters were injured in the incidents but one of their |vehicles was damaged.

Area commander for operations Brian McClintock said between 30 and 40 young people were involved in the Oldpark Road incident, with some believed to be as young as six.

It’s thought they set fire to rubbish in a deliberate attempt to bring firefighters into the area. Alcohol was being consumed by many of the teenagers, he said.

“Young people causing this sort of activity need to have a bit of appreciation of the consequences, not just that the firefighters who are there to help could be injured, but when an appliance is tied up or damaged it could mean none is available elsewhere for a genuine emergency in the area and that could affect their own families.

“When a fire engine is damaged it comes out of the public purse. The public suffer for the actions of a few. This is not typical of people living in these areas, we’ve had a lot of co-operation from them,” Mr McClintock said.

A Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) spokesperson confirmed that NIFRS had been called just before 9pm on Sunday, February 27 to deal with a hedge on fire at |Brookfield Street.

“One appliance from Westland Fire Station attended the incident. Firefighters came under attack by youths throwing stones on the bend of Oldpark Road while en route to this incident.

“Fortunately on this occasion there were no injuries to any firefighters however the appliance suffered some damage to the |driver’s cab door.

“We would appeal to young people in the local area not to attack our firefighters who are only out doing their job.

“Firefighters are very much part of the local community, working tirelessly for the community to save lives and whose job is dangerous enough without this type of extra threat.”

Alliance Councillor Neil Kelly has expressed his disgust at the incident: “I am very concerned at reports suggesting that children were involved in these incidents. I would appeal to parents to |ensure that their children are not involved in this reckless and |destructive behaviour.

“I would also ask that all representatives across the community do all they can to stop such |attacks. Meetings have taken place involving community groups, emergency services including the fire service and the PSNI, and local representatives but this disgraceful activity continues.”

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