Fire Brigades Union press release
Wednesday 6 November 2019
For immediate release

Over 1,000 attacks on firefighters, as crews face bonfire night bombardment

There were 1,170 attacks on UK firefighters in the last year, according to new research from the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) [1]. This bonfire night saw “appalling” attacks on firefighters across the UK, as overstretched and under-resourced crews faced one of their busiest nights of the year.

In England there 961 attacks on firefighters in 2018/19 [2], up by 3% on the year before. Both Scotland [3] and Wales [4] saw attacks on firefighters rise by over a third, with 72 and 44 attacks respectively. There were 93 attacks in Northern Ireland in the same year, a five year low [5].

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said:

“The attacks we’ve seen on our hardworking firefighters are absolutely appalling. Firefighters put their own lives on the line to save others – they are a vital part of the community and will save anyone and everyone, regardless of who they are, which could even include their attackers.

“This bonfire night has seen attacks on overstretched and under-resourced crews across the country. The Tories have cut 11,500 firefighters since 2010 [6]; the last thing these crews need is to be attacked on one of their busiest nights of the year.”

There were six bonfire night attacks on Scottish firefighters, according to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. They responded to 665 incidents, including 359 bonfires, with control room operators handling 882 calls [7].

In Manchester, firefighters were attacked by a 40-person group throwing fireworks [8], while in Leeds a police helicopter was called in and several arrests made, after West Yorkshire fire and rescue service firefighters were attacked [9].

Ends

For more information, please contact Joe Karp-Sawey, FBU communications officer, on 078 2563 5224 or joe.karpsawey@fbu.org.uk

Alternatively, you can contact the FBU press office on 020 8481 1505 or press@fbu.org,uk

Notes for editors

  • For national spokespeople contact the press office via the details above. For local and regional spokespeople, please contact officials directly. You can find contact details for each region via this webpage: www.fbu.org.uk/contacts
  • The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is the professional and democratic voice of firefighters and other workers within fire and rescue services across the UK. The general secretary is Matt Wrack
  • The FBU is on Twitter: @fbunational and Facebook: facebook.com/FireBrigadesUnion1918 

[1] FBU calculations from sources below

[2] Home Office, Fire Statistics Data Tables: FIRE0510: Attacks on firefighters during operational incidents 

[3] Scottish fire and rescue service: Fire Safety and Organisational Statistics

[4] Welsh government figures obtained by FBU

[5] JPI Media FOI: https://www.harboroughmail.co.uk/news/figures-show-alarming-increase-attacks-firefighters-leicestershire-821446

[6] FBU FOI research https://www.fbu.org.uk/publication/fire-rescue-service-matters-firefighter-jobs-see-slight-increase-after-years-cuts

[7] Scottish fire and rescue service: https://www.firescotland.gov.uk/news-campaigns/news/2019/11/firefighters-attended-more-than-350-fires-on-bonfire-night.aspx

[8] BBC News: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-50313940

[9] BBC News: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leeds-50313620