Fire crew attacked with bricks in Birkenhead – Merseyside Fire & Rescue appeal for witnesses

In a statement from Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service (MFRS), an appeal is made to anyone who witnessed an attack on a fire crew in Bentinck Street around 8pm last night. Their message is simple; “Don’t attack your emergency services. An attack on us is an attack on your community. Respect your community. Respect the emergency services. Respect yourself.”

Following a night when the vast majority of Wirral residents enjoyed family fireworks in their back gardens, a tiny minority took it upon themselves to create trouble and put the already stretched emergency services under immense pressure on what is traditionally a very busy night, for fire, police and ambulance services.

Merseyside Police said, “We want to thank the majority who abided by regulations & enjoyed themselves safely & responsibly” and that the total calls they received between 2-11pm increased by 3.3% compared to last year, while reports of criminal damage & arson decreased.

Damage to the MFRS car the team member was in.

If you have any information that you feel my be useful regarding the investigation, you can call Merseyside Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Wirral residents expressed their sympathy towards the injured crew member, whose condition is currently unknown, and their anger at those responsible. Linda Withers said in a Facebook post, “Absolutely disgusting, they shouldn’t even have been out. What are their parents doing letting kids go out during lockdown.” These sentiments were shared by the hundreds who commented on the MFRS post.

Kelly Parsley sent her best wishes to the crew member and thanked those who worked in the fire service. This appreciation was mentioned in many of the comments on the Facebook post.

Crews across the UK also came under attack last night. Fire crews in Tyne & Wear, Scotland, Wales, Northumberland & Humberside have all reported attacks on Bonfire Night.

The injured staff member, from the MFRS Prevention Team, suffered a facial injury. They were assessed by paramedics last night but fortunately did not require hospital treatment.

Firefighters attended 55% more deliberately set fires across Merseyside on Bonfire Night, Thursday 5th November, than on the same date last year.
MFRS attended 78 deliberately set ASB (anti-social behaviour fires which include bonfires, wheelie bin, and rubbish fires between 00:00 hours and 23.59 hours on Bonfire Night, as opposed to 35 on November 5th 2019.

Liverpool saw the highest number of deliberately set fires, with fire crews attending 38 deliberate fires, up from 21 in 2019 (45% increase).

Although lower in terms of incidents, all areas the Service covers across Merseyside saw an increase in deliberately set fires, with Sefton increasing from 2 deliberately set fires in 2019 up to 11 in 2020 (82% increase).

Knowsley saw the next largest increase going from 3 in 2019 to 11 in 2020 (72% increase), St Helens going up from 4 in 2019 to 9 in 2020 (56% increase) and Wirral going up from 4 in 2019 to 9 in 2020 (44% increase).
MFRS also attended over 72% more potentially dangerous bonfires.

Firefighters attended 68 potentially dangerous bonfires on November 5th 2020, compared to 19 in 2019. Liverpool saw the highest number of such bonfires – with fire crews attending 33 in Liverpool, with Knowsley, Sefton and St Helens each recording 9 and Wirral recording 8. All areas saw a significant increase compared to last year.

The MFRS issued the statement last night and this is it in full:

“We are extremely disappointed to report that a member of our Prevention Team has been injured this evening while carrying out their duties in Birkenhead.

“The staff member has suffered a facial injury after the MFRS vehicle they were travelling in had a brick thrown at it. The windscreen of the vehicle has been smashed.

“Tonight has also seen firefighters come under attack from people throwing fireworks. This is not an acceptable way to treat your emergency services and it will not be tolerated. All MFRS staff, whether they be operational firefighters, part of our prevention & protection teams, volunteers, support staff, Control Operators – they are all part of the emergency services family and go above and beyond each day to keep the people of Merseyside safe.

“We know that this despicable behaviour is carried out by a small minority and the communities of Merseyside are full of good people who will be outraged by this. If you were responsible for this, please take a look in the mirror and ask if you are proud of yourself. If your children are out this evening and they have been involved in antisocial behaviour, have a word with them about their actions.

“Attacking the emergency services is not ‘a laugh’, it’s not harmless fun. Attacking an emergency service worker is a criminal offence. These are real people with families at home waiting for them at the end of their shift. They are mums, dads, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, uncles and aunties – how would you feel if someone attacked your family, your loved ones in this way?

“Tonight is proving to be an extremely busy night for our firefighters, Control Room staff and prevention teams. Since 4pm, Fire Control Operators have taken more than 300 calls, the majority of which are to bonfires on public land. Many of these also involve the attendance of large numbers of people in clear breach of COVID-19 regulations.

“Yes, it’s Bonfire Night and we want people to have fun but we are in a national lockdown – bonfires on public land are simply NOT allowed. Now is the time to pull together to keep our communities safe.

“We’re not out to ruin your fun. Our firefighters and prevention teams out in the community are just doing their job. They do not deserve to be verbally and physically assaulted as they do this. If you’re out this evening, at a public bonfire or fireworks display, please do the right thing and go home. Help ease the pressure on us and all emergency services. Remember, we can’t be in two places at once. Don’t attack your emergency services. An attack on us is an attack on your community. Respect your community. Respect the emergency services. Respect yourself.”

In related news, bus operator Arriva North West suspended services on the Beechwood Estate yesterday from about 6:20pm

Busses were diverted away from the area surrounding Birkenhead Park shortly before 5pm, due to anti-social behaviour.

Around £4,000 worth of damage was caused to seven Arriva buses in Wirral that had their windows smashed after rocks were thrown at them.

If you have any information that you feel my be useful regarding the investigation, you can call Merseyside Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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