Petrol Bomb thrown at firefighters in West Denton in 'worst attack' in England in recent years
A fire service has said it will not attend call-outs in an area of Newcastle without police support following what was described as the "worst attack" that's ever happened in Tyne and Wear.
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service made the call about West Denton following an incident on Saturday 14 January, when teenagers are reported to have thrown a petrol bomb and heavy glass bottle at firefighters.
Emergency services had been called to the area at about 6:30pm to reports of a car fire.
It's alleged that the group of around six teenagers, aged approximately 14-years-old, then prevented crews from leaving the area by barricading the fire appliance using sandbags and fencing.
Chief Fire Officer Chris Lowther said it was one of the worst attacks he's seen in his 26-year career.
Mr Lowther said: "The firefighter's job is to protect the community and my job is to protect my firefighters.
"I know these firefighters and I was only speaking to them last week about what is happening in that area and they were genuinely shaken up and genuinely concerned.
"The glass bottle just whipped past the driver's ear. If that had hit him, it could have been life-changing injuries that he could have had."
In a move to protect firefighters, an exclusion zone has been put in place, meaning the fire service will not attend calls to a fire in West Denton unless there is a police escort and a risk assessment has been carried out.
Mr Lowther said it is rare for the service to take such drastic action; it was last seen during the Meadow Well riots in the 1990s.
He added he will be working with local politicians, the Police and Crime Commissioner, the Chair of the Fire Authority, Northumbria Police and Newcastle City Council to ensure the issue on anti-social behaviour is resolved in the area.
"We as a community need to stop this happening," he said.
"People will know who is doing this and they need to be reported. They need to remember that firefighters are people's wives, husbands, sons and daughters and they deserve to go home safely after their shift.
"Firefighters risk their lives enough without being attacked by a very small, but very dangerous, minority in our community.
"The community of West Denton is better than this. The community of Tyne and Wear is better than this. We are better than this and we've got to stop this together."
Mr Lowther also took to social media on Sunday to share his concerns about the incident.
He wrote: "Last night, @Tyne_Wear_FRS crews from West Denton suffered some of the worst attacks I've known in my 26 year career.
"They were barricaded in an area where a car was deliberately set on fire and had petrol bombs thrown at them. Petrol bombs. This escalation can’t go unanswered."
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