Cleveland Fire Brigade is appealing to the public for support after violent attacks on firefighters left one fire engine damaged.

Firefighters were called to attend a wheelie bin fire on Cass House Road in Hemlington in the early hours of Monday 17 August. On arrival around thirty youths were found setting fire to wheelie bins and wood. They became violent and gave crews verbal abuse and threw missiles, damaging one fire engine.

Repeated entrapment calls were received and Cleveland Police attended to support firefighters, but both services came under even more abuse. Steve Johnson, Senior Area Manager Prevention and Engagement said: “It is completely unacceptable for our staff to be subject to violence and acts of vandalism whilst protecting the public.

“Our job is made even more difficult by the thoughtless actions of a minority who in this instance deliberately set fires and damaged a fire engine, making that vehicle unavailable for emergency response.

“Such violence puts firefighters at risk of injury or even worse and Cleveland Fire Brigade will not tolerate such attacks. Our vehicles are fitted with CCTV cameras and staff are equipped with body cams and we will use any evidence we have to support the police to secure a prosecution of anyone who has been violent towards our staff.

Deliberate fires such as these divert resources and run the risk of us not being able to respond to a life threatening incident.”

A Cleveland Police Spokesperson said: “In the early hours of this morning, police received several reports of anti-social behaviour in the Cass House Road area of Hemlington.

“It was reported that a large group of adults and youths were causing damage to nearby properties and vehicles and were burning items in the middle of the road. When colleagues from Cleveland Fire Brigade attended, they were subjected to abuse.

“This type of behaviour will not be tolerated under any circumstances and our colleagues from the fire service should not be attacked when they go work.

“Officers are investigating the incident and are carrying out enquiries to try to trace who is responsible. Anyone who information regarding the incident or those responsible is asked to contact Cleveland Police on 101 quoting 133867”.

Just last month the emergency services came together to condemn assaults on staff. Cleveland Fire Brigade, Cleveland Police and North East Ambulance Service came together after an increase in such attacks during lockdown.

Cleveland Fire Brigade saw 13 incidents during March, April and May, including a tree trunk thrown through the windscreen of a fire engine and bricks aimed at crews as they tackled a garden fire that threatened to spread to other properties.