'I could have been killed or seriously injured' - firefighter's warning after vehicle was attacked

A firefighter who could have been killed is pleading with troublemakers not to attack emergency service crews.
Watch Manager Graeme MacDonald holding a 12” metal scaffolding bar like the one thrown at the appliance.Watch Manager Graeme MacDonald holding a 12” metal scaffolding bar like the one thrown at the appliance.
Watch Manager Graeme MacDonald holding a 12” metal scaffolding bar like the one thrown at the appliance.

In the early hours of August 31, 2019, a crew from Byker Community Fire Station were attending a road traffic collision in Walker.

It had been reported that the vehicle had flipped on to its roof – and the occupants were still trapped inside.

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As the crew made their way to the scene, a 12-inch scaffolding pole was viciously thrown, smashing the windscreen.

Watch Manager Graeme MacDonald said: “I could’ve been killed or seriously injured.”

This incident is being highlighted at one of the busiest times of the year for Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service in the run up to Bonfire Night – where incidents of anti-social behaviour (ASB) and attacks on firefighters are rife.

This was recently reinforced as TWFRS disclosed that since the start of 2021 there have been 50 ASB attacks on firefighters in the area.

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WM MacDonald, 36, who lives in North Tyneside, said: "Think about what you are doing before you act: at the end of the day, I want to go home and see my family.

"I'm married with children and I want to safely return to my wife, son and daughter.

“I also want to make sure that my crew are safe as well. It's not a game. It's not fun.

"Incidents of anti-social behaviour create significant implications and what those individuals are doing has a real effect on people’s professional and family lives.

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“Not only do their actions have consequences but it also means that the fire engine isn't available to attend other incidents. It also has cost implications for the public.

“The incident I was involved in has stayed with me, and I wouldn't want any other crews up and down the country to experience the same ordeal.”

Graeme, who father was a firefighter, has been with Tyne and Wear FRS for over 11 years and has served at Byker, Newcastle Central, Low Fell, Sunderland Central and Wallsend.

He added: “The incident made me feel like I wasn't valued by the local community and I know that isn’t true.

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"But it made me think if they could attack us in this way, then who else could?

“Firefighters are here to help the local community and that's what this job is all about at the end of the day.

"Whether individuals make the wrong decision in the heat of the moment that's not for me to argue.

"It's for me to turn up for work and do my job to the best of my ability."

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Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Peter Heath of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Any attacks on firefighters and other emergency services colleagues on Bonfire Night or any other night of the year is unacceptable.

"We aren’t just talking about a person risking their life day in, day out.

"We are talking about a real person who wants to serve their community and return home safely after work.

“Firefighters, like all other emergency workers, should be treated with respect and dignity, in the manner they deserve.

"These acts of violence against our crews won’t be tolerated and the individuals responsible for these actions will be brought to justice with help from our partners.”