The Mayor spoke out as Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service revealed the details of two shocking incidents where youths had deliberately started fires to lure crew into their communities and then pelt them with missiles and abuse.
The Service said that in the 12 months to March 2017, the number of attacks on firefighters had risen dramatically by more than 200 per cent and that the Emergency Services (obstruction) Act 2006 made clear provisions for people to be prosecuted for their behaviour.
Andy, who was elected the first Mayor of Greater Manchester on Friday, has powers over both Police and Fire as part of his new role said he was both saddened and appalled by the incidents.
He said: “The people who work in our fire service are among the most dedicated I have ever met and to have a responsibility for them and support them is something I take very seriously. They give a lot to our communities and they deserve a lot back. I have a zero tolerance approach to attacks on firefighters, police officers or ambulance staff.”
The first incident happened just before 8.15pm on Tuesday when firefighters were called to a fire in Crawford Avenue, Tyldesley, but arrived to find a group of up to eight youths had set fire to rubbish and began throwing objects at them and the fire engine.
On Saturday night, just after 9.30pm in Lune Road, Platt Bridge, a fire was again deliberately started and crew arrived to find a group of youths who began throwing objects at them. At this incident the group threatened firefighters and threatened to burn down neighbouring properties.
In both incidents, Greater Manchester Police were called and attended to support crew whilst they extinguished both fires but no arrests were made.
Andy added: “My heart sinks when I hear that Greater Manchester firefighters are being treated in this way. It is truly appalling. There is no excuse for it. I think most young people would also be appalled. They would say these young people don’t represent them in any way, shape or form. The idea of attacking people who are there to protect the public, to save lives, is beyond belief. These young people don’t fit in with Greater Manchester and have to change their ways.
“We have to send young people a message that we are going to help them get on in life. I understand some of them might feel the world is against them. I said young people will be at the heart of everything I do and I will deliver more support to get around and access opportunities to get on in life. But it’s not unconditional. It’s a deal. We will help you but you have to adhere to the standards we have here too.”
Baroness Beverley Hughes, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, added: “This is senseless and dangerous not only in terms of the incident and danger to firefighters, but also to other people who might need that fire engine when it has been called out deliberately so that crew can be attacked.
“We operate zero tolerance to incidents against any public servant, but I want to know why young people are doing it? We need to connect them more closely to our services to develop the relationship and create opportunities. I want to work to bring young people into society.”