Pensioner charged with attacking firefighters

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By Rory Reynolds

A PENSIONER has been charged with attacking a fire crew with a snooker cue as they fought to put out a fire at his home.

The 70-year-old allegedly screamed abuse at firefighters and lashed out at them – while they were trying to save him.

The fire crew had to pin the man back with a door, while they waited for police officers to arrive on the scene at Kippielaw Park in Dalkeith, Midlothian.

The blaze was eventually extinguished and the man was arrested and charged under the Emergency Workers Act 2005 and with a breach of the peace.

A spokesman for Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue service said: “This latest incident was particularly aggressive and we were forced to call the police.“It is very dispiriting for firefighters when they are abused by people they are trying to help.

Dangerous

“The team had to hold the individual back with a door and wait for assistance.

“It meant they could not put out the fire in his kitchen until police had detained him, meaning it was a dangerous situation for both the pensioner and our crew.

“You often find alcohol is involved in these incidents.”

The incident is the latest attack on emergency workers, with figures showing that charges for assaulting police, firefighters and ambulance crews have tripled in the last four years.

In 2009 Lothians fire crews experienced 43 incidents of both physical and verbal abuse.

David Blair, group manager in operations, said: “It is always extremely disappointing when firefighters are prevented from responding to an emergency call for assistance.

Unacceptable

“Undue delay can in some cases result in a very real risk to life.

“Verbal or physical abuse to crews is totally unacceptable and in these cases we will call the police to ensure that action is taken against offenders.

“In the past, appliances have also been damaged and this can affect our service if those vehicles need to come off the run for repair.

The fire service is continuing their school programme to educate children on the important work of the emergency services, visiting primary and secondary schools in the Lothians area.

A spokesman for Lothian and Borders Police said: “Physical and verbal abuse against emergency service workers will not be tolerated and we will robustly deal with anyone found to be responsible.”

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