Eggs, fireworks and dumptrucks, inside the battle for the streets

Firefighters had eggs and fireworks thrown at them but secured a massive reduction in trouble over the Bonfire Night period. Crews were targeted in a handful of incidents but a safety drive led to the lowest number of blazes linked to anti-social behaviour in the last five years. Tonnes of fire material was removed from the streets, abandoned homes were targeted for intervention and crew dummy runs were among the tactics designed to limit the chaos.

: Police swoop after ‘999 hoax calls’ claiming gunman loose in city centre hotel Fire officials spent weeks preparing for the bonfire period, which includes Halloween and Mischief Night, when trouble typically flares amid heightened anti-social behaviour. This year saw several attacks on crews, the most high-profile in Fazakerley and Stockbridge Village on October 30.

On that night firefighters were attacked by around 20 yobs while they were putting out wheelie bin fires at around 8.30pm. Five bins had been set alight on Longmoor Lane in an apparent setup, with crews then ambushed by the gang, which threw fireworks at them and members of the public.

Bonfire Night fireworks were aimed at the public and police vans in Everton Park

On Haswell Drive, another member of the fire service had eggs thrown at them. Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service (MFRS) said its staff were physically and verbally attacked five times that week.

Yet while those incidents caused anger and frustration, MFRS ultimately secured a reduction in trouble through a series of pre-emptive strikes designed to prevent and limit the number of opportunities for carnage. Its tactics were detailed in a report that went before the Merseyside Fire Authority on Thursday. The report revealed how five “tipper trucks” deployed between October 25 and November 4 removed 54 tonnes of material that could have been used on bonfires.

Eggs, fireworks and dumptrucks, inside the battle for the streetsA bonfire at the bottom of Percy Road, Wallasey on Bonfire Night

Data was analysed to identify anti-social behaviour hotspots that led to 10 fire engines driving through the most “vulnerable” areas twice a week for four weeks to provide visibility and “community reassurance”.

Twenty one empty buildings were designated as being at risk of being targeted for arson and were the subject of safety work while 951 ‘high visibility’ fire truck patrols were carried out. As a result, the report concluded: “During the 2021 bonfire period the number of deliberate secondary fire incidents attended by Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service was 218. “This is a decrease of 50 incidents from 2020.

“When compared historically to the 2017 period there has still been an overall reduction of 174 incidents. “Over the five-year period, 2021 saw the lowest total overall.” There were 65% fewer fires connected to anti-social behaviour in Sefton in 2021 compared to last year, with a decrease seen in each Merseyside borough with the exception of St Helens, where there was a 6% rise.

There were 16 ‘misuse of fireworks’ incidents this year – a reduction of one on 2020. One of the worst blazes of the night saw a home in Norris Green destroyed by fire when it was hit by a stray firework.

Eggs, fireworks and dumptrucks, inside the battle for the streetsHouse fire caused by a firework on Sage Drive, Norris Green, Liverpool.

The report revealed that the campaign to limit trouble through Bonfire Night and Halloween meant that MFRS was able to maintain its response to genuine emergencies – described as “life risk incidents” – throughout that period. It concluded: “The delivery of the bonfire plan aims to limit and reduce the threat of the number of anti-social behaviour incidents and deliberate fires across Merseyside.

“Its aim is to reduce the risk of attacks on firefighters through education and engagement. “It also promotes key safety messages to allow the public to have a safe Halloween and bonfire period free from harm and injury. “MFRS maintained its attendance standard to life risk incidents throughout the bonfire period.”

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