CCTV can help us stop abuse'
PUBLISHED: 18:09 18 June 2008 | UPDATED: 09:53 23 August 2010
A STATE-OF-THE-ART fire engine fitted with CCTV cameras will help in the battle against anti-social behaviour against fire crews, according to the Fire Brigade. The new appliance, which costs around £192,000, is the first of its kind for Kent Fire and Re
A STATE-OF-THE-ART fire engine fitted with CCTV cameras will help in the battle against anti-social behaviour against fire crews, according to the Fire Brigade.
The new appliance, which costs around £192,000, is the first of its kind for Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) and went into operation yesterday in Medway.
As well as the CCTV cameras, the fire engine has pumps that provide compressed air foam and new ventilation fans that will improve fire-fighter safety.
Steve Dunn, station manager at Thames-side fire station in Coldharbour Road, Northfleet, welcomed the addition of the new fire engine, which may be implemented across the county if it proves successful.
He said: "If we are called to an area and we are attacked or abused, having CCTV cameras onboard catching them in action would help in finding the people that do this.
"We have had problems with abuse and anti-social behaviour against our crews in Dering Way. We have been called to the street 87 times in the past year, the highest number of fire calls for a single road in the whole of Kent."
In February, the Reporter revealed how fire-fighters have been abused and threatened by a gang of youths, including having bricks and stones thrown at them. One fire-fighter was injured in the rush to get back into his engine. Thames-side station is now working with the police and the council to try and resolve the problems in the area.
Over the past year, Kent Fire and Rescue has recorded 11 incidents of verbal and physical abuse on crews in the county.
Mr Dunn added: "As well as CCTV on fire engines, what we need is CCTV in the area to stop the people that dump rubbish there. These are the people we should target specifically because it is the rubbish that is set alight, that is the root of the problem.
"We don't want to be dealing with a rubbish fire on Dering Way when there is a serious RTC the other end of town. We have to have appliances from Dartford to help us out, and that just can't go on."
KFRS Assistant Director of Operations Steve Demetriou said: "We will not tolerate any abuse against our crews as they carry out often life-saving work.
"The new appliance in Medway is a pilot project which may be repeated throughout the county if it proves successful.
"The Kent and Medway communities are largely supportive of our role and I hope the cameras will be used more for training purposes and recording how we tackle fires, rather than collecting evidence of violent or abusive behaviour.