FIRE crews in Devon and Somerset have been attacked or verbally abused more than 100 times in just over a decade. 

Figures from the Home Office show crews from the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service have been at the centre of 133 incidents since 2010-11, with 13 attacks recorded by the fire service in the year to March.

Three Devon and Somerset firefighters have been physically injured in attacks since records began just over 10 years ago. 

During that time, crews were subject to seven incidents of physical abuse, had objects thrown at them on 20 occasions, had verbal abuse directed at them 86 times, experienced six episodes of harassment, and dealt with at least 14 other aggressive incidents.

Pete Bond, Director of Service Delivery at the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, said: "Attacks on firefighters or any emergency services workers are abhorrent.

"Our staff willingly put themselves at risk to save others, but deliberate assaults are not acceptable.

"We will always refer incidents of this nature to the police for a potential criminal investigation."

At least 8,600 attacks have been recorded by fire brigades across England since 2010-11 – and more than 500 firefighters have been injured as a result.

Despite firefighters attending fewer incidents and fires during the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, attacks increased nationally, with 934 recorded across England in 2020-21 compared to 899 the year before.

The true figures could be higher, as those reported only reflect assaults experienced during operational incidents.

The figures do not take into consideration abuse that has taken place at or around fire stations or as crews are carrying out fire prevention work, for example.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said: "Any attack on firefighters – who are providing a humanitarian service – is something to be deplored.

"It is paramount that fire and rescue services provide appropriate support to firefighters who are subject to such attacks, including taking into account any mental health effects of these incidents, and being understanding when it comes to sick leave."

Verbal abuse is the most common type of attack recorded nationally, accounting for 57% of incidents recorded by fire services since 2010-11.

Around a quarter of incidents involved objects being thrown at firefighters, while 5% were physical attacks.

A spokesman for the National Police Chiefs' Council said it is never acceptable for anyone to be assaulted or harmed for doing their job.

He said: "Last year, the maximum jail term for attacking emergency workers was doubled.

"This sent a clear message that society will not tolerate abuse of our emergency workers.

"We will use the full force of the law to prosecute anyone who uses violence against those who are on the front line."