Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service is investing £90,000 in body-worn video cameras for its operational firefighters, community safety officers, and fire safety teams in an effort to improve safety, and service delivery, and deter attacks.
The move comes in response to a growing number of assaults on firefighters across the UK.
From 1st May 2023, these cameras will capture both audio and video recordings, allowing the Service to learn from challenging incidents, celebrate and share good practices, and record evidence for investigations following fires and other duties.
According to the National Fire Chiefs Council, there were 983 incidents of firefighters being assaulted in the UK in the 12 months leading up to April 2022, a 5% increase from the previous year.
Of these incidents, 60 resulted in injuries, with some requiring a hospital stay. Most incidents involved verbal abuse (55%), followed by objects being thrown at firefighters and appliances (28%), physical abuse (6%), harassment (2%), and other acts of aggression (9%).
In light of these statistics, the National Fire Chiefs Council is calling for stronger sentences for those who assault firefighters, emphasising that these attacks are abhorrent and that firefighters deserve to be treated with respect.
Group Manager David Diggins from Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service commented,
“The benefits body worn video camera footage will bring to the Service can really transform how we do things.”
“Allowing our crews to continually improve through debriefing and learning will increase the effectiveness of service delivery to our communities.
“We also believe our communities will support these measures as an effective means to protect our firefighters when they are trying to protect them, their homes, and their businesses.”
The use of body-worn video cameras by Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service will align with Home Office Principles. It will be overt, meaning camera wearers will declare when the recording is taking place. All footage obtained will be managed appropriately and comply with general data protection regulations.
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Unbelievable that our firemen have to endure assaults aggression and attacks I feel so angry they are subject to this appalling and evil violence. Our firemen risk their lives to save the lives of these aggressors. I’m so glad they have body cameras now. Let’s hope these vile scumbags are caught and given hefty prison sentences.
Verbal abuse can be safely ignored. Unlike medics or even police officers, firefighters are very well armed with a variety of heavy and/or sharp implements along with some immensely powerful water cannon. They should be free to use them in conjunction with the body cams which should be used solely as evidence justifying a robust response.
The thugs would very quickly cease assaulting fire personnel. Said personnel also have the right to self defence using appropriate force. Bowling a hooligan along the street with a powerful hose strikes me as appropriate force.