Nottinghamshire blue light services are standing together to condemn assaults on frontline emergency workers after a firefighter was attacked while trying to stop a garden fire spreading to homes.
Firefighters attended the blaze at the back of an address on Northfield Way, Retford, where a settee was burning close to a house.
They engaged with the occupant, Mark Armstrong, explained they needed to put the fire out and tried to get the 37-year-old to see sense but he acted in an aggressive and confrontational manner towards them and wouldn’t cooperate.
He continued to be abusive towards them while they were putting the fire out.
A small wooden gate was thrown at them, hitting a firefighter’s hands as he raised them to protect himself. The crew members backed off and radioed through a request for police to join them at the scene.
Armstrong then approached the firefighter before punching him to the head.
The victim, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “The punch hit my protective helmet which prevented me from being hurt but I felt it was hard enough to have caused me a lot of pain had I not been wearing it.
“He finally backed off and went back into his house. I then heard a bang on the side of the truck which I later discovered was small rock having hit the nearside of the fire truck which caused a dent.
“We stayed outside the address as I still wanted to fully extinguish the fire and ensure nothing had spread to the house.”
Police arrived quickly and dealt with Armstrong after hearing what had happened.
The firefighter added: “After about 10 minutes or so the rest of the crew were allowed to access to rear garden of the premise to extinguish the fire and make it safe.
“The assault on me was totally unprovoked. Luckily my helmet prevented any serious injury to my head but the gate hitting my hands caused me to feel slight discomfort after the incident and into the following day.”
Armstrong, of Northfield Way, Retford, was voluntarily interviewed in connection with the 3 December 2021 incident and was subsequently charged.
He was found guilty of assault by beating of an emergency worker and was handed a 12-week prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, when he appeared at Mansfield Magistrates’ Court on 23 August 2022.
He was also made subject of a rehabilitation activity requirement, ordered to pay £100 compensation and ordered to complete 120 hours’ unpaid work.
Police Constable Carl Forman, who led the case, said: “I’d like to thank the victim for their commitment to the investigation and for taking a stand against assaults on emergency service workers.
“I hope this case and outcome goes some way to show that assaults on anyone, including emergency workers, are taken seriously by Nottinghamshire Police and will be dealt with robustly.
“It’s unacceptable for the very people who dedicate their lives to protecting the public from harm to come under physical and verbal attack.
“For communities to be protected, we must stand together to protect our frontline. Assaults on police, fire and ambulance workers, and indeed other public sector workers doing their job, will simply not be tolerated.”
Group manager at Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, Jonathan Holford, said: “Attacks on our crews, and other emergency service workers, are completely unacceptable.
“Our staff work hard to protect the communities of Nottinghamshire, so when they’re attacked whilst trying to keep the public safe, it is extremely disappointing.
“I would like to thank our police colleagues for their continued support and for the successful resolution of this case. This will hopefully demonstrate that we do not tolerate any violence towards our employees, whether it be physical or verbal and that instances are dealt with swiftly and robustly using the full weight of the law”.