FIRE officials have condemned an “abhorrent” attack on firefighters in Bradford as they tried to tackle a blaze in a residential street.

A crew from Odsal fire station was pelted with metal bars by youths in Bishopdale Holme, Buttershaw.

The group of four thugs threw two “thin metal bars” at the crew as well as unleashing a torrent of verbal abuse towards them on Wednesday night.

The bars struck the front of the vehicle, but no firefighters were injured.

Spencer Priestley, Odsal crew commander, said: “We don’t want to be attacked when we are just out trying to do our duty. It’s very disconcerting, but the crew just got on with the job.”

Councillor Angela Tait (Royds, Labour) who is a member of West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority, condemned the attack which took place in her ward.

She said: “It is absolutely terrible and abhorrent when our firefighters get attacked by anyone.

“There seems to be a high number of attacks in Bradford, such as people throwing stones at crews, and the service does a lot of outreach work with the community to try to stop this.”

Cllr Tait said she has “no idea” why people attack firefighters while they are carrying out their work.

“I guess they find it entertaining,” she continued, “I’ve no idea why they do it, it is just wrong and not acceptable at all.

“Firefighters should be seen as heroes by young people in the community, not targets for attacks.”

Cllr Tait suggested the youths might have started the fire themselves to attract the fire service for the attack.

“To stop these attacks, it’s about education and building relationships with the community.

“Firefighters already do a lot, going to events and into schools to try to build relationships and to try to appeal to the youths that might be carrying out these attacks.”

Cllr Tait added that fire engines are now fitted with cameras which could also be used to collect evidence on attacks, because “we need to prosecute them”.

In the 12 months prior to March 2017, there were 88 attacks on firefighters across West Yorkshire, a 46 per cent rise from 60 attacks the year before.

Of those 88, about half of the attacks took place in the Bradford district, and more than 60 per cent of the attacks involved missiles being thrown at firefighters.

There was also a spike in attacks around Bonfire Night.

In the attacks on Bradford firefighters, they ranged from being pelted with missiles to verbal abuse, being blocked from reaching a fire, and even youths climbing into a fire engine while the crew tackled a blaze.

West Yorkshire Deputy Chief Fire Officer Dave Walton said: “Firefighters put their own lives at risk every single day to protect the public.

“To be attacked by the very people they are there to help is simply incomprehensible.

“We want you to consider this – how would you feel if your brother, sister, mother, father, best friend, were trapped in a fire or serious road traffic collision (RTC) and it took firefighters longer to reach them because the nearest crew had been forced to come off duty because they had been attacked?

“Firefighters are there to protect everyone; please don’t attack them when they are there to help.”

Dave Williams, chairman of the Yorkshire branch of the Fire Brigades' Union, said attacks on firefighters were too common in Bradford.

“We are not engaging with this communities and there is a severe breakdown in the relationship between firefighters and the community and that is worrying," he said.

“We do have attacks in other areas in the authority, but they are not as frequent or aggressive as in Bradford.

“I wish it was as simple as being more visible and getting the message out there by going into schools to inform people at a vulnerable age of the work we do.

“We’ve been doing all of that for the past ten years and the message just doesn’t seem to be getting out.

“I really do not know how we can stop these attacks from happening.”