ATTACKS, training mishaps and rescue efforts contributed to more than 130 of the region’s firefighters being injured in the line of duty last year, The Northern Echo can reveal.

Fire crews should expect to go home at the end of their shift “in the same state they went out” but official figures show there were at least 135 firefighter casualties last year.

Earlier this week, a North-East fire crew was taken to hospital after their vehicle overturned on a Billingham roundabout as they responded to an emergency call.

The incident, which left three people injured, is expected to be recorded alongside statistics that show 37 of the region’s firefighters were hurt in 2017/18 as a result of other ‘operational incidents’.

The majority of injuries occurred during training exercises, according to analysis of Home Office data for North-East fire and rescue services.

Dr Jill Tolfrey, chief executive of the Firefighters Charity, said such incidents could have a huge impact on the lives of crews and their families and highlighted the potential impact of firefighting on mental and physical health.

She added: “Firefighters experience trauma on a daily basis, working in and around situations and incidents that the rest of us would flee from.

“This requires incredible physical and mental strength, for instance to manoeuvre and operate complex machinery in often hazardous conditions, and to psychologically process the sights and sounds of tragedy and horror.

“Injury, whether resulting from their work or outside of it, can therefore have a huge impact on firefighters’ lives, and that of their families as theirs is a physical role, requiring a predetermined level of fitness. The mental health impact of firefighting, meanwhile, for those on the front line and in support roles, can be just as significant, but can often go unseen and therefore undocumented."

The Northern Echo:

Figures for 2017/18 reflect 60 people hurt while training, 26 while on operational duties and 33 during routine activities.

At least five firefighters were injured after being attacked, with attacks on crews rising from 111 in 2010/11 to 153 last year.

Russ King of the Fire Brigades Union said injuries at work had a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of firefighters and the service, with a growing number of attacks nationwide a blow for their morale.

He added: “I’m surprised by the amount of people injured during training – any training should be subject to proper and robust risk assessments and if that’s not happening, the issue needs to be looked at.

“People should go to work and come home in the same state as they went out.

“It beggars belief that people are attacking those who go to work to protect the public - the fact that a small minority are attacking their protectors is having a lasting effect on the mental health and well-being of firefighters.”