NOT so very long ago the worst form of delinquency faced by emergency staff as they went about their work was hoax calls made by time-wasting morons.
Unfortunately, these days they have much more to contend with, up to and including physical assaults on them as they put their lives at risk in an effort to save others.
Today the News reveals that the number of violent attacks on fire crews rose by a quarter last year compared to the previous 12 months.
Almost once every week a firefighter is physically assaulted, and we suspect that doesn’t include more minor or verbal attacks which crews shrug off as a regular part of the job.
But attacks last year included bricks and beer cans being thrown at personnel, threats with pool cues and cigarettes being stubbed out on uniforms.
Presumably because they started the blaze themselves or want it to continue to maintain the “fun”, idiots now even try to cut up high-pressure water hoses to prevent the flames being doused.
Will a firefighter have to be maimed before the violence stops? Or an innocent victim die in a blaze because crews were prevented from doing their duty?
The death of Ewan Williamson two years ago was a reminder of the risks firefighters face on our behalf.
The News has been campaigning since then for a posthumous honour which would in part be a token of the respect his surviving colleagues deserve from all of us.
But they deserve more than that – not least the protection they need to stop their own lives and safety being put at risk.
It has reached the point where ideally police would accompany fire crews on all calls, but clearly this would stretch resources too far.
So the least the authorities can do is use helmet cameras to identify and prosecute the thugs who get in the way of our 999 heroes – and make sure that the punishments fit the crime when they are found guilty.
Lessons in life
at this time of year thoughts typically turn to exercise as we try to deal with the excesses of the festive period.
But too often the bursts of activity in January rarely extend much longer, even though experts say it is much healthier to take a lifelong approach, with regular exercise.
That’s why we can only welcome the innovate approach at Leith Academy which appears to be paying dividends in getting more girls into PE.
If they learn the lesson in their teens it should stay with them for – a longer and healthier – life.