Firefighters did come under attack at Moygashel on the eleventh night

I am responding to the letter from '˜John Black, Moygashel' ('˜No problems at Moygashel bonfire,' July 18), which stated that an attack on firefighters '˜did not take place' at the Moygashel bonfire on the 11 July.

Monday, 23rd July 2018, 3:31 pm
Updated Monday, 23rd July 2018, 3:34 pm

Firefighters did come under attack whilst attending this bonfire.

On two occasions a bottle was thrown, hitting the fire appliance and hitting a firefighter on the back of the leg.

Thankfully, there was no injury to the firefighter or damage caused to the appliance.

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Firefighters were deployed to cool five properties which were close to a large bonfire.

The bonfire was approximately 29 metres high and was situated approximately 60m away from the nearest properties.

Our bonfire safety advice is that bonfires should be a minimum of five times the height from the nearest property; therefore a 29m bonfire should be at least 145m away from the nearest building.

As this bonfire was outside this ratio NIFRS intervention was required in order to protect the properties from the radiant heat of the fire.

One property suffered minor heat damage and if it was not for the intervention of firefighters further and more serious damage could have occurred.

NIFRS clear remit in relation to bonfires is the protection of people, property and the environment from the dangers of fire.

It is disappointing that the integrity of NIFRS has been questioned in relation to our operational response and the attack.

I know this attack was not reflective of the normally good relationship we have with the community in Moygashel and I do not want this, hopefully, isolated incident to overshadow that relationship.

Across Northern Ireland on the 11th July, our firefighters worked extremely hard, responding to 193 incidents including 69 bonfire incidents.

I thank them and our Regional Control Centre and Support staff for their continued contribution to public safety in Northern Ireland.

Alan Walmsley, Assistant chief fire & rescue officer, NI Fire & Rescue Service