firefighter who was attacked by a group of youths while attending a blaze has been awarded compensation following help from his union.

Peter Woodhead, 41, from Cleveland was awarded the money by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Association (CICA) after his elbow was broken when he was attacked by the youths.

Mr Woodhead was on one of two fire appliances attending a house fire on Carlendon Road, Norton Grange, Stockton in May 2008.

The three firefighters were attacked by a group of 15 youths, some said to be wielding fence posts.

Mr Woodhead was hit twice by one of the youths, breaking his elbow.

Criminal Injury Compensation Claim

Following the incident Mr Woodhead contacted his union, the Fire Brigade’s Union which instructed its lawyers Thompsons Solicitors to enter a claim for compensation.

CICA is a government organisation which pays money to those who have been physically or mentally injured because they were the victims of a violent crime.

Mr Woodhead said: “We arrived at the address to help put out a fire but instead we were met by youths giving us verbal abuse and trying to steal our equipment. When one of the fire fighters chased after a youth who had stolen a box of smoke alarms, a defibrillator and first aid equipment he was surrounded by about 15 youths, some with fence posts.

“I was the last person to arrive to help at the scene and I was hit twice by one of the youths.

“I’ve never seen anything like it in my 15 years as a firefighter. It is disheartening to know that people in the very community you are trying to help are willing to steal our equipment and attack us.

“Now when we attend that estate we are very cautious and if it looks like there is going to be trouble we call for police assistance.”

He added: “I am grateful to the FBU and Thompsons Solicitors in helping me to claim compensation. It goes a little way towards making up for the wages I lost while suffering from a broken arm. I felt it was important for the public to learn about some of the challenges fire fighters face in the course of their work.”

Union Legal Services

Duncan Milligan from the FBU added: “Attacks on fire crews continue to be a significant hazard in the fire service. “The consequences can be grave for the fire crews and emergency fire control staff involved. Physical injury is an obvious danger but the threat of attack or persistent verbal abuse can demoralise, cause anxiety and increase stress.”

Ellen Nicholson from Thompsons Solicitors added: “Firefighters regularly risk injury, their health and even their lives in the course of their duty. Through the FBU members have access to free legal services and representation in seeking compensation for injuries caused at work.

“It is only right that Mr Woodhead received compensation for his injuries, caused by trying to protect the community.”

Two 20-year-old men, pleaded guilty to stealing a box of smoke alarms and two 14-year-old girls admitted affray at Teesside Crown Court in connection with the incident.