policing

Police “misused” fire service to end N Yorks fracking protest – Fire Brigades Union

171002 KM tower eviction 3

North Yorkshire Fire Service equipment at Kirby Misperton, 2 October 2017. Photo: Steve Spy

The Fire Brigades Union has accused North Yorkshire Police of making a “nuisance call” when it requested fire service help at an anti-fracking protest at Kirby Misperton.

A fire engine with hydraulic platform was requested on Monday (2 October 2017) to extract a protester from a small wooden tower on the verge outside the gate to Third Energy’s gas site at Kirby Misperton. A specialist police team used the equipment to bring the protester down. DrillOrDrop report

The Fire Brigade Union’s North Yorkshire branch secretary, Steve Howley, told DrillOrDrop today:

“I think the police should not have used us in that manner. I think it was a misuse of fire service resources. It was a false alarm.

“We are often talking about nuisance calls. This was a nuisance call on the behalf of the police. We should not have been there.”

The hydraulic platform, based a Scarborough, is one of only three operated by the fire service in North Yorkshire. It was at the Kirby Misperton protest for about two hours.

171002 KM tower eviction 4 Eddie Thornton

The wooden tower from which the protester was removed, Kirby Misperton, 2 October 2017. Photo: Eddie Thornton

Mr Howley said:

“There was nobody at risk and nobody in danger.

“It didn’t warrant that level of response. We are having life-saving equipment tied up. What would have happened if a high-rise block in Scarborough had caught fire?”

The FBU is a member of the organisation, Unions Against Fracking, which calls for a moratorium on the process.

Mr Howley told anti-fracking campaigners at Kirby Misperton they had the union’s full support. Third Energy has said it plans to frack the KM8 well at its site in the village before the end of the year.

In an email sent yesterday to campaigners, Mr Howley said:

“I voted in support of the anti-fracking resolution brought before FBU national conference and personally I believe Fracking has no place in our Country let alone North Yorkshire, I signed up to support frack free united earlier this year.

“In terms of the Fire service involvement I am disgusted and disappointed. Firefighters have been placed in such a position by the Police and secondly senior fire service managers by their decisions to force Firefighters to attend the site yesterday.

“We are clear this is not the role of the Fire Service, as we are there to render humanitarian services and save life and property, not provide law and order intervention.”

Mr Howley said he had raised the issue with the Assistant Chief Fire Officer.

“If help is requested from the police we will attend if there is a need for people to be rescued and if lives are at risk.”

171002 KM tower eviction 4 Steven Spy

Operation to remove a campaigner from a tower outside Third Energy’s fracking site, 2 October 2017. Photo from video by Steve Spy

He said the union was confident that the issue had been addressed. But he said the use of the fire service at North Yorkshire anti-fracking protests would be monitored.

Measures would be taken, he said, to prevent union members “being unwantedly exposed to such situations again in the future”.

Councillor “shocked and annoyed”

Di Keal, a local councillor said she was shocked and annoyed to see the use of fire service equipment to remove the protester.

“This was a complete over reaction by the police – the structure is not even very high – and our fire service should not be exploited in this way.

“Fire officers and the specialist equipment they use are there to save lives, not to facilitate police action against lawful protest.

“With the recent cuts in fire personnel and tenders made by the Tories at the county council, if there had been a major fire in Ryedale on Monday, lives could have been lost while fire officers were deployed to carry out this ‘removal’. It is deplorable that our fire officers were used in this way by the police, who know full well that this is outside their remit.”

Police statement

North Yorkshire Police said in response to the FBU’s criticism:

“A protestor was removed from unsafe scaffolding on a grass verge on Habton Road, Kirby Misperton, at about 5pm on 2 October. Following a risk assessment, for his own safety and that of other road users, North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service attended with an aerial ladder platform, and police officers with specialist training removed him.

“Officers negotiated throughout the day with three people on top of the unsafe scaffolding, which could have collapsed and put road users at risk. One did not come down, and significant emergency services resources had to be used for his own and other road users’ safety and welfare.

“He was arrested, and has been charged with obstructing a police officer. North Yorkshire County Council arranged to have the scaffolding removed.”

Fire service statement

A spokesperson for North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said:

“We were called on Monday (2nd October) afternoon to assist North Yorkshire Police at Habton Road, Kirby Misperton. Our Aerial Ladder Platform from Scarborough attended the scene to assist specially trained police officers to reach an individual who was at risk on unsafe scaffolding, which was in danger of collapse.

“We regularly assist partner agencies at incidents where there is a risk to life or public safety.

“North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service will only attend incidents at the Kirby Misperton site if there is a risk to life or public safety and not to assist with law enforcement elements. This has always been our position and it hasn’t changed since the incident on Monday.”

 

12 replies »

  1. Have North Yorkshire police lost the plot?
    If indeed as this report suggests, that North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service have been misused by the police, when lives could be in danger elsewhere? What is the cause of that?
    Are North Yorkshire police losing all respect and credibility through their increasingly bizarrely inconsistent and demonstrably paranoid responses to peaceful public protest?
    There must have been private contractor’s or council services that could have been called upon to deal with the situation? Would those resources not have been the first to call upon? Or would those operators have refused to co operate?
    A major contractor of a multinational corporation was right there on site.
    Surely they would have the physical and financial resources to deal with the deconstruction issue, coild they not have been called upon?
    What exactly are we seeing here?
    Are the police becoming so organisationally isolated from their original civil service remit to protect the public that their actions are losing sight of their original purpose and objectives in a simple public protest situation?
    Perhaps they should take a step back and re examine their role in acting as a privately procured enforcement agency for a private corporation paid for out of the tax payers pocket and perhaps consider returning to their original role as a civil police force and turning their attention away from the activities of the private corporations who are creating this insane situation in the first place?
    It appears it is not just the Fire Services’ which are being misused in this situation, it is the police services themselves who are being equally misused by private corporations?

  2. Fire Service UNIONS should keep out of the issue. If the Fire Service is called by other emergency services to assist, and that assistance is as needed and as determined prior between the services, then it is perfectly straight forward.

    The Fire and Rescue Service have made it clear their assistance was required.

    Next it will be a Union official deciding the Fire Service should not attend a house fire at a Tory Councillors house!

    Back in the USSR-or the 1970s.

    • That was not what the North Yorkshire Fire Service said martin, read this text carefully if that provides more clarity:
      Fire service statement

      “A spokesperson for North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said:”

      “We were called on Monday (2nd October) afternoon to assist North Yorkshire Police at Habton Road, Kirby Misperton. Our Aerial Ladder Platform from Scarborough attended the scene to assist specially trained police officers to reach an individual who was at risk on unsafe scaffolding, which was in danger of collapse.”

      “We regularly assist partner agencies at incidents where there is a risk to life or public safety.

      “North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service will only attend incidents at the Kirby Misperton site if there is a risk to life or public safety and not to assist with law enforcement elements. This has always been our position and it hasn’t changed since the incident on Monday.”

      “Not to assist with Law enforcement”

      Quite clear isn’t it?

    • I think you’ll find Martin, that the Fires Service Unions are firefighters therefore are the voice of the service. To ask they keep out of the issue is a contradiction.

  3. My personal experience with the fire service is mixed. There are plenty of brilliant people but there is also a huge culture of pencil pushers.
    As long as these antis are removed I don’t care about the stories afterwards just get it done.

  4. Thank goodness we have people who will stand up for the majority – who do NOT want fracking. No fracking in our county and no fracking in our country.

  5. Ve-not sure what your point is. I thought this was about whether the Fire and Rescue Service should be utilised to help when there is risk to life or public safety. That’s what they say they were called to do, that’s what they say they did. (I think that is why the “misused” is in quotes.)

    I wonder whether the costs of the specialist team required will be covered from the one person arrested for standing up? I suspect not.

  6. I would suggest Sherwulfe that when the Fire and Rescue Service do their job, as required, it does not help when a Union rep. disputes what their function is. Not going to do too much for public confidence.
    [Edited by moderator]

    • So, Martin you are suggesting that union representatives do not represent the members of a union?
      and, as a member of the fire services they do not know the job that a fire service operative does?
      and ‘Fire and Rescue Service personnel have a strange opinion regarding their job’.
      Strange that….

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