Portlaoise firetruck attacked

Portlaoise fire crew were attacked by youths hurling stones and bricks last weekend.

Portlaoise fire crew were attacked by youths hurling stones and bricks last weekend.

The incident has also put lives at risk around the county because the damage caused has put the vehicle out of action.

A fire had been reported by the Gardaí near the Hepburn Court estate on the Ballyfin road in Portlaoise at 11.20pm on Sunday night, March 3.

When Laois Fire Service arrived the truck was attacked. While driving by the Mountain View estate on the Ballyfin road, several youths began who hurling rocks and bricks at them. The passenger side of the truck got the most damage, and one rock hit home, smashing a hole in the windscreen, to the shock of the crew of six.

“The rock went right through the outer windscreen, which is laminated. It will go off the run now while repairs are carried out, which are very expensive,” a spokesperson for the fire service said.

The driver managed to continue on to the scene of the fire, where the crew quenched a small fire in a skip at the back of Hepburn Court.

While the fire had been reported at 11.20pm by Gardaí, the police were froced to leave the scene to respond to another call before the firecrew arrived.

“We had been told the Gardaí were waiting, but they were called away,” said the fire service spokesperson.

The fire truck is now off the road while the windscreen is replaced, leaving Portlaoise with just one appliance over the coming days.

The spokesperson underlined the seriousness of the attack.

“Firstly we are concerned for the danger to firefighters, and secondly, this truck is out of service and we don’t have a spare fire appliance to replace it. The whole community is affected by the activities of a few,” he said.

The crew were said to be shaken but uninjured after the attack, which was reported to Portlaoise Gardaí and is now under investigation.

The Ballyfin road has hit headlines several times recently as the scene of anti-social behaviour.

Last month Cllr Willie Aird warned that “someone is going to be seriously hurt”, due to young people throwing stones at passing vehicles and said there had been at least four complaints to the gardaí of broken windows.