A FIREFIGHTER was injured and his crew forced to withdraw last week after being attacked with bricks and bottles in the Divis area. 

The Fire Service was called to reports of a fire at the derelict flats on Ross Street at 7.44pm on Sunday 14 November. The flats, which are due to make way for social homes, have been set alight over 30 times since May.

Sunday's incident saw bricks and bottles thrown at fire crews. It is at least the fifth time the Fire Service has been attacked while responding to fires at the flats. 

A Fire Service spokesperson said: “Unfortunately when our crews arrived at the incident they were attacked by youths throwing debris and as a result one of our Firefighters sustained a wrist injury. Firefighters withdrew from the incident at 8.01pm.

“These attacks are senseless, and we are calling on the community to support us by stopping these attacks. Every time someone attacks our Firefighters, they are making their own community less safe.

“We know that the people who do this are a small minority and we appreciate the overwhelming support we receive from the community. We will continue working closely with community groups, statutory agencies and elected representatives to try and prevent attacks like this from happening again.”

The Lower Falls Community Safety Forum said: "This is someone's son, father, brother out doing a days work and was attacked while doing so.

"This vicious assault on a member of the emergency services is disgusting and those responsible should hang their heads in shame. This community deserves better and those that have left this man with injuries are not welcome and are not wanted.

"We send our best wishes to the firefighter and hope he makes a full recovery.

"We as a community are sick of being let down. We are tired of having to put up with this on a nightly basis. The people in this area deserve better.

"The Housing Executive need to take action and have this site demolished immediately. Listen to what we have been telling you for months before a life is lost."

A Housing Executive spokesperson said: “We once again condemn the ongoing anti-social behaviour at this site, which is fully secured and attended by our staff on a daily basis.

“This complex has been passed for demolition and a contractor has been appointed to complete this work. This will commence soon.

“In the meantime, we once again appeal to local people to stay away from the site.”

It is understood that demolition contractors are set to move onto the site on November 22.