Brussels fire brigade teams up with influencers to tackle aggression

The Brussels fire brigade will soon be using influencers to combat aggression towards the emergency services. With this second awareness-raising campaign, the fire brigade hopes to reach young people who are not reached by traditional media, BRUZZ reported on Tuesday.

During the night of New Year's Eve, firefighters and paramedics carried out a total of 663 interventions - almost double the number of interventions during a normal working day. During a call to a fire in Brussels' Liedekerkestraat, firefighters were simultaneously bombarded by fireworks. "The police had to protect us while our firefighters extinguished the fire," says Walter Derieuw, spokesman for the fire brigade.

After a previous awareness campaign in November, the fire brigade is aware that there is still work to be done. "We want to follow up the campaign that has just ended by using influencers to make children and young people from the most vulnerable neighbourhoods aware of the role of the fire and ambulance service in society."

Tougher penalties

"We put our own lives on the line to help the community. It is absurd that at the same time we have to watch our surroundings for our own safety," said Derieuw. "A blue flashing light has the effect of a red rag on a bull for many people, but this is not an exclusively Belgian or Brussels phenomenon".

"We put our own lives on the line to help the community. It is absurd that at the same time we have to watch our surroundings for our own safety"

Federal minister of the Interior Annelies Verlinden, for her part, promised to work on tougher penalties for violence against rescue and ambulance workers. Verlinden has also already drawn up an information campaign to prevent aggression.

New Year's Eve is traditionally a turbulent night for the emergency services, who are often targeted by projectiles and fireworks while responding to emergencies. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, violence against emergency workers in Brussels has increased.



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Over 140 arrests in Brussels and 60 in Antwerp amid New Year's Eve incidents
More than 140 people were arrested on New Year's Eve in Brussels and around 60 in Antwerp, according to the cities' local police forces. A ban on fireworks was in force, but was largely ignored.

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