The fire service intervened 83 times during New Year – Monday evening through to Tuesday morning, between the hours of 8 p.m. and 7 a.m., in Brussels. Walter Derieuw, the spokesman for the Brussels fire service indicated the incidents on Tuesday morning. He stated that 66 callouts had involved fires on public highways.
In comparison, firemen would reckon upon an average of around 20 such callouts for a normal weekend night. Fires on the public highway targeted bins, litter but also cars.
According to Eric Labourdette, a representative of the labour union the SLFP, on the Rue des Etangs Noirs in Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, youngsters in groups with firecrackers set fire to bins, but also a Christmas Tree. As their safety was not guaranteed by police, operative firemen took the decision not to cease operations here.
When going back up the Chaussée de Gand, several projectiles were thrown towards the fire-fighting truck. The second fire-fighting truck sent on site was attacked with stones by these “revellers”, added Walter Derieuw. Both the rear-view mirrors and front windscreen were shattered. None of the firemen were injured, but they were themselves looked after by the SIAMU (Emergency Medical and Fire Service). The management of the service laments the incident and is requesting that the perpetrators be identified, so as to be prosecuted. In the area, a pharmacy was looted, bus shelters vandalized and urban street lighting destroyed.
Moreover, firemen confirmed some 248 ambulance callouts, compared to 100 on a normal night. Amongst these, 95 related to those who became ill and were injured in public. Walter Derieuw stated that three fire teams fell victim to verbal and physical abuse, in particular to fireworks and stones being thrown. They had to leave the various areas to await their securing by the emergency services. Complaints regarding these incidents have now been made, so that the perpetrators can be duly prosecuted.