SEVERAL pieces of equipment deemed vital to the operations of the fire service have been stolen from a fire station in Northern Ireland.
The items, which are used in response to road traffic collisions, were taken following a break-in at Newtownstewart Fire Station in Co. Tyrone on Sunday, March 19.
The Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) confirmed the burglary yesterday, after discovering the missing items when the station was opened yesterday morning (March 20).
David Nichol, NIFRS Western Area Commander, said: “I can confirm that several pieces of equipment, which are critical to our operational response to road traffic collisions, have been stolen from Newtownstewart Fire Station, Co. Tyrone following a break-in.
“Other items including an angle grinder, a drill and an electric saw have also been stolen and substantial damage was caused to the back door of the Fire Station from forced entry to the building.”
He explained: “The break-in was discovered on Monday, March 20 around 7.30am. It is believed the items were stolen between 10.15pm and 10.45pm on Sunday, March 19.
“Known as hydraulic cutters or ‘the jaws of life’, these vital pieces of operational equipment are used by Newtownstewart Firefighters to help rescue casualties from serious road traffic collisions – when seconds count in saving lives.
“I am appealing for all of these items to be returned to the Fire Station immediately. “
He added: “Newtownstewart Fire Station has had reduced operational capability today with Firefighters unable to respond to road traffic collisions in the area for a period of time until this equipment was replaced.
“It’s very disappointing that NIFRS and local Firefighters who work tirelessly for their community, would be targeted in such a way that leaves the community without lifesaving equipment.
I recognise the impact this has had on Newtownstewart Firefighters and I would like to thank them for their dedication to their community and their support at this time.”
PSNI officers attended the scene and have appealed for information from the public to help locate the stolen items.
"We believe that two men dressed in dark clothes entered through the back door of the premises, before making off in a silver or grey Volkswagen Passat with a number of items,” the PSNI states.
“Enquiries are continuing and officers investigating this report are keen to hear from witnesses or anyone who may have captured CCTV or dashcam footage in the area.
They added: “We would appeal to anyone with any information to contact police on 101, quoting reference number 232 20/03/23.
"Alternatively, you can submit a report online using the non-emergency reporting form via www.psni.police.uk/makeareport/ .
"You can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org/."