Cape Town - Two firefighters were lucky to escape uninjured when a brick was hurled through the windscreen of a water tanker in Nyanga.
The attack, which took place at 21:30 on Monday night, was the fourth incident reported within the city for the day.
Firefighters had been on their way back to the Gugulethu fire station after extinguishing a shack fire on the outskirts of Nyanga when the brick crashed through the windscreen on Mahobe Street, fire services spokesperson Theo Layne said.
"They kept driving, with the tanker driver depending on the passenger to guide him back to the fire station," he explained.
This resulted in the vehicle temporarily being out of service.
"[This is] such unnecessary and wanton damage and destruction to a service whose only mission is to help those in need," chief fire officer Ian Schnetler said.
"[It] seems our community does not want or appreciate our help."
Following the incident, firefighters were anxious to respond to an incident in Philippi, requesting a SAPS or Metro Police escort in order to execute their duties.
This results in a delay of a different nature, Layne said.
"Crews wait at the fire station, which takes time. When something like this happens, firefighters can't just get into the engine and go – they can't respond blindly."
In three unrelated incidents on Monday, one fire vehicle was stoned on Govan Mbeki Road in Ottery as it made its way to a training session, rocks were hurled at a vehicle in Mitchells Plain as it returned from extinguishing a blaze in Philippi, and another was stoned in Belhar as fire fighters responded to a burning bus on the N2/R300.
Procedure dictates that the vehicle return to the fire station, Layne confirmed.
The attacks on fire services vehicles are becoming more frequent, resulting in staff having to attend trauma counselling to help them cope with the ordeal.
"Firefighters dedicate themselves to saving life, property and the environment on a daily basis and have to contend with the normal dangers which are inherent to the job," Layne said.
Western Cape police spokesperson Captain FC Van Wyk confirmed public violence cases are being investigated.