Published Thursday, 23 January 2014
A spokeswoman for the NI Fire & Rescue Service said that a hostile crowd was in the area when two crews from Central Fire Station arrived and they came under attack, with missiles being thrown at them.
"Firefighters came under attack from youths throwing missiles and three pieces of equipment were stolen from one of the appliances," she said.
"Fortunately, the firefighters were not injured and the appliance was not damaged.
"However, the stolen items - a collector head, a suction wrench and t-bar - are important pieces of equipment and we are appealing for their return as soon as possible."
We realise that the people who carried out the attack and stole the equipment are not representative of the wider Lower Falls Community.
The spokeswoman added: "We are keen to stress that this is an isolated incident in this area, as normally the firefighters can respond to incidents in this area without the threat of coming under attack.
"Nonetheless, we are disappointed that firefighters, who were only out doing their job and protecting our community, should be attacked in such a manner."
A local Sinn Féin MLA said that, prior to the attack, a stolen car was being driven up and down the road on Wednesday night.
Fra McCann said that the car was then burnt out on Albert Street, where the items were stolen from the fire engine which arrived to deal with the blaze.
The PSNI issued a statement saying that a green Hyundai Accent car was believed to have been driven erratically in the area before being set on fire.
"It is believed that the vehicle was stolen from the Mountjoy Street area sometime after 6:20pm on Wednesday," the police statement added.
The Fire and Rescue Service are now working with local community representatives to retrieve the stolen items.
Mr McCann is also calling for the public and parents to identify those involved to police.
On New Year's Eve, an illegal street race took place on the Lower Falls Road which was widely condemned by local politicians and community workers.
At the time, Sinn Féin said that hundreds of young people gathered to watch cars being driven dangerously along the road, after it was organised via social networks.
The area has a special policing operation called Operation Echinus, which is aimed at targeting crime and anti-social behaviour.
In the past 12 months, over 400 people have been arrested or reported to the Public Prosecution Service as part of the operation.
© UTV News