LEIGH fire engines are now fitted with spy cameras to identify the idiot yobs who attack them during emergency call-outs.
The state-of-the-art equipment, which enables firefighters to view and record activity on all four sides of their fire engine when they attend blazes, will also be used to record incidents of general anti-social behaviour and to identify arsonists and thieves who try to steal equipment from fire engines.
The cameras produce razor-sharp images and have powerful zoom facilities which mean offenders can be clearly identified even when they are hundreds of yards away.
Relevant video footage will be passed on to police and Wigan Council's anti-social behaviour unit to be used as evidence to prosecute offenders in court.
Between April and November last year, 18 incidents involving hostility
towards firemen were recorded across the borough.
The new cameras, funded at a cost of £18,000 by Wigan Council, are already fitted on to four engines, including two at Leigh fire station, but soon all of the borough's six fire engines will carry four cameras covering views from the front, rear and sides.
On-going running costs are expected to be minimal and will be met by the fire service.
Borough fire commander John Harding said: "We acknowledge that it is a very small minority of people who attack fire fighters and we have an extremely good working relationship with the majority of youths in the Wigan borough.
"This move is just one element of the fight against fire related antisocial behaviour. We are currently also using covert surveillance cameras to target specific areas where their have been spates of arson attacks involving wheelie bins in a bid to catch the perpetrators."