IF there is one thing that the recent devastating fires over Rivington have underlined it is that firefighters regularly do one of the toughest jobs in the world.

Their typical working day for days on end was physically gruelling, demanding and unpredictable as weather temperatures soared and winds gusted. Their concerns were for human life and wild-life, along with preserving our beautiful West Pennine Moors whenever they could.

They worked alongside colleagues from neighbouring brigades and those much further afield with the kind of professional co-ordination we have come to expect from our fire service. They didn’t moan about the difficult conditions but simply got on with the job.

Yet, these are the same firefighters who also regularly turn up at some domestic fires to have stones and bottles thrown at them. They aren’t the only ones either; other areas of the emergency services are handed out similarly ungrateful behaviour.

Only last week, an ambulance crew was pelted with bricks, glasses, tables and chairs when they responded to a call claiming a 13-year-old girl was in cardiac arrest. Amazingly, officers subsequently arrested two girls aged 13 and 14.

Police personnel face similar problems in carrying out their daily work. They are regularly abused, threatened and, in some cases, on the receiving end of violent behaviour. Yet, they turn up for work every day as normal, knowing that they could be sent into what is often a domestic warzone and that the public may treat them with no respect.

And that is really what this is all about. What has happened to the respect that society endemically had for our emergency services’ personnel? It seems a long time ago that everyone not only welcomed their help but also offered them assistance and gave them real respect.

Yes, there are still plenty of people who do but there is still a significant number of those who don’t and who feel they are legitimate “targets” for every kind of negative behaviour.

I was brought up in an age when you respected all authority. You expected to help them to uphold law and order and, if you needed emergency services like fire and ambulance, you were suitably grateful. And, that word again, respectful.

In our emergency services, we have a whole battalion of people prepared to go way beyond normal duties to help others. We definitely need to get back to respecting that.