Elected representatives say that the theft of a lifesaving fire engine used in emergency responsesfrom Larne Fire station “put lives at risk.”
Sinn Féin MLA Oliver McMullan commented: “We are very lucky no-one was killed or seriously injured after the fire engine crashed into parked cars and buildings.
“Not only was the danger in the appliance being driven by inexperienced drivers but it also removed this appliance from being on call.
“If we had have had an emergency call out the Fire Service would have been one appliance short and this could have made the difference between life and death.
“I hope the appliance is not too badly damaged and is returned to service as soon as possible.
“I will also be asking the fire chiefs how civilians were able to gain access to this appliance and see what security measures can be implemented so this cannot occur again.”
UUP MLA Roy Beggs also expressed relief that no serious injuries resulted from the crash.
“Thankfully no-one was seriously injured,” he said.
“It could have been much worse, as I understand that the tracker in the fire engine showed that it had been as far as Ballyboley, before the crash happened back in the town.
“The fire station itself is now structurally damaged and there are wider concerns for public safety with the loss of a fire engine and doubts about whether the station is safe for use.
“There is no doubt that lives were put at risk and clearly there must be a review as to how the engine was able to be stolen in the middle of the night.
“The theft of life-saving equipment left everyone in Larne more vulnerable had there been a fire or another major incident this morning.”
DUP MLA Gordon Lyons commented: “Breaking into a fire station and stealing a fire engine shows a clear disregard for the people of Larne and those who serve in the fire service.
“But to drive it around the town and create mayhem along the way demonstrates just how low some people are prepared to stoop.
“I am thankful that no one was hurt or killed, however this was an extremely stupid and dangerous thing to do.
“As a result, the scene on the Glenarm Road looked like something out of an action film and the people responsible have caused thousands of pounds worth of damage.
“They need to understand the consequences and seriousness of their actions and I hope that the police ensure that happens.”