NEW figures show attacks on firefighters are increasing - and it could be putting lives at risk, South Wales Fire and Rescue (SWRS) said.

Fire crews train to help people during fires, floods and traffic accidents but now they are also having to contend with members of the public.

There were 12 attacks on firefighters in South Wales the year to March 2013.

But between March and December last year there had already been 14 attacks in the area, six of them in Gwent and Caerphilly.

Attacks range from spitting, hurling bricks and bottles at crews, punching and kicking and verbal abuse, a spokeswoman for the service said.

Some elsewhere in the UK have even been shot at or stabbed while responding to an emergency.

One attack took place on October 18 last year, after a crew responded to an alarm going off at the Severn Bridge Social Club in Chepstow.

When they arrived, the “heavily intoxicated” occupier would not let them in and was “verbally abusive”, a South Wales Fire and Rescue spokeswoman said.

Staff requested police back-up and the police had to “forcibly remove” the man to let the fire service get inside.

He was then charged with obstructing emergency workers and pleaded guilty at Caerphilly Magistrates Court on February 27, where he was fined £370 and ordered to pay an extra £85 in costs and £37 victim surcharge.

There were also two attacks in Abergavenny, one in Abertillery, one in Abersychan and one in Caerphilly between March and December last year.

Chief Fire Officer Huw Jakeway said: “It is absolutely beyond belief that our firefighters are being attacked so viciously while responding to emergency incidents and trying to save lives. Attacking our fire crews has very serious consequences and it cannot and will not be part of anyone’s job to face abuse, threats or attacks."

The service has now launched the campaign “We can’t protect while we are under attack” to make people aware of the “devastating consequences these attacks can have”.

The fire service urged anyone witnessing an attack on a fire crew to report it by calling the police or the SWRS fire crime unit by phoning 01443 232000 and asking to be transferred.