Firefighters today called for more protection after a new report revealed a shocking catalogue of attacks against crews who face the daily threat of being ambushed, shot at, stabbed and abused.
The Fire Brigades Union claimed the number of incidents was increasing even though official figures show a fall in attacks against crews.
The union estimated there are 40 attacks on firemen and women every week and said the number of incidents recorded by fire authorities in England and Wales are four times those in the official Government statistics.
Attacks increased by 15 per cent last year but official Government figures showed a dramatic fall of 68 per cent, said the union.
In some parts of the country, attacks are so frequent that they are no longer reported, according to the FBU.
Firefighters have been pelted with bricks, bottles and stones as they tried to tackle fires and have been lured into ambushes by hoax calls, according to today's report, Easy Targets?
Research by the FBU showed that last October alone there were a series of attacks against crews across England, including:
* a hoaxer luring firefighters to a "car fire" in Cheshire before attacking them with bricks;
* a petrol bomb thrown at a fire appliance in Merseyside as firemen tackled a rubbish blaze;
* a gas cylinder exploded after being planted inside a wheelie bin and set ablaze in Cleveland.
In Lothian and Borders, incidents have included attacks with hammers, bricks, knives, lumps of concrete and coins while one crew reported that a breeze block was thrown off a bridge on to a fire engine.