FIRE chiefs are playing 'a dangerous game' with the lives of firefighters and the public, according to a union source.

Executive council member for the Fire Brigades' Union, Mike Smith, said that the proposed changes at Haverfordwest Fire Station will have serious implications for the county's fire crews and the people they serve.

He said: "Despite what the chief fire officer and chairman say, they are cutting the number of firefighters and they are cutting the establishment."

Haverfordwest fire station is currently manned by 32 firefighters on a 24-hour rota which means that crews are able to respond immediately to emergencies, unless they are dealing with another incident.

Eight crew members have already gone and if the latest proposals are realised a further 18 will be lost, leaving 14 to man the station by day with night cover being provided from the firefighters' homes.

Mr Smith said the proposals meant Haverford-west station was effectively being downgraded. He conceded that new equipment had been provided but he added: "Who is going to handle that equipment. There is no benefit to the community if equipment is provided but firefighters who handle that equipment are not available.

"We would expect our members to be well-equipped with the latest protective clothing and equipment and not to see it introduced as some kind of 'sticking plaster' over the gaping wound of downgraded fire cover for the people of Pembrokeshire."

Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue chief, Doug Mackay, said: "There is a long-term downward trend in both deaths and injuries caused by fires.

"The changes will not mean there will be any less firefighters to attend incidents at any one time.

"The new crewing arrangements will allow us to use the people and resources at our disposal in the most effective way."