Firefighters had rocks and other debris thrown at them as they tried to tackle a blaze on an unauthorised traveller encampment.

About 70 vehicles have been on Waterhall playing fields in Mill Road, Brighton, for more than a week.

But crews from East Sussex Fire and Rescue are nowrefusing to attend any more incidents at the site without police presence after they had things thrown at them when dealing with an arson incident.

Jason Tams, manager of Brighton Rugby Club, which runs some of the pitches at the site, said: “Fire crews are paid to risk their lives and look after the general public. To be put in harm’s way like that is completely unnecessary.”

Crews from Preston Circus were called to the site on Tuesday at about 10pm after reports of a group of children setting some trees on fire.

When they arrived, a fire source told The Argus rocks and other debris were thrown at them as they tried to tackle the flames.

The source added a “wolflike”

dog was being goaded into attacking the 999 team while there were reports of people trying to take things off the engine.

Fire crews have now said they will not deal with any incidents at the site unless there are police present.

In addition, it is understood that two teams, rather than one, will attend any calls to the encampment.

It is the latest report of antisocial behaviour at the site.

In recent days locals have reported dog walkers being intimidated and motorbikes being driven across sports pitches.

Mr Tams said he had lost out on thousands of pounds of business since the groups had moved on as sports teams had cancelled bookings.

He added: “We have spent so much time and money sorting out pitches for the new season and it has nowbeen trashed by people riding vehicles across it.”

A police spokeswoman said: “Police have spoken to East Sussex Fire and Rescue and have agreed that they will liaise with the council security on the site and will assess any future calls to the encampment and decide if police presence is required.

"A police presence will be on site until 10pm and officers will be speaking to adults to make them aware of the incident and to take appropriate steps to supervise their children.”

A council spokesman said a possession hearing for this land will take place.