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EDITIONS
Friday, 15 November, 2002, 05:19 GMT
Deaths during fire strike
Mr Smith's house in Burnley
Alan Smith, 83, was trapped upstairs in his home
Seven lives have been lost in fires and another in a traffic accident since the start of the first national fire strike in 25 years.
The worst incident so far during the walk out has been the death of four people at a farm house fire near Devizes, Wiltshire, in the early hours of Friday.

It is understood the dead are a mother and three children aged eight, 11 and 15.

The fire was attended by a retained crew - non-striking part-timers - from the local area who would have been covering the area even if no industrial action had been taking place.

A police spokesman said: "This tragedy has nothing to do with the dispute."


The first fatal incident was in Newtown, Wales, one hour after the start of the walkout.

The RAF Green Goddess team was sent to the woman's home at 1904 GMT on Wednesday and arrived within nine minutes.

Firefighters left their picket lines to assist and helped the army crew to rescue 76-year-old Violet Davies from her smoke-filled bedroom and out of the house.

Violet Davies
Violet Davies was the first fatality
She was treated by paramedics at the scene, but later died in hospital.

According to the Fire Brigades Union, the RAF team were on the scene no slower than a fire engine on a non-strike day.

Dick Pearson, Wales Regional Officer of the Fire Brigades Union, said it appeared the woman's death would not have been avoided even if a regular fire crew had been the first on the scene.


In Ayrshire, a 53-year-old father-of-two was killed in a road accident, soon after 1900 GMT on Wednesday.

Robin Brooks died after his car was in collision with an articulated lorry near the A77 Galston turn-off near Waterside.


I do not think anyone could have done anymore to save his life

Sheena Brooks
Wife of crash victim
The accident was attended by a unit of Green Goddesses stationed at Kilmarnock, and retained firefighters from Newmilns.

His wife Sheena refused to blame the fire fighters.

In a statement, she said: "His death was a tragic accident and in no way do I believe that the fire strike contributed in any way to his death.

"I believe he was killed instantly and I do not think anyone could have done anymore to save his life.

"I would like to thank the services involved who attended the accident."


In Briercliffe, Lancashire, an army Green Goddess and a breathing apparatus rescue team vehicle were called to a house at 2220 GMT on Wednesday.

They arrived six minutes later and soldiers forced their way into the building and found the man in an upstairs room,

The sole occupant of the house, 83-year-old Alan Smith, was pulled out and given first aid before the ambulance arrived.

He died en route to Burnley General Hospital, suffering from the effects of smoke.

The source of the fire was believed to be the kitchen cooker.


In the West Midlands, four Green Goddesses were called out to flat fire in Halesowen just after 0100 GMT on Thursday.

Evan John Davies, 86, was rescued from his third floor flat and taken to Russell's Hall Hospital in Dudley but later died.

The cause of the fire is believed to have been electrical.


The public face longer response times and that is something that is not acceptable

Phil Goalby
West Mids FBU
Although Mr Davies lived a little more than half a mile from the fire station, the army crews were forced to travel much further.

They took 20 minutes to reach the fire, having driven seven miles from Oldbury and five-and-a-half miles from Dudley.

Phil Goalby, West Midlands chairman of the FBU, said: "The pensioner died during the dispute and not as a result of the dispute."

But he added: "Halesowen is one area in the West Midlands where a station could be closed and that will mean the public face longer response times and that is something that is not acceptable."


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Do you back the firefighters' strike?

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 4.07% 

No
 95.93% 

64332 Votes Cast

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See also:

14 Nov 02 | Politics
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