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EDITIONS
Saturday, 23 November, 2002, 16:24 GMT
Firefighter burned in picket accident
Firefighters are manning picket lines across NI
Some firefighters left picket lines on first day of strike
A striking firefighter has suffered serious burns in an accident at a picket line in County Down.

He was lighting a brazier outside Banbridge fire station when he was burned on his face, hand and leg.

The firefighter was taken to hospital in Newry before being transferred to a specialist burns unit in Belfast. His injuries are not life threatening.

Jim Barbour of the Fire Brigades' Union said the incident highlighted the fact that everyone, including firefighters, had to be careful.

"It can happen to the best of us," he said.

NI FBU representative Jim Barbour
Jim Barbour appealed for people to be careful
"Everyone needs to be as vigilant as possible."

Earlier on Saturday, military personnel were called to deal with a serious fire at a factory near Belfast on the second day of the firefighters strike.

The blaze at a plastics factory in Mallusk was report at about 1100 GMT on Saturday. There was no one in the building at the time.

Three Yellow Goddesses and one breathing apparatus team were at the scene.

Fatal accident

Striking firefighters left their picket lines to attend a number of serious incidents.

They rushed to the scene of a road accident in County Antrim on Friday night after reports that a woman was seriously injured.

The victim, in her 30s, died in hospital after her car hit a parked vehicle on High Street in Cushendall.

The striking firefighters were on the scene within minutes to help free the victim from her car.

Firefighter Malachy Jamison said his colleagues did not need to think twice about whether to attend.

"On humanitarian grounds, we have to turn out.

"That's what we're taught. We are trained that way and we automatically just went to the scene - that's what we do and that's what we're good at," he said.


The fire service have built up a degree of neutrality with the people of Northern Ireland

Roland Landley
Army colonel
More than 500 military personnel officially took over from the province's firefighters who joined the second national strike over pay at 0900 GMT on Friday.

Meanwhile, recriminations are continuing over the breakdown of talks aimed at settling the dispute as the eight-day walk-out enters its second day.

The trade union movement has joined forces to condemn the government, led by the general secretary of the TUC, John Monks, calling on all its members to support the firefighters' action.

At the same time, the minister with responsibility for the fire service admitted the government needed to "engage more" in negotiations.

On Friday, the Army said it would not cross the picket lines to take red fire engines.

Commanding officer of Northern Ireland's fire and rescue group Colonel Roland Landley said the security forces would do everything in their power to provide effective cover.

But he said his staff would not risk compromising the neutrality of the fire service.

"Over the years of the Troubles, the fire service have built up a degree of neutrality with the people of Northern Ireland on both sides. We would not want to prejudice that," he said.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland has said a request to support the security force personnel in firefighting will put additional stress on the service.

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Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott:
"It would be like signing a bouncing cheque"
 VOTE RESULTS
Fire strike: Is it time for a deal?

Yes
 76.76% 

No
 23.24% 

8188 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion


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22 Nov 02 | N Ireland
22 Nov 02 | N Ireland
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