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Saturday, 23 November, 2002, 11:50 GMT
Firefighters leave picket lines for crash
Fire crews on picket line
Firefighters are manning picket lines at their stations
Firefighters left two seperate picket lines to rush to the scene of a fatal accident on the M4 motorway.

The crash happened at junction 40 of the eastbound carriageway of the M4 in Port Talbot shortly before 0820 GMT on Saturday.

Swansea pickets
Swansea firefighter pickets

Firefighters left their picket lines at Port Talbot and Morriston Fire Stations, when they heard of the seriousness of the incident.

A man and a woman died when a heavy goods vehicle crossed the central reservation of the elevated section of the M4 and collided with a car and two vans.

Two people were injured and taken to Morriston Hospital.

A man has been arrested on suspicion of offences under the Road Traffic Act and has been taken to a local police station for questioning.


Chief Fire Officer Douglas Mackay of the Mid and West Wales Fire Brigade said: "Striking firefighters have shown on a number of occasions during the current pay dispute that they are prepared to respond to serious incidents where lives are at risk.

"The action taken by the crews from Port Talbot and Morriston is what I would expect of professional firefighters when they were made aware of the nature of the incident.

"I welcome and applaud the actions of striking firefighters in responding to this serious and tragic incident."


A green goddess and a vehicle equipped with breathing apparatus attended from Neath, a green goddess went to the scene from Port Talbot and rescue equipment support teams from Bridgend and Carmarthen also headed to the accident site.

The M4 was closed in both directions between junctions 40 and 42 for several hours following the incident.

Firefighters on the picket line

Traffic was diverted through Port Talbot town centre causing congestion as fans headed to the Wales V New Zealand rugby international in Cardiff.

And at around 1740 GMT Saturday, three Green Goddesses, manned by 18 RAF fought a large blaze at Shank's Yard, Meadow Street, Swansea.

Before the Port Talbot accident, the military had experienced a quiet first 24 hours of the strike.

Minor incidents

Troops and retained fire crews were called to a handful of minor incidents across Wales.

There were fewer hoax calls for control rooms to deal with, with just three reported in Wales on the first day compared with 37 malicious calls during the last 48-hour stoppage.

Two people have been detained in west Wales by Dyfed Powys Police following a call in Newcastle Emlyn where a green goddess was sent to Capeliwan.

Recriminations are continuing over the breakdown of last-minute talks that could have averted a strike.

TUC General Secretary John Monks has called on all union members to support the firefighters' stoppage.

And Bill Morris, General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers' Union, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme a "mysterious hand" put an end to the prospect of agreement.


But Welsh Secretary Peter Hain has defended the Government's handling of the fire dispute.

The Neath MP told the BBC's World at One that the Government was given an "ultimatum" by the Fire Brigades Union during last-minute talks to avert a strike.

Peter Hain
Peter Hain has defended the government

Mr Hain said that local government negotiators should not have struck a deal with the union without consulting ministers.

He added: "I am absolutely flabbergasted at the behaviour of the employers who agreed to a deal they knew was not acceptable."

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20 Nov 02 | UK
20 Nov 02 | Middle East
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