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Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service

Mines safety summit called following Skewen coal mine burst

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First Minister Mark Drakeford convened a mines safety summit today to address the safety and the environmental impacts of Wales’ disused coal mines, after a mine shaft burst in Skewen and caused catastrophic flooding  last month.

The summit brought together Secretary of State Simon Hart, Welsh Government and UK Government representatives, Neath Port Talbot Leader Rob Jones, as well as Rhondda Cynon Taf Leader Andrew Morgan, fire and rescue and emergency services, the Coal Authority and Natural Resources Wales.

The First Minister called for Skewen residents to be at the heart of all immediate work, while suggesting a ten-year finance plan to make mine safety a reality across the country, with a look to factor in climate change into any works needed.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “Coal from Wales’ hillsides fuelled the industrial revolution, catapulting us into the modern world we know today. It is only right that our communities who gave so much, live safely and are not financially hit by the negative legacy of coal mining.

“I wanted to convene today’s summit to discuss the risks to public safety and to agree, amongst other things, liability, the recovery process, the importance of engaging the affected community and the wider connections with the wider coal tip safety agenda. While there are some complexities to iron-out, the meeting was positive and productive, and we all agreed on the importance of putting the residents of Skewen at the heart of our plans.

“I was heartened to hear the Coal Authority and UK Government agree the significance of this, as well as the expertise and collaborative spirit of the emergency services, local authorities and Natural Resources Wales.

“Skewen was a wake-up call to us all. Homes were flooded at a rapid speed, and the impact of this has shocked the community.

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“We know that climate change will increase rainfall, and therefore poses an added risk to events like these happening again. We need a ten-year plan to finance work to secure all mines across the country, with climate change needing to be factored into any work going forward.

“We will work with all parties to make the safety of coal, metal and other mines, as well as coal tips- priority, and find the right path forward on an issue that far predates devolution.”

Today marks one year on from the Tylorstown landslide in Rhondda Cynon Taff, which was brought on following heavy rainfall and floods in February 2020. Since then, three coal tips summits have been convened and mapping of coal tips across Wales carried out, inspections and maintenance works are on-going.


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Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service

Four Welsh fire appliances donated to Ukraine

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As a gesture of support to Ukrainian firefighters, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service has donated 4 appliances to the fire services in Ukraine.

On Tuesday, 19th April 2022, a fire appliance and an incident response unit left mid and west Wales to join up with a UK wide, fire and rescue, convoy that will soon be travelling across Europe to deliver a fleet of appliances in Poland.

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The UK wide convoy is being coordinated by the National Fire Chiefs Council and the Fire Aid Charity.

A further fire appliance and incident response unit will also be leaving Wales for Ukraine on 3rd May.

Watch Manager Chris Doyle, who will be among the team from Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service that will drive the appliances across the continent, said “Everyone is aware of the tragic events that are happening in Ukraine at the moment and this as small way that we can help our friend and counterparts in Ukraine.

“Our mission is to join up with a wider convoy, that has been organised by Fire Aid and the National Fire Chiefs Council, before setting off across the continent to deliver these appliances in Poland.”

The incident Response Unit and one of the fire appliances being donated by Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service (Image: Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service)

Group Manager Ashley Hopkins, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service said: “It is heart-wrenching to see and hear of the suffering that the people and communities of Ukraine are enduring. When we sought applications of interest for volunteers from our workforce, to deliver these 4 appliances to Poland, we were inundated by requests to volunteer.

“I hope that the delivery of these two fire appliances and two incident response units will aid the Ukrainian fire services during this terrible time.”

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Lead image: Gary Glew, Watch Manager Timothy Nettleton, Firefighter Mike Davies, Firefighter Rhys Fitzgerald and Watch Manager Chris Doyle (Image: Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service)

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Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service

New firefighting all terrain vehicle launched to help tackle rural fires and rescues

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Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service (MAWWFRS) has procured its first All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV), to assist in firefighting and operations in rural areas.

The Polaris Ranger is an all-wheel-drive vehicle fitted with an ultra-high-pressure pump and a 300-litre water tank.

The vehicle will be stationed at Brecon Fire Station in Powys.

The fire service say the primary use of the vehicle will be to support safe systems of work when fighting wildfires, but it can also be utilised at a wide range of incidents where access is required over rough or hilly terrain.

This is the first firefighting vehicle of its type in Mid and West Wales and the crew from Brecon have undertaken a range of training courses including off-road driving, winching and pump operation in preparation for its use.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Roger Thomas commented: “Providing this vehicle for crews will assist enhance our ability to manage incidents at traditionally inaccessible areas and will support a safe system of work at a range of incidents.

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“The location of the appliance has been chosen based on risk profiling and I am pleased to see this new appliance going to Brecon, in our Northern Division. Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service is committed to investing in appliances and equipment that further increases the safety of our firefighters at incidents.”

The new firefighting ATV will be taken to incidents on a trailer pulled by one of the fire service’s new Ford Ranger pickup trucks (Image: MAWWFRS)

The ATV will be deployed to incidents on a trailer towed by one of the Fire Service’s new Ford Ranger vehicles, one of six that have been brought into service within MAWWFRS Northern Division which encompasses the counties of Powys and Ceredigion.

The new appliance will also be utilised by the MAWWFRS Community Safety Teams to assist in delivering safety messages within rural communities.

Northern Division Commander, Group Manager Craig Thomas added: “We are very pleased to receive this new ATV into Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service and our crews have trained hard to gain the new skills required to realise its full potential. The new Ford Rangers will also improve our ability to tackle wildfires and other incidents within rural areas.”

(Lead image: MAWWFRS)

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Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service

New Deputy Chief Fire Officer for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service confirmed

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Iwan Cray, current Assistant Chief Fire Officer, has been confirmed as the new Deputy Chief Fire Officer of Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service.

Following the announced retirement of Chief Fire Officer Chris Davies, who will leave the Service in April 2022, and the subsequent appointment of Deputy Chief Fire Officer Roger Thomas to the role of Chief Fire Officer; Assistant Chief Fire Officer Iwan Cray was appointed by the Authority’s Appointments Committee on Monday 31 January 2022.

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Councillor Elwyn Williams, Chair of Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Authority said: “It is with great pleasure that I can confirm that Assistant Chief Fire Officer Iwan Cray has successfully been appointed as our new Deputy Chief Fire Officer.

“Iwan has a great track record in executive leadership here at Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service and we are incredibly fortunate to be able to appoint an individual of his calibre to the role of Deputy Chief Fire Officer.

“Chief Fire Officer Chris Davies leaves our Service on April 2022 following an illustrious career and I speak on behalf of the Fire and Rescue Authority when I say that we have full confidence that both Iwan Cray and Roger Thomas will form a strong and forward-thinking team, who will drive this organisation forward.”

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Iwan Cray said: “I want to extend my gratitude to Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Authority in affording me the opportunity to become the new Deputy Chief Fire Officer for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service.

“Whilst I have no doubt that it will be an incredibly challenging position, I am excited to work with our newly appointed Chief Fire Officer Roger Thomas and develop and enhance an organisation that continues to deliver an exceptional service to our communities.”

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(Lead image: Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service)

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