The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has donated a landmark 100th fire appliance to a Fife-based charity that assists emergency services in countries affected by war or civil unrest.
The vehicle, which has formally been named ‘Centurion’, will help to equip firefighters in the South American country of Paraguay to respond effectively to a range of different emergencies to help protect communities.
After being handed over to the International Fire and Rescue Association (IFRA), which has been based in Dunfermline for almost the past two decades, the appliance will now journey around 6,000 miles to Paraguay which has encountered political unrest and economic challenge since it emerged from a 35-year dictatorship in 1989.
SFRS chief officer Martin Blunden and board chair Kirsty Darwent met with IFRA Chairman David Kay OBE and the Paraguayan Ambassador to the UK, Sr Genaro Vincente Pappalardo.
Chief Officer Blunden said: “Our service is absolutely committed to not only protecting communities here in Scotland but across the world and it is a privilege to be here today to formally mark this occasion.
“This appliance will assist volunteer firefighters in Paraguay to respond to protect communities when they are in greatest need and we will continue to support countries wherever possible through the provision of appliances and equipment.”
As well as donating appliances such as Centurion, SFRS also donates old kit, such as gloves and helmets.
Chief Officer Blunden added: “The SFRS is committed to reducing our impact on the environment and this also presents us with an innovative opportunity to ensure our resources are re-used wherever appropriate.”
To date, IFRA has helped 21 countries worldwide over the past 18 years.
The charity has completed over 70 training missions and sent 60 containers of equipment – with the 61st container due to be sent to Argentina next month.
The organisation, awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, has also set up four fire services in Argentina, Liberia, Namibia and Romania, by providing them with everything from vehicles, equipment and training.
IFRA chairman Mr Kay explained: “This appliance will make a massive difference to not only the volunteer firefighters but also the communities it will serve.
“SFRS have always been very supportive of us, in giving us vehicles, equipment and time. We are very proud of this partnership.
“Many countries are under-resourced and rely on volunteers.
“Firefighters could be running into burning buildings wearing flip-flops, overalls and bump caps. They need to fundraise to get equipment. These donations help to save many lives.
“All the equipment we send abroad can have a second or third life. Any kit, whether it is an appliance, boots, gloves or helmets is still in great condition as we look after our stuff.
“Even if it is out-of-date for the UK, it’s going to save lives elsewhere – while also saving any recycling costs.”
Centurion will start the journey to Paraguay from Tilbury Docks in Essex and then spend 30 days on a ship.
Thereafter it will spend some time in customs to arrive around 60 days later at its destination.
L-R Board Chair Kirsty Darwent, Firefighter Clara Kay, Lochgelly White Watch, Sr Genaro Vincente Pappalardo, CO Martin Blunden