Clothing donated by Ballyclare will be transported to Mexico, Argentina, Paraguay, Albania and Bosnia to support under-funded fire brigades.
Protective clothing manufacturers Ballyclare Limited gifted 180 pallets of specialist clothing worth £2.5m to the International Fire and Rescue Association (IFRA) this week — with the company pledging to hand over a further donation worth the same amount in the near future.
IFRA Charity founder and chairman David Kay, who is a serving firefighter at Lochgelly Fire Station (Fife, Scotland), travelled to England with three IFRA members to accept the donation and made immediate arrangements for it to be transported via four 40ft containers and one 20ft container to Mexico, Argentina, Paraguay, Albania and Bosnia, where fire services are extremely under-developed.
IFRA has been transporting unwanted emergency vehicles, equipment and clothing to poorer countries since it was set up in 2002.
IFRA also sends instructors to developing countries to train firefighters.
Mr Kay, who runs the charity from his home in Dunfermline, described the Ballyclare donation as “invaluable” and said it was sure to help save many lives. “We are talking about a £5m donation in total — an unprecedented amount which will make such an incredible difference to the countries we help support,” he said.
Ballyclare’s National Distribution Centre Manager Katie Watson and Commercial Director Dawn Scott with representatives from IFRA and the Mexican, Argentinian, Paraguayan and Albanian embassies. Photo courtesy of Dave Wardle.
“The pallets which are now on their way to these countries contain specialist clothing such as tunics, boots, helmets, gloves, trousers which will help kit out around 4,500 firefighters and help keep them safe while they carry out their duties.”
Mr Kay said the materials handed over were no longer of any use in Scotland or the UK because of stringent health and safety regulations but are still “perfectly usable” and would help keep firefighters safe in less fortunate countries.
“There is absolutely nothing wrong with them — they have simply reached their expiry dates so are considered redundant in the UK — but less fortunate countries use out-dated, unsafe and, ultimately useless materials so they will definitely make a massive difference to their fire services,” he said.
“Not only that but, because they are out of date, these materials need to be destroyed, which costs a lot, so we actually save companies money by taking them off their hands.
“On behalf of everyone involved with IFRA I would like to say a big thank you to Ballyclare for their generous donation.”