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Pensioner drove fire engine to Albania to donate vehicle

Jake Anderson, 70, donated the vehicle on behalf of the International Fire and Rescue Association.

By STV News

Published 05 Sep 2019.

A pensioner helped drive a fire engine more than 1300 miles through ten countries to help local rescue crews in Albania.

Jake Anderson, 70, volunteered with Dumfries and Galloway Fire & Rescue Service for 33 years before retiring in 2008.

The qualified mechanic now volunteers with the International Fire and Rescue Association (IFRA), based in Thornton, Fife, which donates fire rescue equipment and refurbished fire engines to countries in need.

This summer the charity donated an old Volvo FL6 14, previously based with Diageo in Fife for 27 years, to a crew in Vau i Dejes, in Albania.

Grandfather-of-three Mr Anderson took turns driving with a paramedic, another retired firefighter from Fife and a firefighter from Edinburgh Airport.

The group of four drove through the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland and Italy.

After reaching Bari in Italy they took a ferry to Durres in Albania, before driving two hours north to Vau i Dejes.

The 1368-mile trip to Vayu i Dejes, near the historic city of Shkoder, took four days, but the group stayed in Albania for two weeks before flying back to Scotland via Turkey.

They helped train Albanian firefighters and showed them how to use the fire engines and equipment.

Mr Anderson said: "They had a wee bit of training before but everything we showed them was new to them.

"They were actually quite good. A lot of it is discipline.

"We did a mock demonstration of a road traffic accident.

"We also showed them how to run hoses, use cutting equipment, pump water and use breathing apparatus."

The IFRA, established in 2001, has provided equipment, fire engines and vital training to Balkan countries like Bosnia and Kosovo, and as far afield as Argentina, Cuba, Mexico, Panama and Paraguay.

The charity relies on donations from the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service (SFRS) and companies donating equipment and old vehicles.

Mr Anderson used his skills to help fix up the fire engine and, as well as the vehicle, full firefighting suits and equipment, including tunics, trousers, boots and gloves, were also donated.

Safety glasses, respiratory masks, ear plugs and life jackets for working close to water were also handed over to crews in Vau i Dejes.

Mr Anderson said: "We donate everything for free.

"They write to us and say what they're looking for and we'll try and help them.

"They're very grateful for our help."

The dad-of-two was widowed in 2010 shortly after retiring, but found that volunteering gave him a new lease of life.

Mr Anderson, from Dumfries, told how he thought it was a joke when he first got a call from the charity inviting him to go to Paraguay.

He said: "When I was retiring, IFRA got in touch with me because down in Dumfries we had an old turntable ladder that no one knew how to operate.

"They asked me if I could help out with training in Paraguay.

"I put the phone down because I thought they were winding me up. But there it is, it's now working in the capital in Paraguay.

"I've been across to Argentina and Paraguay ten times. It's better than a holiday, you're always doing something.

"You get to see the world and help people. It certainly opens your eyes up."

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