Fife man’s firefighting mission to Paraguay

A team from International Fire and Rescue Association are on a mission in Paraguay.  Fraser Watson, from Kirkcaldy, is second from the left.
A team from International Fire and Rescue Association are on a mission in Paraguay. Fraser Watson, from Kirkcaldy, is second from the left.

Fife man Fraser Watson is among a team currently on a mission to train emergency services in Paraguay.

The 48-year-old from Kirkcaldy has been a volunteer with the International Fire and Rescue Association (IFRA) for around eight years now and this is his fifth overseas training mission.

The charity was founded in 2001 to specifically target the fire and rescue needs of communities on an international level. It does so by supplying vehicles, equipment and training through a dedicated group of trained volunteers who give up their spare time to travel around the globe to help others.

Fraser, a passenger service agent at Edinburgh Airport, is one of three IFRA volunteers in Paraguay. He’s joined by mission commander, and founder of IFRA, David Kay, who works for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, and instructor Dave Wishart, a retired firefighter.

The trip is part of a ten-year plan to assist the Paraguayan fire service, helping with training in general firefighting subjects including search and rescue techniques with and without breathing apparatus, first aid and trauma skills, road traffic collision procedures and HAZMAT.

In the last three years, the volunteers have held two training schools at the fire service’s base in Thornton, with firefighters from Argentina, Mexico and Paraguay attending to receive training equivalent to that of a retained firefighter.

Speaking ahead of the mission, Fraser said: “This will be my first time in Paraguay after having had the pleasure of completing four missions in Bosnia.

“I had always fancied Mexico or Argentina, if the opportunity came up to go there, but got to know a few of the Paraguayan guys when they were over last year and in 2017 at the training schools we held for them and the other South American firefighters.

“My Spanish isn’t the best but I have to say Google Translate is my best friend as I use it a lot at work when I need to converse with passengers whose English is limited.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge and working with my colleagues on delivering the training they have asked for.

“Davie Kay, our chairman, keeps telling us, IFRA is not a holiday it’s an adventure, and it’s one I’m looking forward to and hopefully going to enjoy and come back with some fond memories and new friends.”