A FORMER Lochgelly firefighter has helped to improve working conditions for firefighters in Mexico.

Fresh from his organisation's 73rd worldwide mission, David Kay OBE, chairman of the International Fire and Rescue Association (IFRA), told the Times that volunteers across the country would now be legally insured thanks to their efforts.

The 55-year-old, alongside Jake Anderson, 72, and Kenneth Redpath, 36, also from Lochgelly, also spent weeks training firefighters in San Cristobel, in the Chiapas region near the Guatemalan border, all of whom give their time for free, in safer practices.

"They are volunteers so they don't know a lot about procedures," David explained.

"Most of them will have jobs outside of it, and if they get injured fighting a fire, their work won't pay.

"They have limited equipment so we were improvising a lot, health and safety is just non-existent, they were putting themselves at risk trying to do things."

He says that while Scotland, to cover current a population of 5.47 million, there are 364 fire stations, there are just 20 in the Mexican state, which is home to 5.22 million people.

"If it saves one life, that's enough," the 55-year-old added.

"They do the same job as us, when you are on holiday in places like Mexico you expect the same service.

"But firefighters are under-equipped across the world, the one time you need help, you want these people to be professional and equipped.

"There wasn't a minute I thought I didn't want to be there helping - well, maybe when I was in an aircraft in the middle of a thunderstorm on the way there."

The IFRA have sent 107 vehicles to 23 countries around the world, with around 200 members involved across the UK.

It is the largest charity of its kind in Scotland, and the second in Britain.