The Voluntary fire brigade in Germany, is hardly young – the volunteers, 95 percent of all firefighters from make people. Without them, the forest could be fires in the future is increasingly out of control.
Tobias Schaarschmidt is since Childhood in the volunteer fire Department. At the age of twelve, he joined the youth fire brigade, at 16, he was then to the adults, since 2013, he is the military leader. But people like Schaarschmidt be rare in Germany. This is because, with the aging of society, the volunteer fire shrink to fight back. Of 22,000, there are still in Germany, but the German fire services Association (DFV) have been observed for years that the Numbers are on the decline. In 2000, 1.1 million people were almost volunteering with the fire Department, 16 years later, this number was only 995.000.
Fire Department-chief Tobias Schaarschmidt invested a lot of free time in the volunteer fire Department in Sankt Katharinen
These Figures would be mere side notes, if the Volunteer fire Department would be only a Hobby of committed citizens, the time with your neighbors and stay in shape want to spend. But the volunteers are essential in large cities as well as in smaller municipalities. “A professional fire brigade that comes from actually without Volunteers. Day-to-day business, she gets somehow covered. But if you have larger Damage, as in the case of heavy rain, you are not going to get there”, says Schaarschmidt. His Volunteer fire brigade is in the village of Sankt Katharinen active, around 35 kilometres South-East of Bonn.
Only in Austria there is a similar network of volunteer fire brigades in Germany. “This is a treasure we have in Germany, the people take it very easy as a matter of course,” says Carsten-Michael Pix, speaker at the communication. “In Germany you have, in any small town a Volunteer fire Department. The alone cannot do much, but the sum of many small fire, both social brigades-socially as well as for the actual firefighter tasks, is a very great treasure.” In fact, stresses the Pix, Germany experienced so far, not a forest fire that was completely out of control. This is also the merit of the volunteer fire brigade: Even in the most rural areas of Germany there were firefighters in the vicinity.
If something happens, the Freiwillige Feuerwehr mostly not far
The times are changing
However, it is increasingly difficult to find suitable talent. Veteran firefighters reach retirement age and your service. Some fire departments even have to close. This is the fate of the Voluntary fire brigade overtook Stolzenfels in Koblenz, Germany, active since 1925, closed for new year’s eve 2018.
“The Volunteer fire Department is ultimately just a mirror of society. The German society shrinks and has to fight with the same problems as we have,” says Pix. “Another Problem is that the interests have changed in the last 50 years; in the meantime, you are very individual. This club culture – and the fire Department is, ultimately, a club that has the inlet. The people no longer want to bind a long to a club, to a task.”
Also in larger cities, the volunteers and the fire lack is increasingly clear
The volunteers are missing, especially in less densely populated areas where Jobs are scarce and young people move away. But the Problem also exists in the big cities. There, the people were to accept that all of the firefighters main worked for a living, says Frank Hachemer, Vice President of communication and President of the land Association of Rhineland-Palatinate. Cities with more than 90,000 inhabitants are obliged to have a professional fire Department, however, all also have a Volunteer fire Department. With them, the 31,000-paid firefighters work together on a regular basis. The training, equipment and expertise are comparable. There are Standards that all must comply with pay or not.
The heroes of the community
This evening, the auditor of the County in the fire Department, the 39-year-old Fire chief schaar Schmidt to visit. He checked the fire-fighters – including a woman. A headless doll, the volunteers demonstrate a rescue and need to delete imaginary chemical fires, without having to commit dangerous errors. Schaar Schmidt’s unit consists of 34 volunteers, with a minimum of 28, maximum of 40 persons may be. It is to defend one of the nine fire in the municipality, which covers 65 square kilometres of land around the Rhine.
“During the day, you can find here in the guard, actually, no,” says Schaarschmidt. Unlike a professional fire brigade, the guard of the volunteer fire Department is vacant. The firefighters get in case of an emergency from the control center a message on your beeper, except for those who live outside the range of the transmitter – receive an SMS. Then the volunteer firefighters drop everything and rush to use. In the last year, schaar Schmidt’s squad has become in 65 cases, active, on average, there are 60 applications per year.
Professional and Volunteer firefighters must meet the same Standards
To get involved in the volunteer fire Department, is a considerable commitment – without pay. The fire Department in St. Catherine’s meets twice a week in the evening to train. Physical Fitness is a Must. Alone the breathing apparatus of firefighters, which protect against noise, can be up to 15 kilograms. Regularly, the Fitness of the volunteer is tested.
New members will learn four week basis. In the meantime, but the work of the voluntary fire brigade so far, the majority of the participants in the course of time further courses, to dealing with a ventilation device or to learn a protective suit or to make a walkie-training.
An unusual idea
The members of the volunteer fire Department in Sankt Katharinen often come from firemen’s families – their parents and grandparents were in the fire service active. Many have, as Schaarschmidt, found in your youth the way into the station. However, there are, according to Schaarschmidt, under the new members and some Newcomers. In a few other places, it comes so quickly in a new community, as in the case of the volunteer fire Department.
Frank hachmeyer from the communications building. He hopes to arm with the new arrivals, the Volunteer fire Department for the future. And he has a different Plan: Hach Meyer wants to let the volunteer fire departments of the UNESCO world heritage site explain. He says the German fire service Association of parents of the seriously consider.