Teamwork and a good interaction are demanded at the volunteer fire department. In an emergency firefighters have to entrust their life to one another. For this reason, building trust is one of the most important things in the company and the relationships between the members are often reflecting in leisure activities. However, being part of the volunteer fire company isn’t just for fun, but it is an indication for a high degree of engagement, because the Volunteer Fire Companies build the basis of the German emergency system. Volunteer Fire Companies often give first aid at the places of action. Many cities or communes don’t have their own fire service, and even if there is one it is often dependent on the volunteers’ support. That is why there are ten Volunteer Fire Companies in Kiel, among one professional fire service.
Talking to the head of the volunteer fire service in Kiel, Mr. Hassenstein, made clear the special commitment of the volunteers. Mr. Hassenstein has a wife and children. He doesn’t get on the couch after work, but rather slips into the uniform of a firefighter. He is responsible for all volunteer fire companies in Kiel and he plans and organizes finances, deployments, education events, he looks after the supply of extinguishing water, negotiates with local politicians and much more.
I had the chance to visit Gaarden’s volunteers during a meeting and could ascertain that they are also very dedicated. They act very serious in every department whether it is an emergency drill, an advanced training or a technical education.
In case of emergency the voluntary firefighters use a lot of technical equipment like thermographic cameras, cutting tools, defibrillators, hydraulic rescue devices, respirators, chainsaws and much more. Therefore, they are optimally equipped for extinguishing, protecting and rescuing.
Gaarden’s fire company is a group of varied people. The volunteers are craftsmen, bus drivers, waiters or students. This diversity is great because the tasks are also plenty. Radiomen, engine drivers, smoke divers and other specialists are needed during a mission, but also off an emergency call the devices need to be serviced and maintained, tanks have to be fueled and seminars have to be prepared. All these tasks must be done hand in hand.
Teenagers from 10 to 18 years are not allowed to take part in missions. For them there is the youth fire brigade where teenagers are prepared for the adult fire brigade.
The training teaches them about basic fire brigade tasks as well as exercises in skill, mobility and common knowledge. There are also joint ventures such as camping, going to the movies or sports like soccer. Also, social engagement gains in importance in the volunteer fire company. Teenagers can earn the “Jugendflamme” (youth flame) by realizing social projects like organizing sponsorships for playgrounds, practicing a stage play or other things that benefit the community. All these things improve the teenagers’ sense of responsibility and team spirit.
Everyone who has the German citizenship or one of another EU member state can take part in the volunteer fire brigade. Especially people with migration background are very welcome for representing the population. Mr. Hassensetein and his colleagues rejoice over every new face in the team.