Fire stations of the world: Berufsfeuerwehr Regensburg, Bavaria in southern Germany
Berufsfeuerwehr Regensburg in Bavaria, southern Germany, was founded on 1 June 1927 (main fire station Haidplatz) and it was active in the air raid auxiliary service as fire protection police until 1945. It is one of seven Bavarian professional fire departments but the only professional fire brigade in the Upper Palatinate/Lower Bavaria area. Feuerwehr Regensburg has an average working week of 56 hours. The Feuerwehr Regensburg’s old fire station was built in 1964 and extended in 1981 and 2001. The station’s design didn’t meet the current requirements concerning space and the old part isn’t in the best condition either. For approximately 29 million Euro, the old part of the station was torn down and the new station built at the same spot. The latest part of the main building will be integrated into the new station. The new station has 57 engine bays to house current and future units. A second station at a different location might be realised in 10 to 15 years. In the large main building, there’s the primary vehicle hall, administration offices, common room, restrooms, kitchen, gym, lecture rooms, self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) training parkour, hose tower and integrated command centre, answering all emergency medical service (EMS) and fire-related calls and directing units not just from Regensburg City but also Regensburg County, Cham County and Neumarkt County and covering 630 000 inhabitants. The entrance hall shows some historic equipment, among it Germany’s oldest steam fire pump, an 1868 Fire Queen made by Merryweather & Sons in London. Feuerwehr Regensburg covers all of the city area first due. In case of larger scenarios or more alarms than the fire department can handle on its own, it receives support from some of the 11 volunteer fire department stations, each with two to three units that are scattered around the city area. Additionally, there are three industrial fire departments ie BMW, Continental and Infineon. Excluding the staff in the offices and the command centre, the station is permanently staffed with 21 fire fighters.
Behind the main building there’s a huge backyard, which is used as training ground and helicopter landing zone. Around the backyard, there are smaller halls with a hose-cleaning station, SCBA refill and repair station, apparatus repair station with two bays, storage facilities and a separate equipment pod hall. On one end of the station ground, there’s a parking lot for all crew members and on the other end there’s a sports ground.
Competencies apart from fire fighting and extrication include fire protection, technical rescue, water and ice rescue and high angle rescue.
Regensburg, a Bavarian city on the Danube River in southeast Germany, is a city of 80,76 km² with a population of 152 610 and is known for its well-preserved medieval core and its 13th-Century Regensburg Gothic Cathedral. The 12th-Century Stone Bridge, a 310m-long icon with 16 arches, crosses the river to the old town and a notable number of buildings of outstanding quality testify to its political, religious and economic significance from the 9th Century.
Apart from the inspection chief and the crew on the command van, each fire fighter is assigned to two, three or even four different units in the same shift. Those units are unlikely to be dispatched together to one call but in case one of the unit’s crew members is already gone with another unit, another fire fighter can simply jump into the empty position. Personnel are all trained on the engines, rescue trucks and aerials and rotate the primary positions every three weeks. Consequently, they don’t just have the theoretical training but actually really ‘know’ their apparatus. The training and staffing are laid out to have a very flexible department that can cover a whole city with relatively few fire fighters
Feuerwehr Regensburg responds annually to an average of 2 500 incidents and occasionally an incident record of more than 3 000 incidents is achieved. The fight around 300 fires annually, maintain around 90 fire engines and conduct 1 100 fire safety inspection every year.
Fire department response
There are fewer but larger fire stations in Germany. The state’s capital city of Munich, with 1.7 million inhabitants, has only 10 CFD stations and Regensburg only one. The legal response time limit is 10 minutes. Feuerwehr Regensburg covers 95 percent of the city area within a six-minute drive at an average speed of 40 miles per hour in city traffic. Where there are many small stations, apparatus are approaching separately from all different directions. In Regensburg, it’s only one station and a convoy of apparatus, which is quite common for Germany. One convoy means that traffic has to pull over only once instead of multiple times. But to make it even faster and safer, as soon as an alarm is set off, the command centre switches all traffic lights between the station and the scene, giving the apparatus a green wave. In contrast to the Opticom system, all lights are switched at once, giving the traffic the opportunity to flow off. Thus, the Feuerwehr Regensburg can literally fly across the city at an average speed of 40mph, with little traffic ahead and relatively little use of any siren.
In the case of a normal fire alarm (automatic or activated fire alarm and reported fires), the Feuerwehr Regensburg responds with five units ie the inspection chief car, command van, Rescue-Engine 1, Tower Ladder 1 and Rescue-Engine 2. If it’s a severe crash on the highway, the department responds with the inspection chief car, command van, Rescue-Engine 1, heavy rescue truck, tanker and Engine 4 pulling the traffic safety trailer. Additionally, a volunteer fire department would be dispatched.
However, there isn’t always a huge convoy responding. When the Feuerwehr Regensburg supports EMS on a medical call, for example to open a locked apartment door, only the technical rescue van responds and an accident with multiple cars in city traffic can easily be handled by the technical rescue van and a rescue-engine. In contrast to many other fire departments in Germany, the Feuerwehr Regensburg doesn’t operate any EMS units, no large-capacity ambulance bus and no truck cranes. EMS is covered by four EMS providers, and recovery jobs are performed by a very large private recovery company.
Those convoys of predetermined units range in size from a minimum of three units up to 10 units, depending on the department and are very common in Germany. There are tactical reasons for this. With the city of Regensburg being a prime example, an ‘old’ city in Germany isn’t just a few hundred years old but usually 1 000 to 2 000 years old. The streets in the medieval city centres weren’t designed for fire trucks back then and thus can be very narrow-so narrow that a tiller truck wouldn’t have a chance to get to the scene there. Limited available space in some streets has an effect on German apparatus as well.
The tower ladders hardly carry any equipment: no water tank, no pump, no ground ladders. All that equipment is carried by the engines or rescue-engines, which is a tactical reason they respond together in a convoy. On the bright side, the ladders are extremely versatile: They have a very wide range of operation, including a great below-ground performance as well as an up-and-over capability because of an articulated ladder section. The ladder structure is strong enough to be used for lifting operations up to 8 818 pounds. Some city centres are so tight that the departments purchase them with all-wheel steering despite the truck chassis already being very compact. In Regensburg, none of the tower ladders has all-wheel steering but Tower Ladder 1 has five instead of four ladder segments to achieve a shorter overall length for the truck.
Sources: Feuerwehr Regensburg, Reddit