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Volunteer firefighters, disaster relief

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I left army because with re-union the army was going into a reform phase. I transformed my last 4 active years into 24 years at volunteer disaster relief and volunteer firefighters. Kinda the same I did at army at fulltime, but unpaid and only on demand. But I could study and keep the health insurance and the years add to the money which I get as retirement when grey and old.


My oldest daughter (volunteer fire fighter too) and me spend last 2 evenings being at volunteer firefighters to support the THW with preparing for a possible flood in easter germany: controlling equipment, preparing trucks, re-writing emergency plans in case a disaster happens at our place while the THW is in east germany,....


Anyone in this forum is a volunteer firefighter too?


What are you using to fight river flooding:


A quickdamm-system which are elements of elastic cubes which are open on the top ,to be filled quickly with the elements which you have a lot at a flood: water.


Or if you need a higher damm, filled with sand.






How do you fight bush fires? With explosives?





Would be interested which equipment you are using, if your country/district has paid or volunteer firefighters, disaster relief, ...

At which age can kids join volunteer firefighters and start to train?


Edited by chattius
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Flood warning level 4 (highest possible) reached today in east germany. The pump units (same which were in New Orleans after Katrina) of our local THW are already in poland to do disaster relief. The damm units are in readiness for departing to east germany.

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It is a bit like the 1997 flood. A cyclone from the mediterrane was rotating into the eastern alpes and slowed down while being forced to cross the alpes. Then the cyclone hit the carpathian mountains which are even higher. But clouds climbing to 5000+ metres cause rain. So a whole cyclone released the water it would in 2 month in a wide area in just one day in a small area.



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Ouch! Thanks for the link.


You can see I am out of date with the news - don't watch TV (couldn't even if we wanted to now it has gone digital), don't get newspapers. I know there is a hurricane when a tree falls on the house. I know it is raining when the cellar access floods. We occasionally get family emailing to ask if we are OK, when we have not even been aware that most of France is devastated by bad weather. Peaceful isolation. (touch wood)

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Bomb explosion in Göttingen yesterday evening. Looks like a 1000pound WW2 bomb with an acid fuse exploded. Evacuation was not fully finished when it happened and the disarming people were still bringing their stuff to the place: 3 dead, 7 severely injured.


20 years ago a bomb with an acid fuse killed 2 disarmers at my then hometown Wetzlar. First reports say that it may be the same reason: The acid fuse is in the rear part of the bomb. If the bombs hits soft/muddy ground it will slide and tumble. So the front of the bomb may be up, which will block the fuse till the bomb is moved or the fuse triggered by vibrations.


We use to do joined trainings with bomb disarmers of our state when trying out explosive hoses to fight forest fires. The explosive hoses could be used to stop dust storms after an explosion too.

Göttingen is another state and bomb disarming people are state bound, police in most german states. Exceptions are Hamburg where they belong to fire fighters (because of the big amount of bombs which hit the city) and Schleswig where they belong to disaster relief- reason being ships with ammunition which sunk at the coasts and the load sometime washed to the coasts when the ships are rotting away.


So it's is not very probable that I know them, being in another state. But most of the explosive people in my unit moved to police in their home state after their army time. So I can't be really sure. It is sad in any way.

Edited by chattius
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That bloody war! Keep trying to forget and it keeps coming back.


I suppose we are lucky in a way. Other parts of the world there are monstrous problems with old bombs and landmines still lying about for the kids to play around.


How are the floods by the way?

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The 3 rivers flowing into the larger one had each a flood running. Luckily the feared amplitude multiplying by all 3 flood waves coming together at a single point wasn't happening. The flood from one river was already lowering for a few hours when the floods from the other rivers arrived. Small damages at damms, some single streets flooded. But no whole town here in germany and no deaths.

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  • 11 months later...

Yesterday afternoon our firefighting unit was called by the unit in a neighbour village, which requested for help with heavy gear (hydraulic presses, cutters). A car lost control, rolled downhills, hit a tree and was laying on it's top. I was just returning from work when the call arrived and when I appeared at the accident place collegues were already cutting the persons free. Since a rear door was open but only 2 persons on front seats I was told to search the nearby area with my dogs: if a person was thrown out of the car and laying somewhere else, if animals would be involved and wounded, ...

The persons couldn't be asked and we didn't know (even today) how the crash happened. So we had to exclude animals, more persons in the car, bikers or walker involved, ... The co-driver (19 years) died while the hydraulic press was brought into place, the driver (18 years) was severely injured but not life threatening.


The police accident research team arrived, lot of photo's, and I was told to come back with my Unimog to make access to the crash place: cutting 8 trees and pulling them away. So the car could be transported away to police. At home I asked my oldest to help loading up our woodcutter equipment and we drove to the place. When we arrived she was shocked and said "I know this car, its from a boy from my school..."

She is at youth group at volunteer firefighters and since we live countryside with small villages, there is a high chance that people we know are involved into an accident when firefighters are called, but I should have thought about it and not taking her with me.


german news article


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That's a frightening experience Chattius. I dont' think I would have been able to even think properly for a few days after that, specially with someone that your daughter knew.


My condolences. I hope your family is pulling together through this.





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I think it helped her a bit that she could help in clearing up the "WHY?" question which is always there, even unsaid. Out of my experiences it helps families a lot if they understand why an accident was: trying to evade an animal, another car (which would have driven away), driving uphill into deep sun, ...


I told her by helping in solving the WHY she was at least doing something to help the family, even if too late for the boy. Helping to recover the car is one of the needed steps for solving the WHY.


Cases in which the driver survives, but not a co-driver, are specially hard for the affected families. Best to solve quickly if there was any mistake leading to the accident.


At least we knew the writer for the newspaper and told him not do just copy the police report. So the article doesn't have this stupid: "2 persons killed, material damage on car was considered 500 euro." I think it hurts friends and family if a loss of life is mentioned same line with a tiny amount of money damage.


Another problem are Unfallkreuze=roadside memorials. Even it is proved to be good for the families to do their mourning at the place of death: if these memorial places are too big and at a place a driver needs his eyes focused on the road they may even cause another accident?


So they are normally not allowed. but tolerated if only for a few weeks:



Police tries to do compromises and helps in making them if asked. Depending on religion they try to find a proper solution. Most often they just say that it has to be on the side of a tree which a driver can't see, or behind the steel trails, or camouflaged, ...


But is this really the right way to do it? This is the roadside memorial of a firefighter in Bavaria:



At the trees right in the picture you see the bark removed by the crash and that it is older. The memorial was camoufladed between 2 bushes. Now look at this picture:



Same memorial place, but the neighbour tree has a fresh mark from a crash and a new memorial in front and you start to curse seeing this. Would perhaps a visible roadside memorial prevented the new accident? In our neighbour-state police does a small remembering stone at accident places and erects for example big white crosses at a place before the curve which lead to a deadly accident to warn drivers to slow down.

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I fully agree with you on the whys of accidents. That is important part of understanding repercussions and fears and making us heal, fell better. I am thinking people dont want to believe that things like this can happen and that it could possibly happen again. Talking about it is helps put things in places, perspective...and maybe even offers a kind of protection.


Your writing of roadside memorials interests me. We don't have that in Montreal or anywhere I have seen close to me here. I have mixed emotions, as you mention on putting hugely emotional moments like that on roadways where they can obviously pull a driver's attention away from driving?




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Here it is century old tradition to place a cross/stone at the place of a death caused by non natural reasons like accidents. Some remained for more than 300 years. But in old times such accident places were not roads with fast driving cars.

Sometimes rhymes where put on the attached plaques a year later. Just thought out examples, but close to existing old-german ones kept in museums specialized on old traditions.


AD 1801

XXX was drowning at this place when just thirteen

From one moment to the next: never again was seen

So to all who want do swimming

Read this and listen to the warning



AD 1843

XXX had to bring in the harvest

never stopped, not doing a rest

The weather was hot, and rain clouds popped

Busy he was was, never stopped

'Rain is coming, I have to bring in the harvest'

he said when a stroke brought him to final rest


So they were both: a memorial place and a warning.



A reason for most accidents here are that the roads follow the hills and valleys, often using century old roads used to transport wood and iron ore. Using 4-6 BIG cold-blooded horses to pull a heavy wagon it was normal to have a straight part and then a curve with a constant radius. When arriving at the curve the waggon was stopped and the drawbar adjusted to the angle needed to do the curve without any steering needed. The road was surrounded by trees so you couldn't see into the curve and one of the drivers was normally riding one of the leading horses at curves.


But when driving a car it is like having the steering wheel not turned and as soon as hitting the curve you have to turn it very quickly to the needed angle , keep it into this position and then quickly putting it in a straight position again when leaving the curve. But the boy knew this, so the most probable scenario is that a second car (leaving the place) was there, cutting the curve and forcing an evasion maneuvre. The side on the road was not hard, but gras. So the gras and earth loosed when the car drove over it (confirmed) when evading(not confirmed).


Most modern roads have track transition curves. But doing them would be removing half of a hill.


098 Pferdefuhrwerk mit Langholz.JPG

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But the boy knew this, so the most probable scenario is that a second car (leaving the place) was there, cutting the curve and forcing an evasion maneuvre. The side on the road was not hard, but gras. So the gras and earth loosed when the car drove over it (confirmed) when evading(not confirmed).




The information on how the roads are handled with all the curves is fascinating! Nothing like that here in Montreal (I don't think)


Regarding the scenario of second car... are people thinking that there was another vehicle that has not been found yet...someone who left scene of accident?





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  • 9 months later...

Court trial this week. Second car was said by the driver and supposed to be the case by accident experts, but could not be proven. So I wonder the outcome.


Can you believe that government offers martial arts training for free to first aid people this year? Many drunken young people with illegal knives, Komasaufen, coma drinking, drinking till you drop out, ...


Protecting vests to stop a knife thrust have to be paid by the volunteer first aid people on their own however.

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  • 1 month later...

a 18 and a 17 year old boy died at a moto-cross bike racing ...


My father in law, my brother in law and his son both planed to do the race too. My Grandpa in law was a former state champion in sidecar racing with my wife being the monkey in the sidecar. My oldest was watching races and did them herself till she grew too tall (with around 11 years) and she said she knew the 17 year old from her former age class.


The sad thing is how it happened, not a crash, .... just sleeping. They had a camper van and were sleeping in it at night. In the van was a gas driven refridgerator eating away the oxygen. It was very cold and they didn't open a window or turned the fridge off.


We had a similiar case 4 years back at a local camping place. Luckily the dutch couple bought a new gas bottle for her fridge and the shop owner was the camping place night guard and a member of our firefighters too. He heard a running fridge and woke the family just in time. Shouldn't happen,but many people build their own campers and build the fridge with the heating part into the car instead getting the air from the outside.

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This is a tragic story, and from something so random to happen. We never know when the road shifts quickly huh.


and to think, just from sleeping... do they feel any kind of pain, or they just go unconscious and slowly stop breathing?






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  • 1 year later...

Since I am the mayor (civic leader?) of our small 127 people village I was invited to the district meeting yesterday evening. The main discussion was about the outdated water supply in most of the villages (our house is even not connected to one, we have a fountain).

The old water pipes are concrete and big in diametre. So sediments can settle on the inside. Modern pipes are less in diametre, metal, ... Less sediments and less risc of bacteria. Sounds all good, but then I asked a stupid(?) question: what is the waterflow per minute in such a pipe and I was told 800litres per minute. Given that each of our firefighter pumps do 1000-1200l a minute it was obvious that there would be a problem...

Never ask stupid questions.... You will be the one who is chosen to find a solution for firefighters and calculating the costs.... And doing it before the 2014 household is at district parliament in mid november.

My first idea was a modern modular concept with higher costs first but less in the longrun. Placing 10000l containers with water at important places and buy 3-4 more container trucks. We have one already at our department: and containers for chemical accidents, floods (most used), first aid station,...

So if there is a concert in a 2000 people tent we just bring the first aid container for the duration of the concert and have the truck free for other uses. Same for floods: we leave the container with the 8 pumps and the power unit at a central place and drive the truck away for another container, mainly an empty container to pump dirty and oily waste water in.



Now we seem to need:
some containers with water and trucks for them


cisterns or water reservoirs, higher number than containers because they are not mobile


a fleet of water tankers trucks, which only have a single use and eat maintainance and room at a department


stay at the old big diametre water pipes,but 80% of the pipes had to be replaced anyway and bigger diametre new ones are more expensive and need more maintainanc, add the bigger health risc


someone comes with a clever solution I have not in my mind yet.




Big towns have lot of money, paid firefighters, ... Anyone knowing a good solution for smaller countryside villages?

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how completely out of my box your amazing village world is chattius.

I think the closest I get to concerns for water for fire engines is watching the trucks race by as they get to fires here in Monreal

heh, hopefully your inspiration has happened or will happen upon you soon

Re water supplies, makes me think of my cousin who just got a farm bout two hours away from me, they have a well and pretty good , very tasty drinking water too





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  • 4 weeks later...

At the nearby town of Weilburg (25km) a hospital was burning. 1 dead, several gas poisonings,...

My Pager alerted while I was at work in morning. We made the chemical and gas gear ready, but we weren't needed. Around 250 firefighters were called.

Sad reason, but that would be another reason for the container solution. Just have a gas and chemical container and when needed it is loaded on the truck.

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How big containers do you even need for some of the stuff?


I worked as a naval safety equipment technician; we did the yearly tests on life rafts, fire extinguishers and other ship safety stuff. We could get over 50 extinguishers, 30 breathing apparatuses and other stuff loaded into one van, then once back in the hanger unload it all onto just 2 plastic pallets. Once we were done, the OK stuff was back on the pallets waiting to be shipped out.


So why not go smaller with big storage boxes and one pallet jack? Those you could probably find/build for free/cheap. Then you could work out how to load it on to a regular truck.

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Well at the navy there is more water I guess. Its the water which you can't compress. So the water containers define the size, also you would need a forktruck to load and unload. A big container can be loaded with just the truck driver. Once arriving at a fire szene time is an important factor. A bigger container allows quicker access.


I know the pallets from my time at army running an airbase firefighter platoon. We had ready pallets for helicopter transport to a plane crash outside the airfield. But then I had a platoon. Now the whole village has let me count ... 119 people and the fire department has people from 10 to 81


At the hospital burning the fighters at place needed more breathing gear. So currently other departments had to unload them from their own firetrucks. So it would be good to have a reserve for a bigger fire or truck accident with a chemical load.

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