Attention, the fire brigade arrives!


It is not about a train on tracks. The fire brigade is a tactical unit consisting of multiple vehicles used for fighting fire. In Germany, a brigade consist of about 20 task forces in two groups.



A fire-fighting or rescue train is a railbound means of rescue in disaster control.

The rescue trains are used for saving goods and persons. Whereas a fire-fighting train is used for fire fighting in the vicinity of railway systems. Furthermore, it is used for the retrieval of leaked dangerous substances, in particular mineral oil products.

This type of trains has been around already since the beginning of the railway era. In the beginning, these trains had to retrieve derailed or devastated locomotives. Today, train sets specialised on the rescue service and disaster control are an indispensable component of the rescue chain on rails.

The older rescue trains consist of former passenger cars that have been especially modified. Many rescue trains have low floor wagons that can be loaded with fire brigade vehicles in order to be quickly on site even in case of bad conditions (road connection, weather).


A particular kind of fire-fighting and rescue train is the tunnel rescue train. Because of the ever extending tunnel construction, also more special vehicles are needed that can be on site quickly. Because of the enormous length of some tunnels, the normal fire-fighting trains reach their limits.

In case of a deployment in a tunnel, the container system of modern rescue trains offer protection from heat, gasses and smoke. The containers have a special supply of air and corresponding cleaning. There, the crews and the persons saved can be supplied with breathing air for some hours. Furthermore, people can get medial care in the medical units. Likewise, huge amounts of extinguishing agent can be transported. At the head of the train, there are fire-fighting robots. These are remote-controlled and work directly at the fire source.



approx. 1.1 million Active (Without youngsters)
approx. 96% Quota of volunteers
approx. 7% Women's quota
approx. 250,000 Youth fire brigade
approx. 25,000 total number: Division
approx 24,000 Voluntary fire-fighters
approx. 900 Works fire brigades
approx. 300 Company fire brigades
approx. 100 Professional fire brigades
approx. 5 Obligatory fire brigades
approx. 3.5 million total number: Deployments

63 % Professional fire brigade (Incl. rescue service)
33% Voluntary fire brigade
4% works fire brigade


The best-known piece of fire-fighting equipment is certainly the fire hose. Without it, nothing works. The fire hose has the task to transport fire-fighting water or the mixture of water/foam towards the fire. There are two important types of hoses: suction hoses and pressure hoses. One type sucks the liquid in and the other type presses the water or the water/foam mixture under pressure through the hose. 

Couplings are used in order to connect hoses. In Germany and Austria, these fire-fighting couplings also determine their size naming (A, B, C, D). An example: the hose with the designation Pressure Hose C-42-15 is a hose with C-size pressure coupling, an inner diameter of 42 mm and a length of 15 m.



The first rubberised hose was introduced in the year 1865 at the German Fire Brigade Day in Leipzig. In the years between 1809 and 1870 also riveted leather hoses were used. These hoses needed to be greased after each use in order to keep them flexible. Since the maintenance costs for leather hoses were quite high, they were soon replaced by the more convenient hoses made of hemp.


In the so-called mini fire brigades – often also referred to as bambini fire brigade or children‘s fire brigade – the children from the age of six years are in a playful way shown the right behaviour in dangerous situation.



The youth fire brigade is the youth section of the volunteer fire brigade. The Deutsche Jugendfeuerwehr (short DJF) is the youth organisation within the German fire brigade association.

The youth fire brigade aims at preparing children and youths for their commitment to the fire brigade, so that they can be assigned to the deployment division of the volunteer fire brigade according to their age and qualification. However, until a specific age, they must not be deployed in the danger zone of a firefighting job. Furthermore, the youth fire brigade performs important tasks in the sector of the general youth work where it participates in caring for children and youths by various recreational opportunities.



Statistics on fires in Germany say that in Germany a fire starts every two minutes.


Photos: Michael Schwarzenberger, Manfred Zimmer