Organisation & Legal Regulations
GermanyStructure of the fire brigade in Germany using the Kabelsketal municipality as an example
In Germany, fire protection is a task for the 16 federal states according to the Basic Law. These can regulate more detailed to the state in the fire protection law. Fire protection is a compulsory task for the municipalities and cities that are not bound by instructions. This means that every municipality can set up fire protection as it wants. One exception is the requirement to set up a professional fire brigade with more than 100,000 inhabitants (80,000 inhabitants in Saxony). Among them there are almost exclusively volunteer fire brigades or volunteer fire brigades with full-time members. Whereby these are to be seen in the training like a professional fire brigade. The municipality of Kabelsketal relies exclusively on a volunteer fire brigade consisting of volunteer members. In most cases the municipality fire brigade is split into several local fire brigades. In the Kabelsketal there are six. In larger cities with professional fire brigades there can also be more than 20.
The structure of the volunteer fire brigade is shown here using the example of Kabelsketal. The mayor is the highest fire protector. His professional representation is the head of the municipal fire brigade. The head has two representatives, one responsible for education and training and the other for preventive fire protection. This applies in each case at the municipal level. Additionally there are, as already mentioned, the 6 local fire brigades with the respective local fire brigade leaders and their substitutes. These are responsible for the local fire brigades. These include Dieskau-Zwintschöna, Dölbau, Gröbers, Großkugel, Osmünde and Schwoitzsch in the Kabelsketal of the fire brigades. The individual local fire brigades each have a more or less large emergency department with equipment keeper, youth fire brigade with youth keeper, children's fire brigade with children's fire keeper as well as age and honorary department.
According to the Fire Protection Act of the State of Saxony-Anhalt (BrSchG LSA), fire protection and assistance according to § 1 is structured as follows. The defence against fire hazards (preventive fire protection), fire fighting (defensive fire protection) and assistance in the event of accidents and emergencies. They are tasks of the municipalities, towns, counties and the federal state. Preventive fire protection includes all actions taken to prevent fires and to protect people, animals, property and the environment from the dangers of fires, as well as to educate people about fire safety practices. Fire prevention includes all activities aimed at combating risks to persons, animals, property and the environment caused by fires. Assistance or technical assistance includes all measures to defend people, animals, property and the environment in the event of accidents or emergencies. This also includes all measures of assistance by means of water and mountain rescue, insofar as emergency rescue tasks are not performed.
According to § 2, the following tasks are assigned to the municipality. With the exception of the fire safety show, the municipalities are responsible for fire protection and assistance as tasks of their own sphere of activity. In particular, the municipalities must set up, equip, maintain and deploy an efficient fire brigade and equip it with the necessary structural facilities and equipment, as well as ensure an adequate supply of extinguishing water. Furthermore, the training and further education of the members of the fire brigade must be secured as well as preparatory fire-fighting measures must be taken, public relations work must be carried out, information must be provided on actions in line with fire protection regulations and fire safety guards must be provided. The fire brigade shall be organised in such a way that, as a general rule, it can arrive at the location of the operation at any time and at any place within its area of responsibility which can be reached via public transport areas under normal conditions within 12 minutes of the alert being called. A municipality shall, at the request of another municipality or at the request of the county, provide neighbourhood assistance free of charge to another municipality, provided that such assistance does not put at risk the fire-fighting measures and the provision of assistance in its territory. A claim for refund of the costs incurred by the neighbourhood assistance exists if it was provided more than 15 kilometres (as the crow flies) from the municipal border.
DenmarkBesides the volunteers at the municipal Fire & Rescue Services, the governmental Fire & Rescue Service (DEMA), which is a supplement to the municipal Fire & Rescue Services, is organized with six barracks, and one of them is staffed with volunteers. They support the municipal Fire and Rescue Service fx. with heavy materiel and extra crew.
In Denmark, the volunteer fire brigades, are regulated by The Emergency Management Act:
§51. The Minister of Defence shall lay down rules on the training of personnel who are not remunerated for their participation in the fire and rescue services (volunteers). This includes payments to the volunteers and the distribution of expenses between the State and the municipalities.
(2) The Minister of Defence shall determine the tasks that may be undertaken by volunteers at the national fire and rescue service.
(3) The municipal council determines the tasks that may be undertaken by volunteers at the municipal fire and rescue service.
The law is not very detailed, but the municipal Fire & Rescue Services, can implement the volunteer fire brigades in their risk based design. The use of volunteers in the fire & Rescue Service, are very different, and not all Services uses volunteers.
Example: Frederiksborg Fire & Rescue Service has identified a need for extra manpower and materiel, especially for large incidents, and incidents related to climate changes. The risk based design contains information about level of education, as well capacities and competences.
CroatiaVolunteer fire brigades in Croatia are matter of local municipalities, but professional fire brigades are being financed by State. This system is leading towards more professional fire brigades. New national system for firefighting is now being developed, since Government wants one national organization for all fire service personnel. In 2020 new system should be implemented.
General law for volunteer fire brigades is “Firefighting act” which gives general descriptions, conditions and other technical details on firefighting. Unfortunately, it does not give detailed answers to all problems in volunteer fire brigades system.
EstoniaThe Salvation Association unites and represents voluntary associations in Estonia in the area of rescue. It includes fire fighting, sea rescue, dog rescue, water saving, rope rescue, people searches, prevention, and many other relief organizations. The day-to-day activities of the Salvation Association are arranged by the chairman of the management board, the strategy is set by the council. The Council of the Union is elected on the basis of the principle that each member of the Estonian electoral college is represented by:
- one member of the Council
- two members representing members of the All-Estonia region
- one member representing the rescuers
- one member representative of the Estonian Firefighting Association
- one of the members representing numerous islands in Estonia
The Salvation Association has 116 member associations:
- Honor members – 1 (NGO Estonian Fire Brigade Union)
- Supporting members – 4
- National Societies – 8 (Estonian Chamber of Chimneys Cleaners, Light Industry Firefighting Club, Association of Chimneys and Pottery Works, Search and Rescue Work, Volunteer House of Thoughts, Technical Rescue, Voluntary Rescue Team, ESTSAR)
- North Estonian region – 33
- South Estonian region – 25
- East Estonian region - 23
- West Estonian region – 22
- 139 volunteer brigades and 4 reserv brigades
- 3000+ volunteer rescuers in total
- 72 professional brigades, 2200 members
- 350 always on duty
- GENERAL PROVISIONS
- RESCUE SERVICE AGENCIES AND FUNCTIONS OF RESCUE SERVICE AGENCIES
- PROCESSING OF PERSONAL DATA
- MEASURES AND AUXILIARY MEANS OF RESCUE BOARD (The Rescue Board has the right to perform acts (notices, recommendations, warnings) whereby the public or a person is notified of a rescue event or a threat related thereto)
- DIRECT COERCION (Direct coercion shall mean affecting of a natural person, an animal or a thing by physical force)
- PARTICIPATION IN INTERNATIONAL RESCUE WORK AND EXPLOSIVE ORDNANCE DISPOSAL
- PARTICIPATION OF VOLUNTARY RESCUER IN ACTIVITY OF RESCUE BOARD
- IMPLEMENTING PROVISIONS (Training of voluntary rescuer)
BulgariaThere are 28 districts and 265 municipalities in Bulgaria, in which there are 28 Regional professional Fire departments, and 170 municipal professional fire services. There are 220 voluntary formations. In Sevlievo municipality (covering a territory of 1.040 sq.m. and a population about 36.000 inhabitants) there is 1 professional fire brigade including 4 shifts with 7 people each, and 1 VF with 32 members.
National documents defining the activity of Volunteer Fire Brigades are:
- Strategy for development the volunteer formations for protection of disasters, fire and other emergency cases in Republic of Bulgaria for the period 2012 – 2020 year
- Strategy implementation plan for the period 2013 – 2020 year
- Ordinance for the establishment and organization of the activity of the voluntary formations for prevention or control of disasters, fire and extraordinary situations and treatment of their consequences.
- Ordinance for conditions, rules for receipt and dimensions of payments received for training and implementing tasks for protection against disasters
HungaryThe Füzesgyarmat Volunteer Fire Brigade consists of management members, professional group leader and other members. The other Volunteer Fire Brigades in Hungary are organized in a similar way depending on the size of the fire brigade. In the Füzesgyarmat Volunteer Fire Brigade the management members are:
- president of the fire brigade (István Nagy)
- secretary (Viven Novák)
- economic secretary (Ildikó Molnár)
There are legal regulations regarding volunteer fire brigades in Hungary. Since 2012 firefighting is state issue, the National Directorate General for Disaster Management is responsible for the connected tasks. Official fire brigades operate on the basis of law CXXVIII. (2011). With law CXCII. (2013) volunteer fire brigades gained more independency.
The law is very detailed regarding the right to take part in operations individually (without the participation of professional fire brigade), and there are regulations regarding the minimal necessary equipment and their maintenance. The law defines the terms of “contributing volunteer fire brigade” and “intervener volunteer fire brigade” based on the right if they can make actions alone or they are allowed only to help the professional fire brigade. The law itself also contains that the criterion to become an “intervener volunteer fire brigade” is to sign an agreement with the National Directorate General for Disaster Management. The body examines the vehicles, equipment and human resources of the volunteer fire brigade then decides about signing the agreement or not. It is also included that the regional body of the National Directorate General for Disaster Management checks regularly the operation and actions of the volunteer fire brigades and it has the right to ask them for changes if they are experiencing irregularity.
One important rule is also defined by the law: if someone is a professional member of a disaster body then this person cannot be appointed as a leader of a volunteer fire brigade. He/she can be a member, but this fact should be announced to the professional organization where he/she is currently working.