Fire brigade in Switzerland

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Badge of the Swiss fire brigades
On-call and transport vehicle
Fireboat on the Rhine in Basel ( Switzerland )

The fire brigades in Switzerland are organized differently than in Austria or Germany , since in most cantons there is a fire brigade duty for adult men and sometimes women . 98,000 firefighters work in the fire brigades for fire protection and general assistance. The fire brigade in Switzerland can be reached on the emergency number 118 .

History of the Swiss fire services

As early as 1274, the city of Zurich had an organization similar to a fire brigade, the so-called watch. They were put together from war-ready citizens who were under the command of captains, so-called fire masters. The size of these guards was dependent on the size of the city. Zurich owned about eleven, Burgdorf, for example, only two.

In the countryside, so-called water sprayers were used until the 18th century, and in the poorer regions even until the 19th century.

Fires were reported by ringing a bell, fire horns or by shouting the word "Fürio". Usually the citizens were gathered in a place where a fire chief gave instructions. Where there was no water syringe, water was passed in buckets on a chain of people to the fire place, where attempts were made to contain the fire. Other citizens have been posted to guard duty to prevent looting.

How this had to be done was already written down in ordinances at that time, such as the fire regulations of Freiburg (1411) or Oberaargau (18th century).

In the second half of the 19th century, a hydrant network was slowly but steadily expanded in larger cities such as Basel, Bern and Zurich. At the same time, the first permanent fire watch were established, the first in Basel (1871). From 1905, the first motorized self-propelled water sprayers and the first fire engines were used. From this moment on, constant improvements in fire fighting took place, such as the introduction of breathing apparatus or more modern vehicles such as turntable ladders or rescue vehicles.

The first professional fire brigade was founded in Lausanne in 1882 , later followed by Bern , Basel , Neuchâtel , Zurich Winterthur , St. Gallen and Lucerne .

Militia fire brigade

Although the working methods of most fire brigades in Switzerland are similar to those in Germany and Austria, the service is only voluntary in a few cantons. In many places there is still a legal obligation to provide service, for both men and women. A replacement fee for the fire service, which varies in amount depending on the municipality and canton, has to be paid by the person who cannot or does not want to perform any service (e.g. for health reasons). These militia fire brigades are organized in the Swiss militia system .

Due to this widespread compulsory service, there are only a few volunteer fire brigades in Switzerland . There are also professional fire departments in Switzerland (in large cities and as airport fire departments ) and company fire departments (plant fire departments ).

Transition to volunteer fire brigades

At the moment, more and more volunteer fire brigades are deployed in various locations. Especially in the canton of Zurich , where the cantonal building insurance has changed the fire brigades significantly in recent years, but volunteer fire brigades have also emerged in the canton of Zug and Glarus .

In Zurich, the cantonal fire brigade created a supreme body that oversees the fire service and is responsible for training. With the law on fire police and fire services from 1978 , the voluntary nature of the fire service was established. Forced recruitment can therefore only take place under very special conditions. The law does not provide for an alternative fire service charge. As a result, the former compulsory fire brigades were transferred to voluntary fire brigades throughout the canton of Zurich.

In most cantons, however, no voluntary fire brigade is sought or the obligation to serve is even extended. However, this often has no security policy considerations, but enables the municipalities to collect the replacement tax from a larger group of people, which is usually colloquially known as the “fire brigade tax”, without the tax having to be officially increased.

Organization and financing

The fire brigades in Switzerland are regulated by cantonal law. The Swiss Fire Brigade Coordination (FKS), which regulates the principles of cooperation between all cantons, is above this. In addition, the FKS is also responsible for training all fire service members. The FKS also defines the goals and regulates their implementation, insures all fire brigade members and, moreover, the FKS represents the fire brigade vis-à-vis the federal government and works with a wide range of organizations and associations, above all the Swiss Fire Brigade Association and the Association of Swiss Professional Fire Brigades (VSBF).

As an umbrella organization for all cantonal fire service associations, the Swiss Fire Brigade Association represents all fire service members in Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein.

Organizing a fire brigade is primarily the task of the municipality. However, in recent years the local fire brigades have been merged regionally in many cases. The goal of a cost-effective, but still better equipped composite fire departments that have local knowledge but in the villages firefighters. The fire brigades are financed to around 60% by the state, cantonal building insurance, which in turn demands premiums from the building owners, which are classified by the construction method. The remaining costs are covered by the municipalities and by penalties (e.g. for false alarms ).

The Cantonal Fire Brigade Inspectorate of the respective canton monitors whether a municipality is taking care of its fire brigade . The cantonal fire brigade inspectorate is also the body that is allowed to issue regulations and divides the municipalities into a hazard class, from which in turn the size of the fire brigade can be derived.

Large cities (with more than 100,000 inhabitants) have professional fire brigades that are better trained and also have special equipment, for example for chemical accidents . One advantage of the dense railway network is the possible use of fire fighting trains in the event of fires next to railway lines.

Operating fire departments exist in among others: Swiss Federal Railways , BLS AG , u. a. with the fire and rescue train , Hoffmann-La Roche , Johnson Controls , Brenntag Schweizerhall, University Hospital Basel and Uetikon University Hospital , DiverseyLever, Migros-Vertriebsbetrieb Neuendorf AG, Glassworks Bülach, Canton Hospitals Schaffhausen and Winterthur, University of Zurich, University Hospital Zurich, Cliag Schaffhausen, Georg Fischer Schaffhausen and Merck and Cie. Schaffhausen. The companies Bosch (Beringen SH), IVF (Neuhausen am Rheinfall SH) and SIG (Neuhausen am Rheinfall SH) maintain the joint and cross-community company fire service association Rhyfall.

Swiss fire brigade museums include the Swiss Fire Brigade Museum in Basel and the Fire Brigade and Crafts Museum Endingen in Endingen AG .

See also

Web links

Commons : Fire Brigade in Switzerland  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Fire Department. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland. Historisches Lexikon Bern, accessed on January 22, 2019 .
  2. ^ Anne-Marie Dubler: Fire Brigade. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland. Retrieved January 22, 2019 .
  3. About us / Mission. Feukos, accessed January 21, 2019 .
  4. Facts about the fire brigade. Swiss Fire Brigade Association, accessed on January 21, 2019 .
  5. Basel-Stadt: Company fire brigades ( Memento from June 27, 2013 in the Internet Archive ), Hoffmann-La Roche AG company fire brigade, Pharma location Basel. Accessed September 18, 2013.
  6. Endingen Fire Brigade and Crafts Museum . Accessed September 18, 2013.