Neuwerk volunteer fire brigade (Hamburg)

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Neuwerk volunteer fire brigade (Hamburg)
Founding year: 1929
Units: 1
Employee: 9

Coordinates: 53 ° 55 '  N , 8 ° 30'  E

Map: Germany
Neuwerk Island

The Neuwerk volunteer fire brigade is part of the Hamburg fire brigade and works independently as a small unit with nine fire brigade members. It is made up of seven men and two women who do their job on the island of Neuwerk , which is part of the Hamburg district of Neuwerk, with its 36 inhabitants. A special feature of the Neuwerk volunteer fire brigade is the wide range of equipment and the large number of vehicles in relation to the size of the team.


In contrast to what is usual in Germany, there is no regular exercise or training at Neuwerk. Instead, the firefighters are trained and tested once a year by the incoming staff from the Hamburg Fire Brigade Academy. The respiratory protection performance test is carried out by the two breathing apparatus wearers at the professional fire brigade in Cuxhaven . Their training is tailored to the service on the island, which is why it cannot be transferred to other locations.

In addition to the fire service training, all fire service members at Neuwerk have completed medical training and a course in early defibrillation in order to act as a first responder group.


The most common activities of the fire brigade are first responder missions for the approximately 120,000 guests who visit Neuwerk each year. Emergency patients are usually transported by the rescue helicopter " Christoph 26 " from Sanderbusch near Wilhelmshaven (flight time approx. 17 minutes), with the " Christoph 6 " from Bremen (flight time approx. 30 minutes) or the " SAR 10 " from Helgoland ( Flight time approx. 25 minutes). However, these machines cannot fly in bad weather or fog. Then the casualties have to be cared for over a longer period of time on the island until either the rescue cruiser of the German Society for the Rescue of Shipwrecked People (DGzRS) or the German Life Rescue Society (DLRG), both from Cuxhaven, can take over the patient.

Air rescue services are regulated by state treaties between Hamburg and the federal states of Bremen , Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein . However, there have been serious mishaps in practice in the past. The serious accident of a seasonal worker with multiple fractures on September 5, 2004, for example, triggered an extensive political debate on the situation of the rescue service on the island on the basis of a major request in the Hamburg-Mitte district assembly responsible for Neuwerk : The requested rescue flight was despite a good one Weather conditions and 5 nautical miles of clear visibility not carried out, and due to the onset of low tide , the rescue cruiser was unable to advance to the island. The members of the Neuwerk volunteer fire brigade gave the casualty a considerable amount of rum as a makeshift and in the absence of narcotics available, and a dinghy took the person to the DLRG ship in a time-consuming manner. The injured man only arrived at the hospital in Cuxhaven three hours later and had since fallen into a coma from which he never woke up. The circumstances why no rescue helicopter flew to Neuwerk remained unclear and were officially justified by stating “unfavorable weather conditions”.

Every now and then there are classic fire fighting missions on the island.


The alarm is issued by the fire brigade operations center in Cuxhaven. Since there is no siren on Neuwerk and not all comrades are equipped with a radio transmitter (FME), the control center calls a hotel on the island that is run by the head of the fire brigade . This alerts the fire brigade members by phone, who then rush to the scene of the incident. Two comrades move up with the emergency vehicle. The first responders are now alerted via FME.

Since the nine firefighters are insufficient in the event of a major fire, as last happened in 1996, the other islanders and holidaymakers are called in to provide support.


Fire station of the Neuwerk fire brigade (2008)

Rescue vehicle

The universal vehicle of the Neuwerk fire brigade is a former rescue vehicle 1 on a Unimog U 1300 L of the Hamburg fire brigade, which was converted into a rescue vehicle combination. In addition to the usual fire fighting equipment, his load also includes cutting torches , lifting bags , fire extinguishers and bucket syringes , light mast , power generator , two four-part extension ladders, saw equipment and a cable winch . Another special feature is the radar reflector on the roof for detection when deployed in fog or in the Wadden Sea between Cuxhaven and Neuwerk. For inspection this vehicle drives regularly through the Wadden Sea to Sahlenburg and from there on to Hamburg; it can also transport the other vehicles on a trailer. It is not to be confused with the rescue vehicle standardized in Austria .


The Neuwerkers are the only volunteer fire brigade in Hamburg with an ambulance for rescue operations . This has the standard equipment and is regularly replaced by newer vehicles from the Hamburg emergency service.


For missions in the mudflats / sea, the FF Neuwerk also maintains an eight-meter-long multi-purpose boat for mud flats with 40 cm draft of the MZB Watt type. The special boat, which was acquired in 2014, is powered by a 315 hp jet drive. The rescue service equipment includes a rescue platform at the stern, a rescue hatch on the port side and a foldable gangway at the bow, with which people can be rescued from the mudflats or jetties. The fire fighting vehicle serves as the towing vehicle for the single-axle trailer.

Portable pump trailer

In order to be able to set up a high-performance water supply in an emergency, a portable pump trailer is also stationed at Neuwerk . So far, however, this has only been required for water defense operations.

Fire protection

Neuwerk has its own underground hydrant for each of its 13 houses , which is fed from the mainland. These hydrants can deliver up to ten bar water pressure. In addition, there are two extinguishing water tanks with a capacity of 300,000 liters each and several extinguishing water ponds .

Individual evidence

  1. District Assembly Hamburg-Mitte, Small Inquiry “Medical Care and Rescue Services in the Hamburg Wadden Sea National Park and on Neuwerk Island” by MP Hans-Günther Eßler (CDU) and parliamentary group from June 1, 2002 and the District Office's response, printed matter 17/161/02 .
  2. District assembly Hamburg-Mitte, major question "Failure of external rescue services on Neuwerk on September 5, 2004" by MP Alexander-Martin Sardina (CDU) and parliamentary group of September 26, 2004 and answer from the district office, printed matter 18/136/04 (with Minutes of the debate in plenary ).
  3. Kleinboot-FF Neuwerk. In: Hamburg volunteer fire brigade, accessed on March 16, 2018 .