Youth work in the fire department

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German youth fire brigade
Fire fighting exercise carried out by youth fire fighters
Fire fighting exercise carried out by youth fire fighters
Youth fire brigade
Founding year: October 31, 1964
Groups: approx. 18,300
Members: approx. 264,000
Fire brigade youth in Austria
A group from the youth fire brigade from Kufstein / Tyrol during an exercise
A group from the youth fire brigade from Kufstein / Tyrol during an exercise
Youth fire brigade
Founding year: 1935
Members: approx. 26,000

The youth work within the fire brigade aims to promote the next generation in the fire brigade . Depending on the state, this has different names and organizational forms.

Youth fire brigade or fire brigade youth

Association emblem of the DJF

The youth fire department is the youth department in a volunteer fire department . The German Youth Fire Brigade ( DJF for short ) is the youth organization within the German Fire Brigade Association .

In Austria , as in South Tyrol , the youth fire department is an integral part of the fire department in Austria . In 2020, the Austrian Federal Fire Brigade Association lists around 26,000 members of the youth fire department on its website. In South Tyrol, too, around 1,300 young people are organized in the youth fire department.


The aim of the youth fire brigade work is to prepare children and young people for work in the fire brigade, so that they can be deployed in the volunteer fire brigade's operations department after fulfilling the legal requirements and with the appropriate age and qualifications. However, they may not be used in the danger area of ​​fire brigade operations up to a certain age. In addition, the youth fire brigade performs important tasks in the area of ​​general youth work , where it participates in the care of children and young people through various leisure activities. The youth fire brigade is the interface between the management of the volunteer fire brigade and the youth fire brigade. He or the youth committee directs the training.


Youth fire brigade from Hamburg-Hummelsbüttel in 1991

In 1882, Germany's first youth fire brigade was founded in Oevenum on the island of Föhr and is therefore probably the oldest in Europe, but at the time for different, very practical reasons: since the men were mostly at sea, the young people had to take over the fire protection of the island. The first youth fire brigade based on today's model is probably the Niebüll youth fire brigade founded in 1953 . Youth fire brigades were brought into line as the Hitler Youth Fire Brigade (see also HJ patrol service ) in the course of conformity during the Nazi era . The German Youth Fire Brigade (DJF) was founded in Berlin in 1964.

In Germany and Austria you should be ten years old to join a youth fire brigade. But there are federal states in which joining the youth fire brigade is only possible at the age of 12 (e.g. Bavaria). However, in some places there are children's groups so that children from six or eight years of age can get to know the fire department. However, these are not part of the official youth fire brigades. At the age of 18 (North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Wuerttemberg), in other federal states earlier (e.g. in Rhineland-Palatinate, Bavaria, Lower Saxony at the age of 16), a youth fire brigade member can be taken into active service in the fire brigade. At the beginning, the prospective firefighter (SB, squad candidate) goes through the so-called " squad man training " (also called basic course or basic training), in which the basic activities learned in the youth fire brigade are deepened and tested ( e.g. fire training , fire engines , fire fighting ). Corresponding regulations are anchored in the state laws. In Schleswig-Holstein and Bavaria, this squad training can take place even before they are accepted into active service in the fire brigade.

As in Germany, there was a youth fire department in Austria even before the Second World War . For example, the Burgenland State Fire Brigade Act in 1935 provided that youth fire brigades could be formed from boys and youngsters aged 10 to 18 for training purposes . In the same year, youth fire brigades were actually founded, as in Neufeld an der Leitha .

On the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the professional fire brigade , Mayor Helmut Zilk spontaneously founded the fire brigade youth in Vienna. The goal of recruiting young people for the fire brigade takes a back seat here. The fire brigade youth is primarily a youth organization . Youth leaders are both voluntary civilians and members of the professional fire service. As in other federal states, the youth in Vienna are firmly anchored in the state fire service association .

“Young fire protection workers” in the GDR

Young fire protection workers of the GDR

Through the “ Youth Act of the GDR ” of May 4, 1964, the working groups “Young Fire Protection Helpers” were founded in the GDR . Outside of school, they should teach the children the basics of fire protection and organizing fire protection activities. These working groups were generally led by members of the volunteer fire brigade. From the 5th grade, for example, preventive fire protection , fire fighting and first aid were taught in school lessons . After German reunification , the working groups became "youth fire brigades".

Children's fire brigade

In children's fire brigades - in Germany also called mini fire brigades or Bambini fire brigades - children from the age of six are usually taught how to behave in dangerous situations in addition to games and fun. In 1992 the first German mini fire brigade was founded in the Praunheim district of Frankfurt . Numerous other fire departments in Germany have now adopted this concept.

In Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse (since September 2007), entry into such a children's, mini or bambini fire brigade (on a public law basis) is legally possible with a minimum age of six years. Since 2016, children's fire brigades can also be founded in Bremen.


In some federal states there is a children's flame that is similar to the youth flame . Currently the guidelines and levels are different in the federal states. There are only three levels in Saxony-Anhalt and MeckPomm and four in Hesse.

Aim to promote young talent

An important concern of the youth fire brigade is to introduce young people to the tasks of the fire brigade. Due to the changed demographic development in western society (fewer children), this support is very important, as smaller volunteer fire brigades in particular already have personnel concerns. Unfortunately, the number of lateral entrants to the volunteer fire services departments is declining, so that in many places the youth fire service is the largest source of young volunteers.


Many of the members are taken into active service at their own or another fire service at the age of 15. Part of the training can also be taken into account when you take over.

Around 5% of the youth fire brigade members in Austria also work as a fire fighter at one of the six professional fire brigades. In the special case of the City of Vienna, they remain voluntary members of the disaster relief service in Vienna. On average there are 40 to 60 members.

Example East Germany

In the new federal states in particular, there is the problem that a large number of trained young people, ready for active service in the fire brigade, are moving away from their homeland to West Germany . This is mostly due to poor training and employment opportunities for young people in East German regions.

Ultimately, adolescents were trained as firefighters, but the aim of the fire brigades concerned to keep new firefighters in place was not achieved. This means that there are only very few young emergency workers left in economically weak regions.

General problems and solution strategies

The physical distance from home and workplace reduces the alertness of the fire brigade at the commuter's home, especially during the day . In addition, the continuously necessary further training represents an additional burden for volunteers who are already required in professional life. The incompatibility of volunteering, work and family is also named in empirical studies as the main reason for the termination of voluntary engagement. Volunteers who are ready to leave also report problems within the organization more frequently and perceive the internal climate as being rather unfavorable. It is noticeable that volunteer firefighters who are ready to leave are not exposed to higher time requirements (e.g. from work or family) than volunteers who want to continue their commitment. This indicates that incompatibility is not an isolated temporal problem, but a complex phenomenon that is related to collective necessity (temporal and spatial flexibility) and individual prioritization of areas and content of life. On the other hand, according to studies in recent years, companies have increasingly resorted to the experience that members of voluntary organizations and, above all, the fire brigade as workers, this has been increasingly in demand in the economy, especially since leadership and team skills.

In view of this multitude of challenges, which result from the "disadvantageous" development tendencies of modern working life and society, new forms of organization are being sought. In the last few years, the attempt by the Offenbach District Fire Brigade Association to link active member recruitment and course training where these are most likely to be found: in schools, has attracted nationwide attention . This took up an approach that had not been used since the Second World War.

In the Offenbach district, for example, since 2007, as part of a cooperation between the Claus-von-Stauffenberg-Schule, a high school in Rodgau with almost 700 students, the Rodgau volunteer fire brigade and the DRK-Rettungsdienst Offenbach gGmbH, interested students have been offered all in one Cross-subject and cross-year training program offered the opportunity to take the basic course of the volunteer fire brigades and the fire department paramedic course in accordance with the training and examination regulations of the Hessian State Fire Brigade School in Kassel outside of the regular lessons . Even more than the awarding of the Federal “Helping Hand” prize by the Federal Ministry of the Interior in 2010 and the “Golden Collectible” 2013 at the 3rd Federal Congress / 2. IFStar specialist forum of the German Fire Brigade Association in Berlin, the 250 graduates, 42 of whom have since joined the operations department of the Rodgau Volunteer Fire Brigade, stand for the success of this attempt. The training program thus contributes more than 50 percent to the recruitment of young people within the age group of 17 to 23 year olds for the Rodgau volunteer fire brigade.

Education and community

Exercise by the youth fire brigade

Training of the youth fire brigade warden and supervisor

A youth fire brigade is looked after by youth fire brigade stations, often supported by youth group leaders and other supervisors. Everyone should be in possession of a valid youth group leader card (Juleica). The number of rural districts in Germany - especially in Rhineland-Palatinate - that value this qualification is increasing steadily. In some federal states, for example Bavaria, there are special training courses to become a youth fire brigade.

Training of young people

Such a group usually meets weekly for joint training. The training includes learning basic activities in the fire service as well as the practice of dexterity, agility and general knowledge . Joint activities outside of the scope of the fire service are also on the program in many youth fire departments. For example, tent camps , visits to the cinema or sports activities such as football can be carried out. These particularly promote the development of a sense of togetherness (see also: comradeship ) within the youth fire brigade, which should later prepare for the community in the fire brigade. The work in the youth fire brigade therefore includes both the area of ​​fire brigade training and general youth work . In the meantime, the youth fire brigade is also placing increasing emphasis on social aspects. For example, the so-called “youth flame” can be acquired in three stages, the requirements of which are tailored to the respective age. This award is only given to youth firefighters who have carried out a targeted, if possible social project (from level II). Theater plays can be practiced, playground sponsorships or other projects carried out that are intended to benefit society, be it for entertainment or support.

Other training activity

Particularly progressive youth fire brigades seek intensive contact with their "big" partners in the operations department at an early stage. In joint exercises with them, it becomes clear to the young people that they too “belong” and are an important part of the fire service.

As part of general youth work, some youth fire brigades take part in the international youth project Young Helpers on the Air - YHOTA, which aims to establish communication and friendships with other youth fire brigades and youth groups from other aid organizations and school medical services during a worldwide "radio party" to promote one another. The amateur radio service not only offers radio links with other youth groups, but also with the Antarctic research station Neumayer III and the international space station ISS .

On September 15, 2007, the project "Water wall for Rwanda" took place in Rhineland-Palatinate. The aim was to build the longest wall of water in the world and thus raise funds for the construction of a school for the deaf in Rwanda.


Bad Zwischenahn youth fire brigade

The uniform of the youth fire brigade in Germany consists of sturdy shoes, youth fire brigade trousers, youth fire brigade blouson, helmet and cut-resistant plastic gloves (clothing guideline of the German youth fire brigade ). Many youth fire departments also procure weatherproof youth fire department parkas, safety shoes, safety boots and / or oil rain jackets at their own expense. The jackets have the basic color blue and orange on the shoulders. They are provided with a reflective strip on the back. The pants are in blue with reflective stripes. The all-weather jacket is blue and orange from chest height. On the back there is a back label attached with Velcro. This is often printed with the name of the respective youth fire brigade.

The uniform of the youth fire brigade in Austria depends on the respective regional fire brigade association or the individual fire brigade and usually consists of sturdy boots or shoes, firefighter trousers (including belt) and head protection.

Youth firefighters on duty

The regulations on how young people can (or may) take part in fire service operations differ from state to state within Germany and sometimes within a district . For example, according to the Bavarian Fire Brigade Act, young people over the age of 16 can take part in operations outside the immediate danger zone (e.g. as radio operators or detectors). The execution of the regulation is subject to the commander of the respective fire brigade. There are fire brigades that forbid young people to move out until they are 18 years of age, while others expressly allow this and equip their young people with portable alarm receivers (so-called "alarms" or "beepers") or send them via SMS ("mobile phone Alerting ").

The training with the fire brigade youth in Austria replaces some necessary training steps if they can be transferred to the active at the age of 15 (in some federal states from the age of 16). Fire brigade members who have already acquired performance badges in the youth fire department (knowledge test in gold, skill badge, 3rd test) can have these credited towards the basic training. In addition, they achieve the rank of firefighter after just six months.

Organization of the German Youth Fire Brigade

The youth fire brigade is part of the volunteer fire brigade of the respective community. Nevertheless, it has its own structure and form of organization and discipline. As a rule, all German youth fire brigades are organized through their city or district youth fire brigades as well as state youth fire brigades in the German Youth Fire Brigade (DJF), an area within the German Fire Brigade Association (DFV). In the meantime (as of December 2017), the German Youth Fire Brigade, as the umbrella organization, has a total membership of around 264,000. The total number of youth fire departments in Germany amounts to over 18,300.

The individual groups are led by the youth fire department. At the city or district level, the individual groups come together as city or district youth fire brigade, which is represented by a city or district youth fire brigade. All youth fire departments are also part of the state and federal youth fire departments. At this level, too, delegate meetings of the youth fire brigades take place. The state associations are represented by the state youth fire brigade warden and the federal youth fire brigade by the federal youth leader.

General youth-specific activities

In Germany, most youth groups in the fire brigade offer joint trips or tent camps within the local fire brigade or at community, city or district level (also with the participation of the fire brigade associations). This participation is voluntary. These activities promote cohesion within the organization.

In Austria, in addition to the actual training for the fire service, there are also numerous general youth activities at the fire service, district or state level. There are, for example, football tournaments or ski championships. Tent camps are also organized, which are also sometimes organized in conjunction with the youth performance competitions. In Upper Austria, for example, the six-district fire brigade youth camp should be mentioned, which has been held for over 50 years and is intended to improve togetherness.


Competition of youth fire brigades

Badge of achievement in Germany

Youth flame level 1 Lower Saxony

In Germany there are various badges for the children's and youth fire services:

Consists of an A part (fire fighting exercise) and a B part (relay race) with various obstacles and tasks.

Badge of achievement in Austria

As with the active members, there are also competitions among the youth fire brigade, which are carried out up to the federal level but also internationally. Every two years, the federal competition or the state championship for young fire fighters takes place in a federal state, for which the participating groups in the state competition must qualify in the respective federal state; a total of around 35 groups from Austria. In Austria there are various badges for young firefighters:


  • Fire department youth achievement badge bronze
  • Fire Brigade Youth Achievement Badge Silver
  • Fire Brigade Youth Achievement Badge Gold (not in all federal states)
  • New fire brigade youth performance badge gold (from the age of 15)
  • German fire brigade youth performance badge (can be earned multiple times)
  • Achievement badge of the CTIF (World Championship)


There are also a number of applications and knowledge reviews among the youth fire brigade. There is a badge for every successful participation in a competition or a knowledge check. Basically, a distinction is made between applications for 10 and 11 year olds and those between 12 and 15 year olds. Another distinction is the level (district, state, federal).

There is a competition for the fire brigade youth performance badge in all federal states. The fire brigade youth performance competition is carried out according to nationwide uniform regulations (technical booklet No. 4). Section, district, state and federal fire service youth competitions are held.

A group (9 participants) has to master two disciplines. In the "obstacle course" discipline, the participants have to overcome various obstacles and lay an extinguishing line and carry out an extinguishing attack using a bucket syringe. Device and knot knowledge is also in demand. The second discipline is the 400 m relay race in which a jet pipe is passed from competitor to competitor and various obstacles have to be overcome.

The fire brigade youth performance badge is only awarded at the state and federal fire brigade youth performance competition. The competition at state level serves as a qualification for the federal competition, which is held every two years. This in turn serves for qualification for the international youth fire brigade competitions, which are organized by the CTIF and also take place every two years.

There are various knowledge reviews in the federal states. The knowledge test is carried out in all federal states, but according to different regulations.

Knowledge tests

There are different regulations for the knowledge tests in the federal states. For example, while in Carinthia there is a knowledge game for members of the youth fire brigade up to the age of 12, this form of imparting knowledge does not exist in all federal states. There are also different provisions for the knowledge tests. In Burgenland, knowledge tests are taken in six levels (bronze: levels 1 and 2, silver: 3 and 4, gold: 5 and 6), while in other federal states these tests are structured in three levels (bronze, silver and gold).

The following badges can be achieved, depending on the regulations of the respective federal state:

  • Knowledge game badge bronze
  • Knowledge game badge silver
  • Knowledge test badge bronze
  • Knowledge test badge silver
  • Knowledge test badge gold

Competition game for young firefighters

All fire brigade youth members from the age of 10 up to December 31 of the year in which they reach the age of 12 (the entire year) are eligible to participate. During the entire calendar year in which the young person turns 12, he has the opportunity to take part in both the competition game and the FJLB.

International badge of achievement

  • The international competition of the International Technical Committee for Preventive Fire Protection and Fire Extinguishing ( CTIF )
consisting of a fire brigade obstacle exercise (fire fighting attack) and a sporting part (relay race) with various obstacles and tasks.

Other competitions

Youth fire brigades compete against each other in various competitions. To be mentioned here are:

Youth firefighters in Europe

The following statistics show the number and proportions of active young fire service members in a number of major European countries.

country Residents Total number of
fire fighters
Ratio of
exp. Fire fighters to
exp. Firefighters
Ratio of
adolescents to adults
GermanyGermany Germany 82,218,000 1,027,996 1.25% 996.688 249.027 24.22%
FranceFrance France 66,628,000 234,446 0.35% 193,800 27,598 11.77%
CroatiaCroatia Croatia 4,290,000 61,663 1.44% 57,138 27,000 43.79%
AustriaAustria Austria 8,773,000 258,433 2.95% 255.865 26,278 10.17%
PolandPoland Poland 38,413,000 256,480 0.67% 226.240 82,657 32.23%
RomaniaRomania Romania 20,121,000 127.291 0.63% 100,835 19,940 15.66%
RussiaRussia Russia 146,544,000 1,227,600 0.84% 956,600 262.354 21.37%
SloveniaSlovenia Slovenia 2,064,000 40,850 1.98% 40,000 40,381 98.85%
HungaryHungary Hungary 9,798,000 29,667 0.30% 19,517 2,512 8.47%
BelarusBelarus Belarus 5,474,000 17,854 0.33% 6,874 157.231 -

Status: 2017


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  • Harald Nielsen: The development of the German youth fire brigade. In: Yearbook for the Schleswigsche Geest (JbSG), No. 24, 1976, pp. 148-150.
  • Helmut Richter, Michael Jung, Wibke Riekmann, Youth Association Work in the Big City - Perspectives for Membership and Volunteering Using the Example of the Hamburg Youth Fire Brigade . 2007,
  • Fire brigade youth in Upper Austria. In: Historical series of publications of Upper Austria. State Fire Brigade Association. Issue 2/2010, ISBN 978-3-902579-09-6 .
  • Franz-Josef Sehr: Handout for the children's fire brigade (Bambini / mini fire brigade) . District Fire Brigade Association Limburg-Weilburg e. V., visit 2007.
  • Matthias van Rüschen: Die Rote Hefte, Booklet 98 - Youth fire brigade exercise according to FwDV 3 . 2nd, revised edition. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2018, ISBN 978-3-17-034883-7 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Jugendfeuerwehr  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Youth work in the fire brigade  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Austria's youth fire brigade on the website of the Austrian Federal Fire Brigade Association
  2. ^ Youth at the Regional Association of Voluntary Fire Brigades in South Tyrol, accessed on March 10, 2018
  3. ^ Franz-Josef Sehr : Development of fire protection . In: Freiwillige Feuerwehr Obertiefenbach e. V. (Ed.): 125 years of the Obertiefenbach volunteer fire brigade . Reference 2005, ISBN 978-3-926262-03-5 , pp. 114-119 .
  4. Hellmut Jessen: History - youth fire brigade Niebüll. In: December 18, 2010, accessed October 4, 2015 .
  5. ^ German youth fire brigade: History of the German youth fire brigade
  6. ^ Website of the German Youth Fire Brigade ; accessed on December 21, 2015
  7. ^ 1. FwG Baden-Württemberg ( Memento of June 27, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 98 kB); Retrieved July 2, 2012
  8. ^ History ( memento of February 26, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) on the website of the Burgenland Fire Brigade Association, accessed on April 15, 2010
  9. Nassau Fire Brigade Association e. V .: Children's groups at the volunteer fire brigades. dated May 27, 2011 (document date). Retrieved July 2, 2012.
  10. ^ Franz-Josef Sehr: Handout for the children's fire brigade (Bambini / mini fire brigade). District Fire Brigade Association Limburg-Weilburg, June 2007, accessed on April 25, 2020 .
  11. accessed on June 6, 2020
  12. ^ The professional fire brigade Vienna . ISBN 3-9501775-0-7 , p. 56 f.
  13. David Wenzel, Irmtraud Beerlage, Silke Springer: Motivation and retention in voluntary work. The importance of organizational characteristics for engagement, well-being and remaining in the volunteer fire brigade and THW (= sociological studies. Vol. 39). Centaurus, Freiburg (Breisgau) 2012, ISBN 978-3-86226-123-9 .
  14. ↑ The leadership quality acquired in the fire service helps on the job. In: Brand Aus. No. 11, 2010, ISSN  0006-9035 , pp. 8-9.
  15. Markus Henkel, Ralf Ackermann, Andreas Winter: Fire brigade training between general school and practice. New ways of recruiting forces and youth work in the area of ​​civil protection and disaster relief in the Offenbach district. In: BRANDSchutz. Deutsche Feuerwehr-Zeitung , 2/2015, pp. 25–29.
  16. The functional designations apply to both female and male fire service members. Fire brigade regulation 3 (PDF) Units in fire fighting and rescue operations, Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Aid, 2008
  17. cf. For example, the youth fire department supervisor course (State Fire Brigade School Regensburg).
  18. Art. 7 Para. 2 BayFwG Bavarian Fire Brigade Act (BayFwG) - Art. 7 Children and Youth Fire Brigade. (PDF; 75 kB) April 2019, accessed April 25, 2020 . and AVBayFwG ( Memento from November 9, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 50 kB); Retrieved July 2, 2012
  20. Implementation regulations Knowledge game of the Carinthian Fire Brigade Youth ( Memento from July 10, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF), accessed on July 10, 2016
  21. Implementation Regulations Knowledge Test - Burgenland ( Memento from July 10, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF), accessed on July 10, 2016
  22. ^ Homepage of the Schaumburg youth fire brigade
  23. World Fire Statistics Issue No. 24-2019. (PDF) Table 13: Number of young people in the fire departments of the states in 2001–2017. World Fire Brigade Association CTIF, April 18, 2019, accessed on April 10, 2020 .