On Thursday evening, August 18, 2022, the 65 forces of the forest fire unit and their 20 vehicles returned from their mission in southwestern France exhausted but healthy.
“The operation was very exhausting, but also very successful, and the most important thing is that all the emergency personnel are back safe and sound,” said Jochen Stein, head of the fire and rescue service of the city of Bonn, which coordinated the unit’s operation.
The helpers from the fire departments of Bonn, Düsseldorf, Königswinter, Leverkusen, Ratingen, forces from Lower Saxony, expert advisors from the aid organizations “@fire” and a supply unit of the Johanniter had started on their mission south of Bordeaux in the night of August 11. On site, the task was to prevent the flames from spreading in an extensive forest fire after briefing by local authorities in high outside temperatures. In particular, fire nests were extinguished in impassable terrain, buildings were protected and firebreaks were created. A change in weather, with precipitation and lower temperatures, now allowed the unit to return from deployment slightly earlier than originally planned.
The German forces on the ground in France were highly appreciated for their help by the local authorities as well as the population. With the sweaty work, the firefighters were able to make an important contribution to the containment of the large forest fire, in addition to other help from other European countries. The experience gained, which is also passed on to the other emergency services at the locations, also creates direct added value for the fire departments.
To date, the only German unit for ground-based Vegetationsbrandbekämpfung involving Vegetationsbrandbekämpfung vehicles (officially: Ground Forest Fire Vegetationsbrandbekämpfung using Vehicles, GFFF-V) registered in the European Civil Protection Mechanism was set up to support local emergency forces in the event of large vegetation fires. After the formation of the unit in 2019, it was now the second mission for the specially trained forces in France, following assistance with vegetation fires in the Peleponnes in August 2021. The module was trained in cooperation with @fire and the Federal Academy for Civil Protection and Civil Defense (BABZ) of the Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK).