Fire departments from Bonn, Düsseldorf, Leverkusen, Königswinter and Ratingen have been on the road since 3:30 a.m. Thursday night with their specialized joint unit to support the emergency forces in the forest fires in southwestern France. They are accompanied by other firefighters from Lower Saxony, specialist advisors from the aid organization @fire and a supply unit from Johanniter-Unfallhilfe.
The French authorities had sent a request for assistance through the European Union on Tuesday. On the part of the Federal Republic of Germany, the assistance of the forest fire module notified by the State of North Rhine-Westphalia within the framework of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism was offered. After the fire departments received the concrete request on Thursday evening, the necessary planning for this complex and unusual operation began immediately. The convoy, consisting of 65 forces, 20 vehicles and 4 trailers, is divided into full-time and volunteer firefighters and aid workers from Johanniter Unfallhilfe, as well as expert advisors from the non-governmental aid organization @fire, which specializes in support during natural disasters. This is the second deployment of the module notified in the European Civil Protection Mechanism since 2019. In August 2021, the unit was already deployed in support at the Peleponnes in Greece.
Forces are expected to arrive Thursday evening in the greater Bordeaux area in southwestern France. When and what specific mission awaits the forces will probably be clarified by the time the forces arrive in France.
The European Civil Protection Mechanism provides for so-called forest fire modules for such major fires, which can be requested at short notice and well prepared within the European Union. Such a module consists of several all-terrain fire-fighting vehicles, a command unit and a supply unit. Following coordination discussions with the Ministry of the Interior of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Cologne District Government, which were involved as supervisory authorities, the forest fire module was launched in 2019. The unit represents a pilot project in which the experience already gained with the modules in other EU countries is applied to fire departments in Germany.