Storm operations pose challenges for Austria’s fire departments

Storm operations pose challenges for Austria’s fire departments
Climate change is showing its effects, was the ÖBFV summary.

The number of missions rose to 278,495. That is around 34,000 or around 13 percent more than in 2022. As the Austrian Federal Fire Brigade Association ÖBFV reported in a broadcast on Friday, it was primarily the storm operations that jumped from 27,440 to 57,527 and have therefore more than doubled. Climate change is showing its effects, was the ÖBFV’s summary.

“Numerous regions hit particularly hard”

“Last year’s severe weather events hit numerous regions of our country particularly hard. The suffering and concern of many people is moving,” Fire Department President Robert Mayer was quoted as saying. If the forecasts were taken seriously, the challenges posed by such natural events would continue to increase. The resulting tasks for the fire brigade include pumping out work or clearing up storm damage.

  • also read: 200 missions during the night: Storms took a toll on Upper Austria’s fire brigades

Of the operations in the 2023 reporting year, 66,354 were fire operations, the remaining 212,141 were of a technical nature, including traffic accidents, storm events, floods, pollutant leaks and the like. The increase of 34,000 operations compared to 2022 is divided into 31,935 technical and 2,200 fire operations.

Special requirements

The development represents special challenges for the fire service in Austria. In order to cope with it, it requires a strong membership structure as well as additional training formats, technical and tactical innovations and sustainable financing. In any case, the number of members in Austria is developing steadily and led to another increase in members last year.

According to the statistics now available, there are currently 353,798 fire brigade members in Austria (plus 3,515 compared to 2022). While the number of active members fell slightly to 257,722 (minus 1,283), the number of youth firefighters increased by 2,527 to 36,302 girls and boys. The reserve level rose to 59,774 with 2,271 new members. Around 99 percent of fire brigade members in Austria do their service on a voluntary basis.

The proportion of women is increasing

The proportion of women is also increasing. Another 2,703 girls and women make up a total of 33,629 or 9.5 percent of the total team. According to the ÖBFV, the number is definitely still too small and can be expanded, but the number of female fire brigade members (girls and women) has increased by 170 percent since 2008.

  • more on the subject: How women conquered the fire department: “We weren’t welcome at the beginning”

“I am very pleased that our young people are growing so strongly and continuously. This means planning security, because the challenges are increasing, as are the deployments, in terms of number but also complexity. With a strong youth fire brigade we can look forward to the future with hope look,” said the fire department president.

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