The huge outpouring of offers of help following the massive floods in summer particularly moved the Altenahr district’s chief fire officer, Frank Linnarz. Vehicles, equipment, material – everything the fire brigade can now use was brought to the Ahr valley by companies, private individuals or fire brigades from all over Germany. The fire brigade there, like countless other people and businesses, had suffered severe damages during the massive floods in summer. Reconstruction is underway with all kinds of support coming in. The largest donation in terms of square metres comes from Dresden: the mobile, frost-proof Herchenbach building measures 20 by 30 m. Even though FSD Fahrzeugsystemdaten GmbH is already financing the building, the FSD employees will do without it for the time being. The fire brigade can use the building until their new one is completed. Then it will be dismantled and set up again in Dresden. In Altenahr, the mobile building was erected in a few days in November, just in time before the first overnight frosts.
FSD Fahrzeugsystemdaten GmbH from Dresden does not actually have much to do with fire brigades. It develops high-quality test equipment for inspecting vehicles for defects and wear. This makes road traffic safer. "As a company, but also as private individuals, we have many acquaintances and partners in the Ahr valley," says Managing Director Jürgen Bönninger. "Our staff were all very concerned and so we wrote to those acquaintances and partners to ask: Where can we help?" Some thinking by the company led to the crucial spark of inspiration: FSD wanted to construct a building where vehicles would be prepared for inspection. Fahrzeugsystemdaten GmbH had already planned it with another company. "Then we wondered if we could make our building available to the fire brigade in the Ahr valley for a while," Bönninger reports. "With Herchenbach, we found a company that could not only deliver and erect the temporary building very quickly, but also simply move it to the new location after two years – their competitor could not offer that."
Our staff were all very concerned and so we wrote to those acquaintances and partners to ask: Where can we help?
The building was planned for the Dresden site. "But our employees have decided to do without their building for another two years for the people in the Ahr valley," says Bönninger. According to experts, it will take at least that long before the Altenahr fire brigade can use its own building. Until then, the FSD employees will work outside as before, and the company will finance the building for the fire brigade during this time. But that is not all: the employees have also given a considerable part of their income to help the flood victims. "It was important to us to act on this," says Bönninger "But everyone we met in the Ahr valley was really committed too."
For the fire brigade in Altenahr, which is responsible for the entire municipality, the mobile building is a lifesaver. The fire engines are always loaded with water ready for use, which must not freeze, and the turntable ladder is equipped with temperature-sensitive sensor technology: If temperatures drop below zero, the fire brigade is in danger of losing vehicles again. Vehicles worth €1.3 million were destroyed at the Altenahr fire brigade alone during the flood disaster in summer. "Now the vehicles are dry and frost-proof," emphasises fire chief Linnarz and explains: "What impressed us about the building was that its walls are made of sandwich panels, which have very good heat transfer values." For the firefighters, this is one reason not to worry about winter temperatures any more.
The mobile lightweight building was set up in the Martinshütte car park on the main road, easily accessible for the firefighters. But before the substrate could be prepared, the site had to be cleared. The floods had left behind bulky waste as high as the building is now. Then the ground was prepared. There was no need to pour a foundation, as the building is anchored with ground spikes. The actual construction was completed within a few days. "It all happened very quickly," says Linnarz. The building is equipped with six rolling doors and offers enough space for the vehicles. "The building is even higher than the one at our old site," explains the fire chief. This way, the turntable ladder truck that the fire brigade has now can also be safely accommodated. Containers are planned for social rooms, storage and breathing apparatus training.
The fire brigade doesn’t just have a building for the interim period. "We can now also test whether the new location is suitable," explains Linnarz. Because the building is stable and frost-proof, but still mobile, the firefighters can monitor arrival and deployment times without being tied to the site by a fixed building. While everyone helps with the clean-up and reconstruction work in the town, the Altenahr fire brigade is also starting to consider where their new building should be built. The mobile building’s location, situated above the village on a hill, already offers a crucial advantage for the fire chief: the site is flood-proof.