Updated by CHARLES BANFI
After 18 months of long distance calls, emails, PowerPoint slide presentations and meetings a Partnership now exists between the Wallau Volunteer Fire Company in Germany and the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company of Maryland. I believe this partnership will benefit both organizations and will establish a bond between firefighters that extends across the “pond”.
There is much we can learn from each other as we progress in this effort.
The more familiar we become with each other the more we will come to realize that we have more in common than not. In order for this project to work, we need to establish communications with each other and learn about each other. Yes the language difference will be a challenge but it is not insurmountable for those that are willing to take a risk and try new things.
The beauty of this partnership is that we can make it into whatever we want. Ultimately, I would like to see crews from both companies visit each other to train and learn see how the other side lives and works. Some may say that is a bridge to far but I say it can be done if both sides want it to happen.
I intend to use this site to share information with you on what your brothers and sister firefighters in Germany are doing and experiencing. By doing this, we will come to understand that we have more in common then not and share many of the same hardships and successes.
You Can View the Following Document:
Recent Galleries & Updates
Click on any photo to open individual full screen galleries
Christmas Tree Collection (January 12, 2019)
On Saturday, 12 Jan 19, the Jugendfeuerwehr Wallau (Cadet Firefighters), who are in the 10-17 age group, went around town collecting Christmas trees for recycle under the watchful eyes of their firefighter trainers/mentors. As you can see by the attached pictures, the tree collection was a success. Besides helping Wallau’s recycle program and providing food for the elephants at the Opel Zoo, this is a major Jugendfeuerwehr fund raiser for the kids. The Jugendfeuerwehr use this money throughout the year to attend summer camp and go to amusement parks for some R&R. The WVFC has an excellent cadet program that starts at age six and goes up to 17. The Kinderfeuerwehr Wallau (six to 10) are the younger cadets and feed the Jungenfeuerwehr program. If you could meet these young people you would be impressed as I am.
Information provided by the Jugendfeuerwehr Trainers/Counselors
Rhine River Swim (December 31. 2018)
On the last day of 2018, the Wallau Feuerwehr Brigade participated in a Rhine River swim sponsored by the city of Mainz Fire Department (Paid) for local charities. The swim is similar to the Maryland State Police sponsored Polar Bear Plunge charity event however, the Mainz swim starts at 0930 and ends at 1200 or when the last swimmer reaches the shore. Yup, you heard me correctly. All swimmers are “dropped off” in the middle of the river by a Mainz fireboat and then must swim the 2 kilometers to shore. This is the 19th year that the WFB has participated in this charity swim. All indications are that it is a lot of fun and a major fund raiser for local charities. Please view the attached pictures for more information.
Information Source: Firefighter Tine Mi
Corner Stone Laying Ceremony for the Wallau Fire House with Time Capsule (August 21. 2018)
After 41 years, the male and female fire fighters of the Volunteer Fire Department, will receive a modern facility with vehicle bays for their community service. On Friday 17th August, the red foundation stone was placed over the recess chamber with time capsule. The ceremony was observed by many community members and dignitaries. The chief of the Hessian State Chancellery, Mr. Axel Wintermeyer, was the senior public official at the ceremony.
Wallau´s Fire Department is getting a new home at the same location as the old fire house built in 1977. On Friday, 17 August 2018, the foundation stone laying was celebrated with a topping-out ceremony at the building shell on the property at Steingasse in Wallau. All building construction should be completed by February 2019. The two month delay was attributed to an extensive tear down and the construction of an underground supporting wall. Negotiations with Architects, Planners and the Fire Department are ongoing to complete the last open biddings.
Unexpected Additional Costs
The 2.2 Million Euro construction will fulfill all requirements of a modern Fire house and green energy standards. A 400,000 Euro cost increase was due to the building demolition and securing the street with a supporting wall. The State of Hessen subsidized the project with 157,000 Euro through an investment program for facilitation of Fire Protection. Additional 68,450 Euro were provided by the governmental Credit Institution for Reconstruction (KfW) on a special interest rate.
Optimal Space Planning
The new Fire House will look like a typical Fire House, in contrast to its predecessor, and will consist of two main portions: The three story Administrative part, erected in solid construction, connects to the light steel constructed vehicle bays. Attached to this is the Training Tower, which is built as a separate wall and will be connected to the remainder by grid plates. The administrative building will house the male and female locker rooms with showers and rest rooms on the ground floor which is on the same level as the vehicle bay. Focusing the “black and white” separation in terms of clean and dirty areas as of the typical work sequences of emergency responses. Additionally, the ground floor will have storage and work areas built adjacent to the vehicle bay.
Mr. Axel Wintermeyer commented on the importance of the Wallau Volunteer Fire Company to the community. Not only is their work a substantial relief for the tax payers but the members provide a valuable service for the community youth.
Extra Office Space for Youth Programs
The Juvenile and Cadet Corps will have separate locker rooms and showers, as well as an assembly room. This room will also have plenty of natural lighting based on the architectural design. Additional storage space completes the basement area. The upper floor will house the offices of the Fire Chief and the Youth Group Leader, restrooms and a kitchen. A training and conference room can be individually separated by a movable wall which completes the upper floor. Opposite the new facility at the edge of the fairground are seven parking spaces for fire fighters responding to calls.
Energy wise, the new fire house will be state of the art. The vehicle bay with a maximum temperature of 12˚C (53 F), is considered “unheated” and is not considered for the energetic evaluation in terms of the subsidizing request. For the main building an electric heat pump will provide the necessary heating. Radiators and radiation panels will heat the rooms. A Photovoltaic system on the roof of the vehicle garage will support this system. The facility will be insulated and sealed and meet KfW standard 55, which provides approx. 45 percentile energy savings versus the law required standard which enables the subsidizing of this project by the KfW. The entire lighting system will be installed as energy saving LED system.
Old Fire Station was Inadequate
The new construction became necessary, as the old building became inefficient and did not support the needs of a modern fire company. The vehicle bays and doors were too small to accommodate modern firefighting apparatus. The old station lacked male and female locker rooms, safe escape and traffic routes and adequate vehicle housing. Additionally, the findings of the Darmstadt Regional Council Technical Survey noted the advanced age of the building equipment. After balancing the restoration cost versus new construction, and realization that even a restoration would not solve all issues, the Member Council of the Municipal Councilor decided to construct a new fire station in December 2015.
The new construction was erected on the old location on the property Steingasse 3. The estate was in conjunction with the neighborhood estate owners, optimized and a bit more compact in its dimensions, therefore better to serve the needs of a modern fire house .
Firm Meinhardt Provides Needed Assistance
Firm Meinhardt provided a temporary fire station for the Wallau Fire Department at the nearby Wallau industrial park during the construction. The firm cleared out a hall and installed the needed infrastructure. This enabled the Fire Department to have power, telephone and compressed air supply for the vehicles in the temporary housing.
Fully Functional Temporary Station
The provided hall offers space for the engine and squad plus a van utility vehicle. A sanitary room, space for lockers and gear rack is available. In case of an alarm, the lead Foreman of the paint shop and the Security staff are notified to ensure an unimpeded exit which works really well. Wallau´s Mayor, Ms. Gisela Stang, expressed her gratitude and thanks to Meinhardt for their support.
Photography: Petra Schumann
Article: Von Wiesbadenaktuell
Translation: Fire Chief Daniel Corzelius, USAG Wiesbaden Fire Department and Mr. Chuck Banfi, USAG Wiesbaden S3/5/7
Rescue Drill (June 26. 2018)
The Wallau Fire Company conducted a rescue drill at a local construction site near our house.
Equipment: Squad, Rescue Tools, Air Bags, Cribbing Material and other items.
Personnel: 1 Gruppe of 9 Firefighters under the direction of Chief Sven Diels and LT Armin Hilzinger.
Scenario: A rescue call came in for a construction worker trapped under a dumpster
New Wallau Fire House (June 25, 2018)
Sorry this is late, but things have been rather hectic here lately. Lots going on with the local threat, inspections, and new commanders.
The new Wallau Fire House is rising up from the ground and looking pretty good. I have been watching the building technique and find it really interesting.
Take care all. 100 degree heat here with no AC!
A Trip to Bremen (June 25, 2018)
All is not work here in Germany, although it doesn’t seem like it. We recently went to Bremen in Northern Germany which was very near to my first duty station some 30+ years ago. Bremen hasn’t changed much (thankfully) and is a very beautiful city with a lot to see.
Bremen is very much a maritime city with a lot of history and friendly people. The architecture resembles Holland and Belgium more so than southern Germany.
Bremen is a great place to go to kick back, sight seeing, and plain old relaxation. It is about a five hour drive from Wallau.
Rescue Training (May 15, 2018)
On May 15th, the Wallau Feuer Gesellschaft (Fire Company) conducted rescue training under the watchful eye of Leutnant (Lieutenant) Armin Hilzinger.
The equipment involved included 1 Engine, 1 Rescue, and 1 Utility.
There were 15 firefighters that participated.
Mission: Responding Wallau units arrive at the scene of a structure fire, determine accountability from facility representative, and execute a rescue of an injured employee trapped on the 2nd floor. Additionally, the first due Ladder truck from the city of Hofheim was involved in a traffic accident and will not arrive. Second due is enroute with an ETA of 20 minutes. On-scene units must use organic equipment to effect the rescue and suppress the fire.
Synopsis: Upon arrival, each Gruppe (Engine Crew) receives instruction from their Gruppeen Furhrer (Officers) on the plan of attck. First arriving Gruppe was assigned the rescue mission. Second arriving Gruppe established water flow, stretched lines, and commenced to extinguish the fire (simulated). Without the ladder truck, the rescue Gruppe would have to utilize their available resources to execute the rescue. They quickly assembled ladder sections, demonstrated effective ladder and rope skills and utilized a basket to lower the patient to safety. Meanwhile, the suppression team did their job and put the fire out.
The Big Dig (April 26, 2018)
The following pictures document the construction of the new Wallau fire station. The demolition took about a week and a half and now the contractors are all set to begin construction. The fire company is operating out of their temporary station in a nearby industrial park. I will keep you posted on the construction process and future training events. Hope everyone is doing well! Stay safe!
Wallau Volunteer Fire Company Former Home Demolished (April 3, 2018)
The former home of the Wallau Volunteer Fire Company was demolished. All that is left of the former structure is a big hole in the ground with a fence around it and construction buildings. The company expects the new building to be complete within the year but one never knows about construction delays. The new building will be larger than the old building with female/male locker rooms, larger truck bays, basement and two floors about the bay. Everyone is looking forward to moving out of the temporary quarters into the new station. I am sure the grand opening will be a huge event. Hopefully, representatives from the BAVFC will be able to attend the grand occasion.
Major Building Fire in the Hofheim-Wallau District (March 16th, 2018)
The Wallau Volunteer Fire Company responded to a major building fire in Hofheim-Wallau district. The fire location was between Wallau and a nearby town called Massenheim. The building was a wood/carpenter shop thereby guaranteeing a ready fuel source. Over 150 firefighters from around the Hofheim and Wiesbaden area responded to the scene. Responding units immediately encountered a water supply problem in this rural location. Fire command requested additional units from the surrounding area who responded with engines, tankers, and trucks. Firefighters could not save the carpentry shop but were able to save the home. No injuries were reported. See attached pictures.
Showing BAVFC Pride
The department’s top 2017 responders in turnout gear and wearing BAVFC shirts which were their Christmas gifts. The pictures were taken inside the old fire station alongside one of their engines. Note: The current fire station is awaiting demolition and then construction of their new station on the same spot. They are a great bunch of dedicated Volunteers who face similar issues as us (work, family, bills, training, recruitment/retention, etc.)
BAVFC Meeting Night – Pictures of Wallau’s Partnership Memo and Gifts
Annual Summer Fest
These pictures are of the Wallau Feuerwehr’s Annual Summer Fest which is their major fund raiser for the year. The event is held in front of the fire station and attracts a pretty good crowd. They sell food and beverages (beer, wine, apple wine and soft drinks).