Adequate fire and rescue services on the agenda of Ukrainian amalgamated communities (German experience)


At the end of January 2017, the Government of Ukraine approved a Strategy of Reforming State Emergency Service of Ukraine aimed to ensure the sufficient level of security of the population and protection of territories from emergencies in peacetime and during contingency situations. The document regulates the number of fire rescue stations of local and voluntary fire services in the amalgamated communities, number of staff and locations with account of standard response time to fire alarm (10 minutes in a city and 20 minutes in rural areas). Significantly, the Strategy comprises the tasks of the Reform of Local Self-Government, namely the improvement of service quality and bringing services closer to citizens. Capable communities – those ones, which exercised their constitutional right to voluntary amalgamation – now have real capacities to solve local problems including fire safety issues (…)

In autumn 2016, Bilotserkivka and Shyshaky amalgamated territorial communities in Poltava Oblast started the implementation of pilot projects on setting-up modern fire rescue units funded from local budgets. Essentially, it means getting to a whole new level of civil protection, fire safety and coherent safety of community residents.

Then the representatives of the above-mentioned amalgamated communities participated in the study tour to Germany on the issues of reorganisation of local fire services based on inter-municipal cooperation approach. The study visit took place within the framework of the Reform of Municipal Services in Eastern Ukraine Project implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Preconditions and integration of local fire rescue units through the example of Staufenberg local fire rescue station

The town of Staufenberg was founded 42 years ago, and its current population is 8.5 thousand. There were three fire rescue units in Staufenberg 15 years ago, and all they were in need of renovating and refurbishment requiring significant financial expenses. In this context, the local community decided not to renovate the deteriorated premises, but to integrate 3 fire rescue units into one, thus having reduced the expenditures on its maintenance and having received a subsidy from the federal state (administrative division in Germany) for building a new special-purpose premises for the integrated fire rescue station. In order to receive a subsidy from the federal state, it was necessary to prove the efficiency of such a decision and show that the measures suggested would result in cost saving. It was also necessary to allocate a substantial co-financing input from the local budget (50%).

To mobilize the required funds, a decision was taken to sell three previous premises of fire rescue units and use the funds obtained for the construction of new premises in the centre of the town. The federal state supported this idea and co-financed the construction. The special transport vehicles and relevant firefighting equipment have been handed over to the integrated fire rescue station.

Activities of the integrated fire rescue station

In the case of an emergency, the services are provided by volunteer fire brigades, formed in communities with the population up to 100 thousand. Fundamental philosophy behind this civic consciousness is to provide mutual support to those who urgently need it, because one day it may become necessary for anyone.

Regular practical trainings are delivered to volunteer firefighters. Besides, basic trainings are delivered to children starting with 6-year age.

After completing relevant trainings and receiving a placement in the staff of a permanent volunteer fire brigade, each volunteer firefighter receives special radios (so-called pagers) for immediate notification in case of emergencies. Upon receipt of the emergency alarm, volunteers have to arrive at the station within 4 minutes (fire rescue station is located in the centre of the town), and the first fire truck must arrive on the scene within 10 minutes after the emergency notification.

Municipality staff is involved into the work of such fire brigades. Concerning other volunteer firefighters employed in private companies, a mayor of the town negotiates with the company management on reimbursement of costs from the local budget to compensate the fire response time. Usually the companies are not willing to accept the reimbursement.

Additionally, smaller municipalities, where the services are provided by volunteer fire brigades only, and professional emergency services are not available, can apply to other municipalities for help whenever necessary depending on the type of emergency (e.g. one service specializes on dealing with floods, another on antichemical protection etc.)

According to the mayor of the town, the maintenance of special vehicle is the most financially demanding area of expenditures, as annually it requires nearly EUR 160,000.


Germany is a federal republic consisting of 16 federal states and 3 city-states (German: Land or Länder and Stadtstaaten accordingly). All German federal lands are entitled to adopt their own local laws, nevertheless some strategically important topics and laws are the exclusive responsibility of the Federal Government. Remarkably, three federal states, Bavaria, Saxony and Thuringia call themselves Freistaaten (Free States) being the member federal states of Germany.

A repair shop for breather masks maintenance for 25 communities in Wetterau District. Motivation and the process of inter-municipal cooperation. Experience gained and ensuring efficient equipment operation (the town of Bad Nauheim)

Having concluded an inter-municipal cooperation agreement, 25 communities consolidated their resources and funds to provide non-stop work of the integrated repair shop dealing with breather masks maintenance.

As the relevant equipment is quite expensive, a community alone cannot afford to keep a repair shop. Besides, only qualified staff can perform the works on breather masks maintenance.

Inter-municipal cooperation approach enabled the communities to save costs for purchasing the breathing masks (wholesale price is cheaper) and their quarterly maintenance.

The training facilities are available at the mentioned above fire rescue station allowing deliver live fire trainings. Besides, a special classroom is equipped for trainings for children.

Emergency Prevention Centre and integrated dispatch service in Gelnhausen

As the Centre is covering a large area with more than 400 thousand residents, it provides diversified scope of assistance and rescue services.

In Main-Kinzig District, an integrated Centre delivers a wide range of emergency response services:

  • up to 40 multi-purpose vehicles;
  • 5 emergency medical systems;
  • 147 fire brigades;
  • 5 local integrated emergency recovery services;
  • 3 water rescue units;
  • first aid services;
  • water rescue service;
  • local doctors;
  • rescue dog service;
  • numerous divisions of the Red Cross, Maltese Relief Service, Samaritan volunteer units, Order of St. Johann
  • the Red Cross Call Centre in the town of Hanau;
  • rescue divers;
  • guide assistance to accident victims.

The Emergency Prevention Centre includes integrated dispatch service, ambulance service, labour safety, training delivery and upskilling, health and safety promotion, fire prevention service and fire safety control.

The integrated dispatch service receives calls in case of seeking immediate medical or social assistance as well as in a case of an emergency.


Gelnhausen is a town and the capital of the most densely populated and the fourth-largest district in the federal state of Hesse. Main-Kinzig District: 1400 square kilometres, 29 towns and communities, 407 619 residents.


The Reform of Municipal Services in Eastern Ukraine Project

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