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Story 024 – 1898 – People Service Sustainability

The Birth of the Vöhringen Plant Fire Brigade

The "Voluntary Factory Fire Brigade" was founded in 1898.

The Vöhringen Plant Fire Brigade, founded in 1898, took its mission extremely seriously from the very beginning. There are statutes, defined procedures and good material resources. With the "Voluntary Factory Fire Brigade" the foundation was laid for the Plant Fire Brigade which still exists today.

The suggestion to found a plant fire brigade, however, goes back to the authorities. At the "request of the Royal District Authority of Illertissen", the "Voluntary Factory Fire Brigade Wieland & Cie." was founded on 10 September 1898. Statutes were issued for this purpose, which precisely regulated numerous aspects in nine paragraphs.

Very important - and meaningful for the future - was already paragraph 1, which stated that the factory fire brigade "will support the relevant fire services in Vöhringen or in neighbouring towns in the event of fires upon request at any time". Another, somewhat contradictory, passage stated that all employees and workers from the age of 18 to 50 were "obliged to join the fire service". This regulation does not fit with the word "voluntarily" in the deed of incorporation, which is why the voluntariness would no longer found in any later documents.

This also was not mentioned in the statutes, which were published in print in the year of incorporation. From the booklet it can be seen that the factory fire brigade was 141 men strong and comprised of eight crews: from "staff" to "climber and hose layer", "fire extinguisher team", "hydrant team" and several "pump teams" up to a "guard team". As an attachment to the statutes, Wieland sent the district authority a detailed list of materials in which the complete equipment for each crew was listed separately. It ranged from the "grey jacket" or the "shrill pipe with cord" to mobile mechanical ladders, a likewise mobile "fire extinguisher with 100 m hemp hose" and metal buckets to fetch water with.

The instructions for "service at the scene of a fire" were strict:, the equipment should not be used without a superior being present, and orders could only be given by superiors". The clear instruction: "In case of fire and drill the greatest calm must reign" also fits in the period and with the belief in authority.

Anyone who did not appear for a fire or an exercise "without a justified excuse" – had to expect severe penalties, and in the event of a repeat offence the "complete dismissal from the factory". This is a clear indication of how seriously the issue of fire protection was already being taken at that time.

Five years after its foundation, updated statutes were printed in 1903: the "Factory Fire Brigade" now comprised of 159 men, and men were obliged to serve until the age of 55.

No fire without a report: This one from the year 1912 documents one of the first operations of the Wieland fire brigade outside the plant – a sawmill fire in Senden.