I have been working as a fireman in Unterzeitlarn for ten years now and am also chairman of the association. My home is about 30 kilometres from Marklkofen and, like almost every other small place in Bavaria, we too have our own little voluntary fire brigade. At MANN+HUMMEL in Marklkofen, we are taking advantage of this. As many employees from surrounding fire brigades work on site and have completed professional firefighting training, we ask them to join the plant fire brigade too.
Plant fire brigade only has to run across the yard
When the worst happens, this saves us a good deal of time and sometimes money: If a fire broke out at MANN+HUMMEL and the fire brigade in Marklkofen were called out, the fire brigade staff who work at MANN+HUMMEL would have to go over to the voluntary fire brigade’s equipment store, get changed and then travel back to the location of the fire at the plant. With the plant fire brigade, we only have to run across the yard, meaning we get to the fire in just a few minutes. To ensure that the fire brigade is always on standby ready for action, our members are spread across all three shifts.
We have a relatively large number of industrial ovens in which filter paper is cured. Paper jams sometimes occur in these, leading to small fires, which need to be put out quickly to avoid more serious damage. That said, water damage is a far more frequent occurrence, for example when sprinklers get damaged. At the start of May this year, a sprinkler was damaged by a forklift truck, which automatically triggered the fire alarm and at the same time alerted the plant fire brigade. As the necessary information was immediately sent to our printer in the fire brigade building from the fire control centre, we knew what was wrong and could make our way there right away. After the first reconnaissance, the first brigade were radioed the task of shutting off the water pipe in the sprinkler control centre. The rapid and targeted intervention by the plant fire brigade meant that production could restart within no time at all after the water leak had been resolved.
Rapid intervention equipment
The plant fire brigade also has its own fire engine, which includes equipment such as breathing apparatus, an 800-litre water tank and a water cannon. The rapid intervention equipment makes it possible to put out small fires quickly, with no hose lines needing to be laid.
The major advantage of having your own fire brigade – aside from the rapid intervention – is the knowledge of the location that the employees have. Thanks to the many exercises carried out across all the different buildings, the fire brigade staff know the fastest way to the individual halls. Any external fire brigade would first have to find their way and would lose plenty of time as a result.
To keep the fire brigade staff up-to-date with their job knowledge and training and informed about new developments, we complete fire drills every four weeks after the early shift. For me this means that once every month my hobby becomes part of my job.
Before I became a permanent member of staff, I was an intern and student trainee in the occupational safety department, where I got the chance to gain some initial experience of not only occupational safety, but also fire protection. I found the work fascinating, so I applied for a permanent position. I soon noticed that occupational safety was very important at MANN+HUMMEL – its ‘Safety first, Quality always’ slogan is at the heart of everything, from the employees and departmental managers through to the plant management team.