Photo by ÖBFV/Mathias Seyfert
24 May 2024

Austrian Federal Fire Brigade Association: Operational fire brigades are an important support for industries


500 people attended the third specialized conference of Austrian operational fire brigades with a specialist exhibition in Bergheim near Salzburg. Over two days, essential innovations, innovations, and future challenges regarding operational fire protection were discussed.


Photo Credit: ÖBFV: Mathias Seyfert


Every four years, the Specialist Committee of the Operational Fire Brigades of the Austrian Federal Fire Brigade Association (ÖBFV) invites operational fire brigade members to the conference to provide them with current developments as part of further education and to promote networking. Additionally, a specialist exhibition with over 50 companies takes place during this conference. Due to the pandemic, the interval was extended by three years this time – the last conference took place in 2017.

Thomas Docekal, Chairman of the Austrian operational fire brigades, stated: "I see the conference as an important component in the training of our members in preventive and defensive fire protection. It offers us the opportunity to look beyond the borders of our own federal state and to strengthen our network. Additionally, we have many exhibitors presenting their equipment and services. The result was an exchange of thoughts and knowledge among Austrian operational fire brigades because it is important to learn from each other and think of new ways – thereby ensuring fire protection and hazard prevention in companies."


Why are operational fire brigades needed?

Fire Brigade President Robert Mayer commented: "Defensive fire protection cannot compensate for preventive fire protection. Therefore, operational fire brigades play a central role in the safety of a company or institution. The conference provided a perfect framework for further education, exchange, and knowledge transfer. The high interest in the conference clearly shows that it is important to organize and hold an event in this format. As ÖBFV, it is important and significant to engage in this area. I sincerely thank all participants for their dedication."

During a panel discussion, the opportunities of operational fire brigades for companies – also as an economic factor – were discussed. Docekal added: "Depending on the economic situation, operational fire brigades are often a topic of discussion in executive suites. It is necessary to constantly make persuasive arguments. If a company has ever needed its own fire brigade, there is significantly more acceptance."


Motivating management

"We have received feedback from several companies that the operational fire brigade is an important support in the company because it ensures safety. Operational fire brigade members perceive the company differently. They are there when others seek safety. It's like a first responder after a medical emergency – fire brigade members are first responders to fires and technical malfunctions. They are familiar with the area, can intervene quickly, understand the priorities of the companies, and are in close coordination with management. All advantages that prevent many damages and can minimize damages in case of an emergency," said Thomas Docekal, who, together with his committee, works to motivate more companies to establish operational fire brigades.


Background information

In Austria, there are 313 operational fire brigades. These are facilities of companies (industrial plants, hospitals, airports, shopping centers, correctional facilities, etc.) and mainly deal with preventive measures to protect the premises, employees, customers, as well as to secure production and the operating location, for example. In many cases, an operational fire brigade is prescribed by the authorities, but there is also the possibility for a company to establish an operational fire brigade voluntarily. There are various types of members – from full-time staff to mixed forms to purely voluntary women and men. By establishing an operational fire brigade, they are represented by the respective regional fire brigade association, and the members receive training as specified.


Photos (attached and more via the link) can be used free of charge in connection with reporting on this event when the source is correctly cited ("ÖBFV/Mathias Seyfert"):


Image caption (2024_BtF Fachtagung_02.jpg): The opening was carried out by LAbg. Karl Zallinger and Salzburg Mayor Bernhard Auinger together with Fire Brigade President Robert Mayer and Operational Fire Brigade Chairman Thomas Docekal. Balthasar Gwechenberger, Vice President Global Service Palfinger Austria, was awarded the ÖBFV Silver Merit Badge for his long-standing commitment to the Austrian fire service. (from left to right: Zallinger, Mayer, Gwechenberger, Docekal, Auinger)

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