Oberberg this is how the youth fire departments are fighting against recruitment problems during the pandemic

The second service of the year was completed by the approximately 100 members of the Reichshof youth fire department on their sofa at home in front of their computer screens. "We learned what you have to be able to do for the Jugendflamme badge", Fynn from Bruchermuhle reports.

"Running, connecting pipes and rolling out hoses," adds his friend Mikael. The two ten-year-olds are eager to get started – even if they’d rather meet up with their comrades "for real". But at the beginning of January, community fire chief Christoph Dick has suspended all events of the children and youth fire department in Presence until further notice.

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"The fire department is part of the critical infrastructure. There we must do everything, in order to remain operational in view of the Omikron wave and rising numbers of cases , justify the Wehrchef the decision. "When 20 children come to the appliance room, the danger of infection is too great for me. And outside in the open air can hardly do anything in the weather."This was very difficult for him, he admits, and he would like to ease up again as soon as possible.

Things don’t look any better for other children’s and youth fire departments in the district. Thus in Bergneustadt the practical services were already stopped in November, in Engelskirchen in December. Only the Christmas tree collection event took place in Bergneustadt and Engelskirchen – an exception, with tested young people in small groups.

Firefighting experiments in front of the camera

As in Reichshof, the Bergneustadt members of the youth fire department also sit in front of their screens in the evenings and learn everything about accident prevention, for example, via online conference. "We also built in riddles and a search picture," says Bergneustadt city youth and children’s firefighter Jan Rothkamm. "Of course it’s better to practice in the real world, but homeschooling means everyone already knows the technology."

Even at the screen, the two ten-year-olds are always hard at work

The two ten-year-olds are also always diligent on the screen.

Already in the lockdown, youth leaders had developed a lot of original ideas, on the topic of "chemical hazards", for example, conducted experiments themselves in front of the camera, reports the deputy municipal youth officer Florian Engel from Reichshof. "It would be nice if we had uniform material available for the presentation. But we also manage to prepare everything ourselves."

Jan Rothkamm is satisfied that 90 percent of the boys and girls from his town took part. "It was fun for everyone," he says happily. This is important to keep everyone on their toes. Because the ups and downs of Corona waves and Corona regulations mean that there is a gradual lack of new blood. "We’ve had a lot of youth fire department members leave for active duty," Engel notes. "We can’t advertise like we do in normal times. Fortunately, the project week in the schools after the summer vacations could take place normally. This has brought us 27 new members."

Even more difficult for children than for young people

In Bergneustadt there was in the autumn for the youth fire-brigade a Sweatshirt and as Weihnachtsgeschenk a Thermotrinkbecher.

For the child fire departments the situation is still more difficult than for the youth fire departments, here at present in angel churches, real yard and Bergneustadt nothing at all takes place. "We tried it last year with painting activities and questionnaires online. But then that was apparently too much for the kids in addition to homeschooling. And perhaps also the parents, who were partly already stressed in the home office", reports Engel. "The children don’t want to have the hose explained to them, they want to use it to spray on the water wall."

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For the young people, he has planned the online services until March, possibly already with the theoretical preparation for the Leistungsspange. In April, he hopes, it can then start again with the practical services. In Engelskirchen, where all services are currently suspended, Fire Chief Thomas Krimmel hopes to start again with the young people in February. "All supervisors are booted, and the youngsters come freshly tested from school."

Jan Rothkamm from Bergneustadt has the March in the view and wishes itself to go soon again with actions into the schools and kindergartens, so that again more children and young people get fun at the fire-brigade. Florian Engel has set out to show: "Hey, guys, the children’s and youth fire department is still there!"

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