Stuttgart fire service ready to tackle narrow roads and open spaces with two new Unimog.
Flexible in tight spaces, unstoppable off-road: Stuttgart fire service is increasing its vehicle fleet's deployment range – along narrow service roads in the city centre as well as in the event of forest fires and other emergency situations in the region surrounding the Swabian city – with two new equipment vehicles: one Unimog U 5023 and one Unimog U 323.
A team of flame hunters.
600 officers at five stations, 1,200 emergency services staff at 24 voluntary fire service departments. Stuttgart fire service is by far the largest of its kind throughout the German federal state of Baden-Württemberg. And the service keeps growing: the federal state capital's fire department has been upgrading its equipment since 2022. For so-called special off-road deployment situations. And that’s Unimog territory.
This includes fire-fighting and support in fields and forests, but also in Württemberg's vineyards which are spread across the steep hills in the eastern parts of the city. Voluntary fire service departments can already rely on two TLF-W (pump water tenders for forest fire fighting and flood rescue operations) and one all-wheel-drive command and control centre vehicle (ELW). Two dedicated off-road control centre and exploration vehicles will follow in 2024.
But flames are best fought as a team. And the two Unimog complete this team: a compact RW-K equipment vehicle based on the Unimog U 323, measuring a mere 2,200 mm in width, and one RW-HG highly off-road capable equipment vehicle based on the Unimog U 5023.
Normal VEHICLES ARE DESIGNED FOR 'NORMAL' SITUATIONS. BUT WE DO NOT ALWAYS FACE 'NORMAL' SITUATIONS.
Christian Schwarze, Head of Stuttgart Fire Service
Every Unimog is exactly where it belongs.
The two new additions to Stuttgart's fleet, each with 231 hp (170 kW), were designed in cooperation with body manufacturer Schlingmann, configured so they can form a tactical unit together with the two existing pump water tenders (Unimog U 1250 L models). According to a statement from Stuttgart's fire department, this is a unique feature in Germany.
The narrow RW-K is based at the voluntary fire service station in Uhlbach, a location where fire fighters often navigate very narrow and steep paths surrounding allotments and vineyards. The RW-HG, however, is based in Degerloch – an area south of the river Neckar, dominated by extensive woodlands which, at least compared with the region around Stuttgart, faces significantly tougher weather conditions than the rest of Stuttgart’s urban areas.
The new generation: even better equipped.
The vehicles in the fleet before the new Unimog was procured were also Unimog – namely the U 1300 L model series. The two old vehicles have performed well in the fire service. They were in use for more than 40 years. There is one simple reason for replacing them now: in the case of the RW-K, the new vehicle generation is not only narrower, but can simply do even more.
The high level of heat shielding installed in the two Unimog vehicles ex works makes the fire service more resilient in operation, while the TireControl plus tire pressure control system gives crews more control. In addition, the RW-HG offers greater maneuverability in flooded terrain and a fording capability of up to 1.2 m, which gives the emergency services more freedom when tackling situations involving water. After all, the extreme off-road Unimog must be able to follow the TLF-W without any issues, even in floods. And this is not necessarily only the case within Stuttgart's city limits, because, from time to time, the fire service provides support beyond regional and national borders – from the Ahr valley to Greece.
Do you want to learn more about the extreme off-road Unimog?
“Our vehicles are designed for 'normal' things. But we don't always face normal situations,” says Christian Schwarze, Head of Stuttgart Fire Service. Some of you may ask “what kind of major emergencies can happen in vineyards?” Well, Christian Schwarze doesn't really have to think about a reply – he has witnessed enough emergency situations first hand.
An inline skater wearing headphones, unaware of the tractor powering over the crest of the vineyard at quite some speed. A tractor overturning on an incline, rolling over several times. A worker getting caught in a harvester. “These things don't really happen,” says Christian Schwarze. “But we have the fire service because you never really know what can happen.”
And this is exactly where the new equipment vehicles come into the equation: “The old Unimog were equipped for fire fighting, not for technical support operations required in emergency assistance missions,” Christian Schwarze explains. The new vehicles' equipment includes elements, such as a vehicle winch, a hydraulic rescue platform for rescuing truck occupants, a chainsaw and integrated angle grinder technology. Because the RW-HG Unimog U 5023 has this type of equipment on board, it can also be used as a recovery vehicle for off-road operations using a TLF-W (forest fire pump water tender).
THERE ARE MANY WHO CLAIM THEIR PRODUCTS CAN DO WHAT THE UNIMOG CAN DO.
Christian Schwarze, Head of Stuttgart Fire Service
The Unimog is the only choice for technology professionals.
Christian Schwarze has plenty of experience in fighting fires. He has been working in the fire service for a total of 43 years. Until 2022, Christian Schwarze chaired the technical committee of the German fire service. Stuttgart's fire service owes him the highest recognition when it comes to the service's technical alignment with international standards, for example in terms of forest fire fighting.
“And that’s exactly where the Unimog proves its worth,” says Christian Schwarze. “We've already had deployments in the middle of the forest, in which our colleagues asked us how we got there so quickly – they couldn't believe it.” “We simply drove,” we said. As far as the new equipment vehicles are concerned, there was no choice, says the Head of the Fire Service: “it goes without saying that our tender did not discriminate. And there are many manufacturers who claim their products can do what the Unimog can do. But it's hard to find a 15-tonne vehicle with homologation for public roads that can cope with off-road terrain – and flooded roads.”
In any case, Stuttgart's fire service was unable to identify an alternative to the Unimog in the pan-European vehicle tenders.
Want to learn more about the extreme off-road Unimog?