When giving up
is simply not an option.

Unimog ensures the fire service in Dresden is operational – even in extremes.

What started with a little bit of white quickly became a real snow marathon in winter 2018/2019. In Dresden, the roads and paths frequently disappear under the white masses. For the fire service this means they must make sure that they are always operational! Because in an emergency the rescue services cannot afford to wait until the municipal winter service has cleared the roads for them.

The fire station at Albertstadt can confront heavy snowfall with confidence thanks to its highly off-road capable Unimog U 5023. Because when it comes to the crunch, the red all-rounder doesn't just prove itself in the job it was bought for – saving people's lives and heavy-duty technical assistance in accidents involving trams – but also in winter service work. Thanks to its front mounting plate, the vehicle can be quickly fitted with a wedged snowplough from Aebi Schmidt, reliably clears paths and large areas, and with a small turning circle of only 17 m can reach the scene of almost any operation.

Interview with Michael Strauß.

As a station manager at the fire station in Dresden-Albertstadt, Michael Strauß thinks very highly of the Unimog that assists in operations. We interviewed him about why the highly off-road capable special truck really deserves the title of all-rounder.


In Dresden and many other places, man and machine are battling the snow masses this winter. To what extent is your Unimog U 5023 a help in such extreme weather conditions?

Usually the snow gods are quite merciful to the state capital of Dresden. The average snow depth is quite manageable. Also the winter service is well-equipped and in normal situations reacts to the onset of winter very quickly. Therefore, as a rule, the Unimog stands in the garage without a snowplough.

Due to possible extreme weather conditions which are becoming more frequent now, the vehicle is however intended for winter service work too. The focus is on ensuring the functionality of the fire and rescue station crews. The snowplough and if necessary the snow chains can be mounted very quickly. Thus we are in a position to help ourselves whenever the whole city is busy with the weather conditions. Because whenever you buy a Unimog you should keep all your options open, in order to be able to employ its great potential effectively and as needed.

A strong team: the team in Albertstadt can rely on the Unimog U 5023. © Feuerwehr Dresden
The Unimog body enables the drays to be loaded and unloaded very quickly using the cargo liftgate. © Feuerwehr Dresden
Robust equipment: the cable winch on the front of the Unimog. © Feuerwehr Dresden
A strong team: the team in Albertstadt can rely on the Unimog U 5023. © Feuerwehr Dresden

How large is the team and the vehicle fleet?
Here at the fire station in Dresden-Albertstadt, 20 members of staff are always on duty at the same time. They operate a total of eight vehicles. In addition to fire-fighting, our job includes emergency rescue and we specialise in heavy-duty technical assistance. This means that wherever heavy-duty technology is required for fire-service operations, the specialised forces at the Albertstadt fire station are alerted. That could mean accidents involving trucks for example. But we are also called to operations with trams – both in case of accidents and breakdowns. We have special technology such as a rescue vehicle equipped with a crane for this type of operation. And then we use our Unimog U 5023 as well.


What equipment does the vehicle have specifically for that type of operation? 
The Unimog U 5023 has been in operation here since 2017. The vehicle is capable of fording and is equipped with both a box body and a vehicle lift. The lift is designed so that it can be used in operations which demand maximum fording depth. The sidewalls are equipped with covers and fold-down walls so that a fork-lift truck can be used for loading. A series of airline rails have been fitted to the floor, ceiling and the sides in order to provide a diverse range of options for securing loads. Furthermore the vehicle is equipped with a 5-t winch with an 80-m cable and a front plate for mounting a snowplough.

What do you appreciate most about your Unimog?
The Unimog is used for logistic jobs, when classic trucks cannot get to the scene of operations because of the ground conditions. Not only off-road and fording capability are important success factors in fire-service and disaster operations but also the robustness and reliability of the vehicle.


What tasks associated with classic fire-service operations are carried out by the Unimog?
In standard operations, the Unimog is equipped with all the devices required to raise a tram in the shortest possible time. We call it the "people-saving module" for tram assistance. This is always required when someone is trapped under a tram. We need a vehicle that is absolutely robust and has off-road capabilities in order to access the tram tracks everywhere in the city area. We can only guarantee fast assistance if the vehicle is able to transport the necessary material very close to the scene of the accident. In many cases the tram tracks and the nearest paved road are quite a distance apart. That is when the Unimog can play out its strengths. The equipment is loaded on six drays which can be loaded and unloaded quickly via the cargo liftgate. Also the Unimog is intended for special situations.

Special situations?
For example: it is well-known that the Elbe regularly overflows its banks. It is really rare that this happens and causes such huge damage as in 2002. If, as a result, parts of the city can no longer be reached with normal road vehicles, then the Unimog can be employed thanks to its fording depth and off-road capability. In this case logistics tasks in flooded areas must be carried out – either as part of emergency rescue operations or when transporting materials. Of course we can only hope that our Unimog U 5023 never has to prove itself in that field.


Do you operate any other Unimog vehicles?
The Dresden fire service has been using a Unimog U 1300 since 1990. initially it operated as a rescue vehicle. After the assistance concept was expanded and reorganised, this vehicle became a logistics vehicle. It is equipped with a cargo liftgate and a winch and provides a good service at the voluntary fire station in Dresden-Pappritz. When needed it can be equipped with various logistics modules, such as a water supply for fire-fighting. Thus the vehicle can be used for a diverse range of tasks.

How crucial are the vehicles and equipment to rescue operations?
Every rescue operation is hard for the team and of course for our equipment and vehicles. Whenever human life is at risk, something has to be done very quickly. Everything must run like clockwork and we train hard to achieve that. Obviously we need very robust reliable technology which can cope with all that. Because, for us, giving up is not an option – and the same applies to our vehicles.

visible-md and up (hidden-sm and down)
visible-lg and up (hidden-md and down)