Rated suitable for the beach.

Water rescue with the Unimog on Usedom.

Thomas Labahn has been with the Ückeritz volunteer fire service for 14 years and became its Chief Firefighter five years ago. In his home parish, he knows every single stone and every single danger. And there are plenty of them around the village of 1000 inhabitants on the island of Usedom.

Saving lives nine times a year.

On one side there is the Baltic Sea and on the other, the Achterwasser. "Water rescues are an elementary part of our work," says Chief Firefighter Labahn. The 40-year-old heads up a team of 28 active firefighters and co-ordinates demanding operations in the event of an emergency.

Whenever people are missing in the water, the team from Ückeritz turn out to provide support. On average, this happens up to nine times a year. The specialists from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service (DGzRS) carry out the search on the water whilst the firefighters from Ückeritz search for any sign of hope from the beach

Safe through the sand.

But there's only one vehicle that can get them there: the Unimog. A brand new Unimog U 5023 has been parked in their hangar for a few months now. "Of course we also looked at alternative vehicles. But in the end, there's just no other vehicle which can be used as universally and which is as good off-road as the Unimog.

Labahn is well and truly impressed by the red newcomer in his fleet. "In particular, the fording depth of 1.20 m was a decisive factor in the new acquisition," he explains. Politicians and the brigade itself quickly agreed that a Unimog was indispensable for operations on the island, especially on the beach. From the outset, they received competent advice from their Unimog general distributor.

Special equipment for rescue operations.

Items of equipment such as a raised exhaust and air intake as well as an additional coating to protect against salt water were added to the specification list. As was the fully automatic tyre pressure control system, 455/70R24 studded tyres and a hydraulic Rotzler cable winch with a 40 m working cable length.

The permanently installed light mast can be extended to a height of five metres. On-board, there is space for six firefighters. In addition to the driver, the crew's commander, a rapid-response team, a water team and – depending on the situation – even a boat pilot can travel in the Unimog at the same time. When the alarm is raised to search for a person missing at sea, the Unimog also tows a special trailer carrying a 5.50-m-long rubber boat with a 90 hp outboard motor.

In the end, there's just no other vehicle which can be used as universally and which is as good off-road as the Unimog

Thomas Labahn, Chief Firefighter, Ückeritz Volunteer Fire Department

The logistics professional is always there.

But it isn't just the fact that the Unimog can be used on the beach that make it an attractive choice of vehicle. "We helped design the body in a particularly flexible way," says Thomas Labahn. Bodybuilder Parkentin supplied the body while the five different roller containers were manufactured by Günzburger Steigtechnik. In just three and a half minutes, these can be swapped around as appropriate for the specific operations to which the vehicle is called out.

If there is a fire, the permanently installed hose system with 16 B hoses is used. When operating double-crewed, a reel length of 350 m can be put together in no time at all. Plus, with the additionally available hose transport trailer, a further 750 m can be carried along with ease. A hygiene container as well as a container with special equipment for vegetation fires are also expected to be available in the near future.

As a "logistics equipment vehicle", the Unimog always turns out for every shout. And there's a simple reason for that: you often only get the full picture of what's happening when you arrive on the scene.


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