Children's fire brigade practice with a self-built Mini Unimog.
How to make the emergency number for the fire department more memorable? In German, there is a short rhyme that kids are taught, in case they ever find themselves in need of assistance: „Wenn es brennt, irgendwo, ruf die Nummer eins-eins-zwo“ („If there’s a fire anywhere, call 112“). But have you ever wondered how those coming to your aid are trained? Andreas Gasser from the voluntary fire department in the Hessian district Neuenhain has come up with something special to help motivate the younger generation of fire fighters: A DIY miniature Unimog. It has exactly the right size for the juniors and it even features equipment true to the original. Thus, it is ideal for the technical training of the fire-fighting kids, called the „Löschfüchse“ („Fire-fighting foxes“).
As soon as they turn six years old, boys and girls are allowed to join the voluntary children’s fire department in Neuenhain. One of the newer members is Andreas Gasser’s son, who represents the fourth generation of the Gasser family in the fire department Neuenhain. „At this age, most children are not even as tall as the tires of our regular vehicles“, Marco Müssig, chief and chairperson of the fire department, explains. This is problematic, as not only the vehicle but also the rest of the equipment is heavy, bulky and therefore potentially dangerous to use – definitely not suitable for children.
But naturally, kids want to do the same things grown-ups do. “In the past few years, we practiced with small hoses and boxes”, Marco Müssig recounts. “We had to lift the kids up to the pump control platform so they could see what was going on.” In 2018, Andreas Gasser came up with the idea of building a small vehicle for the children. Not an easy undertaking, as the safety of the young fire fighters, the “Löschfüchse” as they are called in Neuenhain, needs to be guaranteed at any time.