The round trip from the capital of the German state of Lower Saxony to the French parish of Roye in the Hauts-de-France region and back again is a distance of 1,400 km. The convoy will make several stops in route in its role as ambassador for next year's major industry event, the trade fair INTERSCHUTZ . The convoy sets out on 31 May from the Hannover Exhibition Center, and is due to arrive back at the state of Lower Saxony's parliament building on 5 June.
The tour will highlight around 60 years of firefighting history. "We will be travelling with three completely different vehicles," says Michael Hahn, former local fire chief in Wedemark, who has organized the tour. "We have a VW Amarok first response vehicle of the latest model, and a brand-new medium fire truck, known as an MLF. These examples of the latest generation of vehicles are accompanied by a historic Ford Transit small appliance dating from 1963. This 56-year-old veteran was once standard equipment for fire brigades in small towns and villages."
A day after its departure from Hannover, the convoy will arrive in Dortmund, where the President of the German Fire Prevention Association (vfdb) and Head of the city's fire services, Dirk Aschenbrenner, has his offices. The vfdb, along with the German Fire Services Association (DFV), is the official sponsor of INTERSCHUTZ, which is organized and staged by Deutsche Messe. Cheered on their way by messages of greeting from vfdb President Aschenbrenner and DFV President Hartmut Ziebs, the firefighting ambassadors will then travel on to Koblenz. Here the fire crews will receive messages of greeting from the DFV Vice-President and President of the Rhineland-Palatinate Fire Services Association, Frank Hachemer, before they continue their journey to Roye.
The fire brigade in the Wedemark district to the north of Hannover, has maintained close links for many years with the local fire service – Sapeurs Pompiers de Roye. "The close ties between the two fire brigades and the fact that France is the official Partner Country of INTERSCHUTZ 2020 are two good reasons why this tour is taking place," commented Wedemark's mayor, Helge Zychlinski.
During its travels, the small delegation is keen to meet up with as many firefighting professionals as possible and distribute promotional material on INTERSCHUTZ 2020. On the first stage, from Hannover to Dortmund, stops are planned in Hamlin, Bad Pyrmont, Bad Lippspringe, Soest, Werl and Unna. On the next stage, from Dortmund to Koblenz, the fire crews will be making stops in Hagen, Bergisch Gladbach, Sankt Augustin, Bonn and Neuwied. The convoy then travels on via Nürburg, Kerpen, Hallschlag, Büllingen (Belgium), Vielsalm (Belgium), Somme Leuze (Belgium), Le Cateau Combrèsis (France), Saint Quentin (France) and Nesle (France), before reaching the final destination of Roye. The fire crews plan to update everyone about their journey and their current position via social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn). "We are hoping, of course, that this will enable as many of our colleagues as possible to follow our progress and cheer us on our way," said Michael Hahn.
On arrival in Roye, the little INTERSCHUTZ delegation can look forward to a grand reception led by local fire chief Lieutenant de 1ère classe Dominique Lurin and the commanding officers of the fire services of the French Département of Somme, with headquarters in Amiens.
After a two-day stay as the guests of the partner parish, the convoy will head back to Hannover on 5 June.