Refreshment for the Crew

In and around Hannover, Germany, battle-weary firefighters in the field can access the delicious, nourishing meals they need in order to keep body and soul together. Despite being at an incident site, they can take a little precious time out to enjoy local delicacies like Kassler ribs with sauerkraut and potatoes, followed by a mouthwatering desert. In the morning, there might be scrambled eggs, the breakfast of champions, followed by a lunch of, say, split-pea and sausage soup and in the evening, perhaps a hearty roast with greens, potatoes and a satisfying sauce. And where do these meals come from? Surely a restaurant or a large commercial kitchen? No. They come courtesy of a much smaller establishment going by the name of "Florian-Hannover-Land 9059-03".

"Florian-Hannover-Land 9059-03" – that’s the call sign of a shiny new catering truck that went into service with Brigade III of the Hannover Regional Fire Department a few months ago. Identical trucks were issued to the department’s four other brigades at the same time. The one operated by Brigade III – which is responsible for providing fire services to the cities of Pattensen, Hemmingen, Laatzen und Springe – will be on display at the pavilion operated by Hannover Airport and the Hannover regional government ("Region Hannover") in Hall 17 at INTERSCHUTZ 2020.

Like its four sister vehicles, "9059-03" has well and truly proven its worth in the field. "Everyone who’s experienced our new truck has been really impressed with it," says Horst Wlodarski, who manages and operates the truck. "For example, we recently fed the crews from Laatzen and Hemmingen who had gathered to receive medals of honor for their role in fighting the peat fire in Meppen in 2018. The truck also did a great job of catering for 140 members of the Bentheim fire brigade who were conducting large-scale exercises in our district."

Like a commercial kitchen

Wlodarski is supported by a permanent crew of five – two women and three men – all of whom are passionate hobby cooks. One of them is a trained butcher, which is a major plus for the team’s skill mix. "Needless to say, we call in additional help when things get really busy,” says Wlodarski. He is extremely pleased with the truck’s equipment and fit-out, which is "just like a commercial kitchen”. All five of the new catering trucks have stainless steel equipment and state-of-the-art chillers. Each truck has a maximum allowable gross weight of 6.9 metric tons, which includes an 800-kilogram allowance for cooling and kitchen equipment, materials and food. This expansive allowance, in combination with the optimized capacity of the cooking equipment, means that each vehicle can cater for over 150 crew members at a single sitting.

Each truck is fully self-contained: it can provide all necessary food services to firefighters in the field without having to rely on local utilities, such as power, water and gas. "We carry 200 liters of LPG and 100 liters of fresh water, which is enough to get us through emergencies,” says Horst Wlodarski. This self-sufficiency means the trucks can very quickly be deployed to wherever they are needed. Each truck has an onboard propane gas system that can be refueled at any LGP filling station, as well as connectors for fresh water refilling and mains electricity.

The trucks are state-of-the art,” regional fire chief Karl-Heinz Mensing stressed at the formal handover of the trucks. "Thanks to them, we are now well equipped to deal with any future calls for assistance from neighboring fire districts. They can of course also be used locally in the event of large-scale incidents.” Like other fire trucks, these mobile kitchens are painted red and are equipped with blue flashing lights, sirens and VHF radio.

Region Hannover has invested some 1.5 million euros in the new trucks. The government official responsible for the acquisition, Head Regional Councilor Cora Hermenau, has no doubts regarding the need for the vehicles. “Anyone who is putting their life on the line in the service of others for prolonged periods needs sustenance in order to keep their strength up,” she said. “That can be a challenge, particularly in large-scale incidents.”

The concept for the new fire service catering vehicles was developed by members of the Hannover region’s volunteer fire services in partnership with the Fire and Emergency Management and Consumer Protection and Veterinary Affairs services of Region Hannover. The trucks were fitted out by SEICO Fahrzeugbau, an automotive engineering firm based in Rotenburg an der Wümme. Another advantage of the trucks is that, at only 6.9 metric tons, they can be driven by holders of motor vehicle license classes which are considerably less onerous than those required for heavier trucks. Exhibition Topic