The fire department is a social place of participation and diversity. To keep it that way, twelve projects of the state firefighters' associations and the German Firefighters' Association (DFV) are working in the federal program "Cohesion through Participation" (Z:T). They help with conflicts, train volunteer pilots and educate people about extremism. INTERSCHUTZ offers the opportunity to get to know the firefighters' Z:T projects: On the one hand, they can be found daily at the DFV joint stand in Hall 27 (D38). On the other hand, a free conference on the federal program will be held on Friday, June 24, from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Convention Center on the exhibition grounds. This year, author Jennifer Teege will be among those speaking on the topic of everyday racism. To register, visit .

Trained honorary volunteers on the job

Daniel Thomas Geis, the project officer for Rhineland-Palatinate, will be on hand at the DFV stand at INTERSCHUTZ to provide information about the activities of his Z:T project. For almost two years, the training of volunteer guides could only take place in online events - now there is training and also regular meetings for the volunteer democracy consultants, as they are also called, in presence again.

"We had been advertising a new basic training course since the beginning of the year," Geis reports. "The response was great, so a new course has just been able to start." In total, 28 firefighters have already been trained as volunteer pilots and two more as mediators since the project began six years ago. "Volunteer pilots are supposed to provide support in conflicts and promote an understanding of democracy in the fire department," explains Frank Hachemer, president of the LFV Rhineland-Palatinate and DFV vice president. "In the association, they are the contact person for the firefighters, the managers, but also for the administration. Regardless of whether it's a matter of membership decline, conflicts at all levels, or even topics such as threats to children's well-being or anti-democratic behavior."

The training of the volunteer guides takes place within the framework of the Federal Ministry of the Interior's "Cohesion through Participation" program, which promotes projects for democratic participation and against extremism in rural and structurally weak areas. The focus is on regionally based clubs and associations with many volunteers. According to the Federal Agency for Civic Education, "Zusammenhalt durch Teilhabe" aims to train and strengthen attentive and respected local democracy advisors. The projects are intended to act preventively, especially in the run-up to possible extremist and misanthropic threats, and to create the basic conditions for equal and non-violent coexistence.

"The current figures of the police crime statistics show that very many criminal and violent acts were committed by right-wing extremists*," reports Daniel Thomas Geis. "Therefore, we continue to focus our work on raising awareness of various right-wing extremist manifestations and the creative efforts of the scene to recruit new supporters." Especially in the course of the Corona pandemic, new alliances have been formed in which right-wing extremists* act together with self-proclaimed "Reich citizens" and "lateral thinkers" and bring their respective anti-constitutional ideologies into the public eye, he said.

"Through a variety of offerings such as a basic seminar, an e-learning module as well as workshops, simulation games and individually tailored events at the local level, we want to reach as many firefighters as possible and appeal even more to the multiplier*in function, especially through the activities of our honorary service pilots," Geis continued. As LFV president, Frank Hachemer has also established contact with the Reichsbanner Schwarz-Rot-Gold, the association of active democrats. In this association, people are committed to the goal of preserving and strengthening the free democratic constitutional order of the Federal Republic of Germany. They continue the tradition of the association founded by SPD, Zentrumspartei as well as DDP in 1924 and banned in 1933. Furthermore, an exchange between the LFV and the Turkish Community of Rhineland-Palatinate will take place regularly in the future.

Information on Z:T projects at the federal and state levels is available online at