Ms. Rzyski, among many other things you are responsible for the local fire services. How do you see this area of the public service and the profession in general?

Being Councilor for fire services is a real highlight for me. I am always impressed by the high intrinsic level of motivation and sense of calling shown by fire professionals and the voluntary fire brigade. These are extremely useful characteristics to have, because today’s fire services require not only high-level technical expertise but also a genuine interest in human welfare.

The key to a well-functioning fire service is a combination of professionalism and passion. No other part of the public service sector has to deal with as many emergency situations and requires as much ongoing training in order to maintain its ability to respond quickly and efficiently.

To be fit to the point and prepared for very different occasions, even if some competencies have not been called upon for a long time - I have the greatest respect for this.

Hannover will also host the German Firefighting Convention next year. What makes Hannover the right venue for this event?

On the one hand, because we simply love to be hosts. We have a lot of experience with major national and international events. And we are very pleased to be able to prove our qualities for this special event. With heart and competence Hannover will become the "World Fire Brigade Capital"!

On the other hand, our city has a very good infrastructure in the city centre, so that an event can be experienced in the heart of the city. Moreover, it’s been exactly 40 years since Hannover last hosted the German Firefighting Convention, so it’s quite an important anniversary.

How does Hannover prepare for these sorts of events?

The key is to include political decision-makers at an early stage. We are fortunate in that our city council is happy to contribute resources to the planning process - without their support it wouldn't work. That is not something to be taken for granted. In fact, last year the council appointed one of its staff members to a dedicated project management role. It’s important that all parties and departments involved collaborate so that all the key needs and requirements can be identified.

For our part, we assist with special permits, staffing, traffic planning, event management and various event-specific matters. Everyone involved is committed to contributing their area of expertise - and our joint start was extremely promising!

So what are the challenges?

The German Fire Brigade Day and the INTERSCHUTZ are of course a great challenge in terms of logistics, planning and ultimately the concrete implementation. An example: The visit of high-ranking guests is firmly scheduled, but requires a high degree of security precautions.

To this end, sensitive protocol regulations must be observed. Here, too, Deutsche Messe and the City of Hanover are well-rehearsed partners. Just think of Barack Obama's visit to the Hannover Messe in 2016.

It’s a whole year till the German Firefighting Convention and INTERSCHUTZ. That’s a long time. So when do you need to start organizing things?

Actually, we have already started, and our planning is becoming more and more concrete by the day. That’s because we are more than ‘just’ the host city; we will also have a presence at INTERSCHUTZ.

We’ll also be helping to organize and operate a number of showcases, such as an open-air demonstration site, the German Firefighting Convention, a Hannover Fire Department showcase and the German Smokejumping Championships.

Is Hannover’s citizenry already excited about next year’s events?

There certainly is keen interest in the emergency services among our local residents. That was clear to see at the recent “Blaulichtmeile” emergency services festival we staged in the CBD.

Of course, we used the opportunity to promote next year’s events to the general public. Awareness and interest among industry professionals is already high nationwide. Just recently, I met a volunteer firefighter in the German state of North-Rhine Westphalia who has already booked his annual vacation for next year in order to be able to come to Hannover.

Which themes and messages are the most important ones for you in 2020?

We want to do our part as host city to bring the INTERSCHUTZ lead theme of " Teams, Tactics, Technology – Connected for Protection and Rescue " to life. While rescue and disaster relief have always been important issues, digitization has emerged as a critically important topic in recent years. It’s thanks to digital technology that we can make the best possible use of the available bed capacities across multiple hospitals during mass casualty events, for instance, and efficiently coordinate the various organizations involved.

What makes INTERSCHUTZ so special is its unique mix of commercial and non-commercial exhibitors. The effective integration of professional and volunteer resources is another important topic because it makes such a huge difference to the people whose lives depend on these services.