What does it take to be a volunteer firefighter? How does it differ from your regular office job here at Deutsche Messe?

Yvonne Schulz: In my office job I have a lot of contact with customers, and so I have to adopt quite a different persona than the one I have here at the firehouse. Here, you have to be fairly tough, your sole focus is on ensuring that you and your team know your drills inside out. The biggest difference, of course, is the physicality of the firefighting role.

So, is it more than just a job? Is it a true calling?

Yvonne Schulz: Well, it's neither really. I have my chosen career as an event manager, and I also work as a volunteer firefighter. They are both a part of me, and I don't really think about them in an either/or kind of way.

Why did you join the Deutsche Messe volunteer fire brigade?

Yvonne Schulz: I used to be a member of the local village volunteer fire service when I was younger. So I mentioned that in my job application for Deutsche Messe, and the company’s fire brigade approached me about it pretty soon after I got the job. Now I’m one of two women serving here at the firehouse.

Do volunteer firefighters have special responsibilities as role models? Do you see yourself as a role model?

Yvonne Schulz: I've never really thought it about it, to be honest. But, obviously, we're role models in a certain sense because we're there to help other people. And so I think it's important to act the part.

Are you always on stand-by?

Yvonne Schulz: Yes. When I'm at work in the office I can be called up for duty at any time. Incidents can arise after hours as well, so I have to be ready for that, too. But, thankfully, I’ve found a way of switching off and relaxing.

What advice do you have for people who are considering joining a volunteer fire brigade?

Yvonne Schulz: Well, they should definitely be interested in technology, in people, and in helping others for the sake of it. And the women out there should be aware that firefighting is still something of a male domain. So sometimes the language can get a bit crude – but possibly that also has something to do with the hard physical labor involved. There’s more to it than just turning on the water and pointing the hose in the right direction. You actually break a sweat, sometimes you really have to put your back into it. That's just something to be aware of.