Frictions due to the war and supply bottlenecks

The investment mood of municipalities remains high, and manufacturers have their hands busy. The globally tense supply and logistics situation, but also the war in Ukraine, are currently causing headaches for the industry. "Supplier parts and components of almost all kinds have become a scarce commodity on the world markets. Added to this are uncertainties in view of the war situation, especially with regard to components from the crisis regions. The challenge for factories is great. After all, the current order backlog corresponds to a production period of almost a year," explains Scherer.

3,200 fire fighting vehicles newly registered

Last year, the industry achieved visible market success in almost all product sectors – chassis, bodies, and equipment. For the current year, the association forecasts a continuation of the bull market with a view to incoming orders.

"In 2021, we succeeded in selling a total of 3,200 new fire fighting vehicles on the German market. This means that we have once again surpassed even the excellent result of the previous year," says Scherer.

China by far the biggest importer

However, the high demand for innovative firefighting technology is not only coming from Germany. Around 35 percent of the firefighting vehicles, system solutions and equipment manufactured in this country are now exported.

"Our export quota is growing slowly but steadily. Particularly within the European Union, but also in the Far East, the high-quality standard of innovative firefighting technology 'Made in Germany' is highly appreciated," says the VDMA managing director. The industry association is increasingly observing international procurement strategies from which innovative European manufacturers are benefiting in particular. China, for example, has become the decisive international import market for sophisticated firefighting technology, accounting for almost 20 percent of the total value of exports from the local industry.

Innovations with high utility value announced

The firefighting technology industry is eagerly awaiting its flagship Interschutz trade show, which will be held at the Hanover Exhibition Center from June 20 to 25. Numerous innovations with high utility value have been announced. Digitization and urbanization are seen as key technology drivers. "Intelligent networking ideas support fire departments in obtaining as comprehensive a picture of the situation as possible even before they arrive on the scene. Smooth connectivity and cross-manufacturer interfaces are an essential prerequisite for this," says Scherer.

Sensors and video cameras, which are increasingly finding their way into the 'smart home,' enable a new quality of situation assessment in conjunction with geo-referenced, near-real-time data and electronic building plans. "Ultimately, this allows the incident commander to access all safety-relevant parameters from the command vehicle without any detours. In view of the holistic approach of digital networking, fire protection and firefighting are increasingly growing together," explains the association's managing director.

Digital route planning is already in use in many places, with emergency vehicles networked via radio link with the city's traffic control system to ensure even faster arrival of rescue forces at the scene of the fire.

At the scene of the fire itself, modern equipment technology supports the fireman: "Helmets with head-up displays are currently undergoing intensive testing," says Scherer. An image from a thermal imaging camera projected into the helmet wearer's field of vision helps locate people and animals even in a situation where visibility with the naked eye has long been impossible.

Electric drives proven in mid-size vehicles

Electric drive solutions are also on the rise and have already proven their worth in many small and medium-sized vehicles, such as emergency command vehicles. In larger vehicle classes, on the other hand, economical and low-emission diesel engines are still the first choice. "Tomorrow's drive and energy mix is an exciting topic that will also be on our minds in Hanover this summer. I can already promise you numerous interesting technology solutions," Scherer sums up.