Earthquake response professionals from Italy win International Firefighting Team of the Year Award

Published:  01 February, 2017

All the fire department teams that responded during the series of earthquakes in central Italy in summer 2016 have now received the Conrad Dietrich Magirus Award 2016. The International Firefighting Team of the Year Award 2016 was received by representatives on behalf of all firefighters who responded to the 2016 earthquake in central Italy.

The jury, as well as online voters, awarded prizes to two particularly demanding firefighting operations. The fire department from São Paulo in Brazil was also among the top three teams as was the fire department of Altenmarkt, Austria.

The São Paulo fire department fought a hazardous fire in an industrial facility, and the Altenmarkt faced a major fire in a magnesium foundry with multiple explosions.
The German National Firefighting Team of the Year Award went to the Volunteer Fire Department from Lehrte, Lower Saxony, for a demanding rescue operation on the A2 motorway. The Volunteer Fire Department Erkrath in North Rhine-Westphalia earned the Special Award for Social Engagement.

'Fire brigades make an enormous contribution to our society,' said Marc Diening, CEO of Magirus, in his welcome address. 'The winners of the Conrad Dietrich Magirus Award 2016 represent the many hundreds of thousands of personnel worldwide who risk their lives daily.'
London Fire Commissioner Danielle Cotton QFSM was the guest of honour, and she also paid tribute to her colleagues. 'The submissions show the great physical and mental demands of fire department tasks. I am pleased that the Conrad Dietrich Magirus Award honours this commitment.'
On 1 January 2017, Cotton was appointed Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade – with 103 firehouses and over 6,000 employees, one of the largest fire departments in the world. She is the first woman ever to take the helm of this organisation.

This year, the Conrad Dietrich Magirus Award was presented by two people who will go down in history for conducting a spectacular rescue operation in the Riesending Cave near Berchtesgaden in 2014.
Klemens Reindl from the Bavarian Mountain Rescue Service and Marko Budić from the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service responded with their teams and 700 additional people, as part of one of the largest mountain rescue operations seen in Germany. After eleven days, they brought the badly injured speleologist Johann Westhauser to safety from a depth of more than 1,000 metres.

'The Conrad Dietrich Magirus Award is now in its fifth consecutive year and is considered to be the "Oscar of the firefighting industry",' commented Diening. Over one hundred fire departments from numerous cities and municipalities throughout Germany as well as from Europe, South America, Asia, Oceania and the Middle East participated in the competition, often with daring missions.
A jury consisting, Michel Bour, general secretary of CTIF (the International Federation of Fire and Rescue Services), Ann-Marie Knegt, Editor of Fire and Rescue, Hermann Kollinger from the Austrian fire brigade magazine 'Brennpunkt', Piotr Pajor vice president of Firemax in Poland and Tristan Reitz from Magirus chose the best applications.
After being put online, they were subject to public online voting.
The winners received the most votes both from the jury and online voters. This resulted in the teams from Italy and Lower Saxony being chosen. They received the Conrad Dietrich Magirus Statue as well as a trip for ten members from each fire department to the Fire Department of New York (FDNY).

Perfect teamwork

During the awards ceremony, the guests saw images and movies of the response of this year's winners and finalists. The pictures illustrated that the actions of the Italian winners are a prime example of exceptional teamwork. On 24 August 2016, an earthquake of magnitude 6.2 destroyed numerous villages in central Italy. People had to be rescued from under the rubble and debris and approximately 40,000 were displaced and had to be brought to safety. Teams from over twelve regions as well as the large cities of Rome, Arezzo, Bologna, Venice and Pescara sped to the disaster area in central Italy to help with any possible resource. By 22 September 2016, the rescue teams had carried out 26,251 relief operations.

The call outs of the other top three finalists also left lasting impressions. The Volunteer Fire Department Altenmarkt dealt with a large fire in a magnesium foundry followed by several explosions. Two firefighters were injured, but in the end, the fire was successfully extinguished.
The Fire Department of São Paulo also had a difficult fire to fight. An industrial enterprise with several containers of highly flammable sodium dichloro isocyanurate – a substance used in detergents and disinfectants – had gone up in flames, releasing large quantities of toxic fumes. For over two days, the Fire Department São Paulo worked side by side with the plant fire department to extinguish the dangerous fire.

In 2016, the Conrad Dietrich Magirus Award was again supported by companies from the firefighting industry, including Endress Elektrogerätebau, Donges, Lukas and Vetter.

  • Operation Florian

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