Slavonice The volunteer fire department of Slavonice was founded in 1882. During the plan „Z“ activities in 1973 the citizens built themselves a new and modern building. Currently the squadron has 63 members, 26 women, and 37 men of who 24 are trained for active duty. Two vehicles are available and fully equipped for firefighting. The force is also an essential part of the town´s social life as can be observed in their many festivities throughout the year. Most popular amongst them is the „Fireman´s ball“ which attracts up to 600 people, as well as the activities surrounding the Maypole celebrations, and the „Day of Open doors“. The squadron is also significantly involved in the organization of the „Jarmark“, and also takes part in the international „Day of children“. Naturally, the force also participates in regional and international competitions. For the last 20 years, across the border in Austria, they focus is on demonstrating and coordinating the two countries differing styles of running their emergency operations in the field.
Dobersberg In the entire municipality there are 404 members of the volunteer fire department (23,9% of the population). With 119 active in the Dobersberg branch, it is the strongest in the district of Waidhofen/Thaya. The history of the department started in 1876 and visitors can find detailed information, historical equipment and pictures about it in local Museum of Dobersberg Fire Department. The FF Dobersberg is a ‘Stationierungsfeuerwehr’ (stationing fire department) for various special mission equipment such as for the Aero services (District North), a Breathing Air Vehicle, category 2 protective suits, 150kVA power generator, high performance compression pumps, Infrared Cameras… If special equipment is required, the mission’s territory of the Dobersberg forces extends to district, region and national levels. Every year The Dobersberg Fireman Youth achieve top ranks at various competitions proving its skills. It also takes part in national and even international events representing the Lower Austrian Fireman Youth.
Tiefenbach From the 17th century onwards there is documentation of fires that have perio-dically ravaged the village. On September 27, 1887 the entire village burned to the ground, only five houses were spared. After repeated fires, with the help of the Tiefenbach municipality, the Freiwillige Feuerwehr (volunteer fire department) was founded on January 15th 1927. The funds necessary for the purchase of a Motorspritze (fire engine) and other essential equipment were supplemented by donations from the local residents. In order to guarantee the operability of the department during the challenges of World War II eleven women joined the ranks on January 2nd,1944. In the general meeting January 9th, 1956 it was decided to rebuild and enlarge the headquarters. On May 25th,1986 a Mass was celebrated, dedicating the newly renovated headquarters and the purchase of the fire engine VW LT 35. To improve its economic situation, the fire station organizes a Heurigen (young wine tasting) every year in early summer – and all are welcome.
Kautzen The local fire department is proud of having founded the first youth group vo-lunteer fire fighter squadron in the region Waldkirchenan der Thaya (1974). This group organizes year-round training events as well as social gatherings in addition to the spring and summer camps centered on fire fighting competitions for participants between the ages 10 – 15. Since 2001 girls are also admitted to the squadron. Over the 40 years of its existence the activities of the youth group brought 200 young fire fighters to the service.
Reibers The volunteer fire department in Reibers was founded in 1901 as a local initiative and 29 people become active members. A year later the force had 37 men and procured the necessary equipment, including a hand operated pump, which was immediately employed to extinguish a blaze. The first motor driven pump was purchased in 1935. In 1903 the squadron organized the first Fireman’s Ball which, like the Pfingst activities at the end of May, have become a much loved tradition. The proceeds from this event go towards the purchase of firefighting equipment. Currently the department has about 50 volunteers who proudly and successfully participate in regional competitions.
Volunteer Fire Departments in Austria and Czech
The first traces of organized Fire departments on Austrian soil date back to the 3rd Century A.D. and were discovered during excavations in the Roman Camps of Carnuntum, Vindobona, FlaviaSolva, Ovilava, Lauriacum and Virunum.
The first volunteer fire departments were founded in the mid-19th Century. Ferdinand Leitenberger in the Bohemian town of Reichstadt was a Pioneer of the movement that at the turn to the 20th Century already saw 2.677 departments established. Today around 300.000 women and men are organized in 4.528 volunteer Fire Departments around the country. Basically anyone from the age of 10 can become a member and will be trained and employed according to her/his abilities.
Especially in rural areas the fire, disaster protection and emergency services are mainly attended to by volunteer fire departments. Their active members train regularly and compete with other outfits in their spare time to be fit and ready for deployment. The financial responsibilities are with the communities but activities such as sport competitions and cultural events bring in urgently needed donations. Apart from the vital emergency services the departments provide, they also are invaluable for the social structure of the community. But in some regions their existence is endangered by the increasing loss of youth migrating to the cities.
Saint Florian, patron of firefighters
The life of St. Florian (Florian of Lorch) is surrounded by many legends and myths. He was an officer in the Roman army. In 304 he publicly objected to the Emperors antichristian campaigns and demanded the release of 40 incarce-rated fellow believers. He was arrested, tortured and forced to renounce his faith. When he refused he was executed on May 4th of the same year, thrown into the Enns River with a stone tied around his neck. Florian’s remains have become relics, which since the 11th century can be found in churches around Italy (Rome and Bologna), Poland (Krakow) and the Czech Republic (Cathedral of St. Vitus in Olomouc, Kladno church and Havlíčkův Brod). These relics are supposed to protect the cities from fires. As Florian was martyred in the water he became the patron saint of firefighters and all occupations related to fire (ironworkers, chimney sweepers, potters, bakers…). He became one of the patrons of Poland, and Austria’s first saint and martyr. His cult spread throughout Europe, as documented by several monasteries, countless statues (in Slavonice on the upper square), shown on official seals, coats of arms, the facades of houses, and especially at fire stations (on our route: Reibers, Reingers, Gilgenberg, Tiefenbach,. .). He is depicted as a Roman officer in armour with a helmet, flag in one hand and a barrel of water in the other.