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Firefighters' associations react appalled to budget plans

Budget of the Federal Ministry of the Interior is to be drastically reduced - vfdb and DFV: A disaster for the protection of the population

Berlin - The Association for the Promotion of German Fire Protection (vfdb) and the German Fire Brigades Association (DFV) have reacted with horror and complete incomprehension to reports from the Bundestag that the budget of the Federal Ministry of the Interior is to fall by more than 2.22 billion euros in the coming year. "If the plan were to be implemented, the state would probably hardly be able to fulfill its obligation to protect the population," said vfdb President Dirk Aschenbrenner, "that would be a disaster." DFV President Karl-Heinz Banse added: "The ability to be better positioned in the future than before in the event of disasters and crises would thus not be strengthened, but reduced."

Both presidents recalled the necessities that experts had identified after recent events. These include, in addition to the heavy rain disaster, not least the enormous challenge posed by the pandemic, but also by the refugee crisis - triggered by the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. "And also the current forest and vegetation fires clearly showed how and where Germany had to invest more instead of less," Aschenbrenner and Banse continued.

Only in February the vfdb had given recommendations for the optimization of the protection of the population in Germany in a letter to Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser on the occasion of the coalition agreement of the government parties. Among other things in it apart from the creation of an operational-tactical guidance mechanism on federal level also the development of a national crisis management was suggested. Furthermore, the experts called for a uniform nationwide warning and information system for the population in hazardous situations.

As early as November 2021, the German Fire Brigades Association had called on the federal government to ensure that civil defense and disaster management organizations can successfully meet the demands of the future by providing adequate funding. "Also in response to the effects of increasing climate change, special attention is needed to strengthen resilience and further improve in the area of warning the population," DFV President Banse addressed the leaders of the governing parties. 

In another letter, the vfdb called for a significant increase in budgetary allocations for civil defense in early April. So far the expenditures of the federation for the civil defense had only a volume, which corresponds to approximately 0.3 per cent of the defense budget, it said. In addition to a strong army, however, an effective civilian defense is also needed to protect the country, it said. "Even a doubling of the budget for civil defense would only slightly burden the federal budget as a whole," vfdb President Aschenbrenner said. 

Against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, DFV President Karl-Heinz Banse had addressed Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser in early March, urging the implementation of new measures in the area of civil defense, such as command structures or the procurement of CBRN technology: In addition to the necessary further development of military defense, however, and consistently, a special focus must also be placed on the capabilities in the area of civil defense that are inevitably associated with this, he said.

The reorientation of civil defense was also one of the defining themes at the 29th German Firefighters' Day in Hanover in June. There, Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser had made a clear commitment to the German Fire Brigades Association and to the fire departments throughout Germany and paid tribute to the commitment and work of the fire departments in a wide variety of operational situations and for society in general: "The fire departments are the essential component of the security architecture in Germany, and we must treat them as such," Faeser had stressed. The Federal Minister of the Interior had pledged her support in pushing through the demand for permanent representation of the German Fire Brigades Association as a direct representative of the fire departments in the new Joint Competence Center for Civil Protection of the federal and state governments.

Press release as PDF