The “interrelationship between living things and their environment” – that is the definition of ecology – and it seems to have hardly ever been more critically scrutinized or put to the test than of late. Due to the climate crisis, scarcity of resources, globalization and other factors, external circumstances change, to which we humans inevitably not only have to adjust, but also now have to react. The EU ban on disposable plastic articles, the ushering in of the energy transition, the growing importance of e-cars in the global automotive market, and the ongoing bio-boom are just a few examples of how neo-ecology is finding its way into our everyday lives.
The megatrend of neo-ecology is also not insignificant to the firefighting industry, so there are many points to touch on. For example, firefighting services have been dealing with the subject of extinguishing foam and its environmental impact for several years now. Although extinguishing foams are brilliantly suited to combating solid and liquid fires, not all foaming agents in circulation (fluorine surfactant-containing) are harmless to humans and nature. An incorrect application or disposal can lead to significant environmental damage (see blog post “The blessing and curse of “fluorine” in fire fighting foam”). The environmentally friendly and resource-sparing use of extinguishing agents – especially of foam additives – will therefore continue to increase in the future in fire departments.
Fueled by the ongoing debates surrounding the climate crisis and its increasingly obvious effects, energy transition in terms of the increased uptake of non-fossil energy resources such as photovoltaics, wind and hydroelectric power also appears to be gathering pace. In practice, this should also mean that more and more private households will become energy producers, with PV systems on their roofs and energy storage systems in their garages, which in turn represents an increased hazard potential for fire departments. In addition, there are increasing numbers of e-cars on the road, and if a fire breaks out involving the batteries, this would be very difficult to extinguish with the methods currently available. In the event of a crash, they must be handled by the fire brigade with particular caution when using hydraulic or electric rescue equipment, due to the high-voltage cables incorporated into the bodywork.
Environmental disasters caused by the climate, such as floods, storms, heatwaves, droughts and forest fires, have become increasingly common over the last two decades. Due to the predicted increase in global warming, it is also unlikely that this situation will ease. For example, forest fire scenarios, which used to be restricted to Mediterranean areas, are increasingly becoming threats in central and northern Europe, and fire brigades are more regularly having to respond to these.
The positive aspect of the megatrend neo-ecology is the changing attitude of society towards our planet. A conscious and sustainable use of resources is becoming more a point of action than ever before. Environmental protection, sustainability, bio & co. are no longer marginal phenomena brought up by small groups here and there, but are now mainstream topics, whose relevance is gaining awareness among more and more people.