The Dusseldorf Fire Department's water rescue truck in the spotlight

When the Dusseldorf Fire Department's diver squadron is alerted, they get busy. After a minute of set-up time, the crew is sitting in the vehicle and on its way to the scene. Everything it needs there is already on board the water rescue truck, a Rosenbauer AT on a MAN TGM 13,290 with 290hp, all-wheel drive and 13 ton gross vehicle weight. The lifeboat, if necessary, is already attached as well.

Everything is at hand

The water rescue truck looks more like a fire truck than a classic equipment truck and also offers significantly more space for the six-person crew and their extensive special equipment. In the spacious crew area, diving suits and whitewater rescue sets hang between the two seats equipped with PA holders in the direction of travel. In the action tower between the front seats, there is plenty of storage space for handheld devices and other, mostly personal equipment.

The rest of the special diving equipment is carried along in the specialized body and is packed for easier removal in boxes that are sorted by item type. The equipment includes dry diving and survival suits, goggles and masks, various multipurpose and safety lines, basic weights and accessories for the divers' phones as well as additional whitewater rescue sets, simple lifejackets and the so-called "Eisretter" (ice rescuer), a special dinghy with recesses in front and behind for rescuing people who have fallen through ice.

The diving equipment is mounted on lowering devices in equipment compartment 4. In equipment compartment 6 there is a sanitary wall with a compressed air gun and holder with collecting cup to hang up the wet suits after a dive to "dry" them on the return to base.

Safety first

As with all Rosenbauer ATs, the body and crew cab form a compact and robust unit that has a positive effect on driving behavior and safety of the occupants. Another safety feature is the patented rotating staircase, which locks in every door position and thus allows quick and safe cab entry and exit. The crew cab doors are glazed to allow prior orientation even before getting off at the operation site. The integrated LED technology with additional headlamps at the front and rear as well as stronger ambient lighting also contribute to greater safety at the place of use.

Staffed around the clock

The vehicle is stationed with the radio call name "Florian Dusseldorf 01-GW-Taucher-01" at Firehouse 1 on Hüttenstrasse in Friedrichstadt, one of the most densely populated districts of Dusseldorf. The firehouse, which was built in 1898 and has been modernized several times, houses not only the special water rescue unit but also the Dusseldorf Fire Department, the control center and numerous workshops (including disinfection).

Each alarm alerts the water rescue truck with at least four divers. For larger or longer-lasting situations, additional recreational divers may be alerted and a spare equipment truck, otherwise used for training and education purposes, may be used. Stefan Gobbin of the Dusseldorf Fire Department's Press Office: "Since commissioning in November 2017, the water rescue equipment truck has confidently been on duty 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Whether on or off-road - four divers always arrive safely with it at the operation site. We are pleased with the large amount of space. So in the rear of the vehicle we have an additional fast mission boat with an electric motor."

The central role

The special water rescue unit was launched in 1975 and today consists of 40 divers. Due to the large number of bodies of water in the area covered, it plays a central role in the Dusseldorf Fire Department: the Rhine crosses the city over a length of more than 42 kilometers and there are numerous tributaries as well as smaller and larger lakes. Within the scope of inter-municipal cooperation and supra-local assistance, the special unit is also requested to provide support with its specialist vehicle to neighboring districts and municipalities.

The Dusseldorf Fire Department's diving group completes about 100 operations per year. It rescues people and animals threatened with drowning, frees people who have fallen through ice or been trapped by flooding. It is also responsible for all technical operations on and under water. This includes, for example, lifting and retrieving objects (usually cars), clearing shipping channels, sealing leaks and securing operation sites on the water.