Puch Fire Department & St. Jakob Fire Brigade

Event tips & insights into the voluntary fire brigade in Salzburg

by Barbara / 20. April 2023 / Event / People

Feuerwehr├╝bung Floriani 2019 ┬ę FF Puch bei Hallein

Ta t├╝ ta ta the fire brigade is here!

You see them, you hear them, but what exactly do they do? We are talking about the volunteer fire brigades in Salzburgerland. You've probably heard a siren or seen a fire engine with blue lights flashing through the streets? You can't miss the brown uniforms of the fire brigade members at local marches. But how does one actually become a fireman or firewoman and how much free time is behind this "hobby"?

Have you ever thought about how a fire brigade works and what our fellow citizens take on who are on call day and night and sacrifice their free time for exercises, further training, etc.? The main thing is that the fire brigade comes when you need it! Very few people know the effort and passion that goes into it.

Feuerwehr├╝bung St. Jakob ┬ę LZ St. Jakob

What exactly a fire brigade does in Salzburg, what the history of the fire brigade in Puch is and why you should not miss the next events of the Puch Volunteer Fire Brigade and the St. Jakob am Thurn fire brigade, you will read in the next lines and see in the many pictures that I have collected together for you and have also taken myself for the most part. But first to the...

Facts, figures & tasks of the Salzburg fire brigades

The fire service in Salzburg is largely organised on the basis of volunteer fire brigades, which are provided on a voluntary basis by the local population. According to statistic more than 350,000 men and women throughout Austria are members of one of the 4,462 volunteer fire brigades and thus form a supporting pillar of the Austrian fire service. Compared to the thousands of volunteer fire brigade members, there are "only" 312 company fire brigades in the whole of Austria and 6 professional fire brigades in the capital cities of Vienna, Graz, Innsbruck, Klagenfurt, Linz and Salzburg.

The Salzburger Landesfeuerwehrgesetz defines the tasks as follows

"┬ž1, Para. 2: The fire brigades have the task of warding off dangers threatening the general public, individual persons or, on a larger scale, property or animals in the event of disasters and public emergencies of all kinds, in particular in the event of fires and accidents, as well as repairing damage that has arisen from such causes (deployment). The fire brigades are also responsible for making provision for such emergencies in accordance with the statutory provisions. The fire brigades may engage in activities to maintain the community necessary for their operational capability. They may also, in accordance with this Act, provide technical and personal services for which they are particularly well suited.

"Honour to God, defend your neighbour!

... this is the motto of the fire brigades. Here in the municipality of Puch, the Puch and St. Jakob fire brigades have over 100 firefighters on standby when the siren wails or the "beeper" sounds a silent alarm. In 2022, the two Puch fire brigades had more than 50 operations and a total of 8,858 hours of voluntary service.

Overview of members & volunteer hours in Puch bei Salzburg

Active members
Non-active members
Fire brigade youth
Hours per member
FF Puch
66 29 11 6.496 99
LZ St. Jakob
51 18 4 2.362 46
117 47 15 8.858 75

According to the local commander of the Puch fire brigade, HBI G├╝nter Fercher, "in 2022, the entire fire brigade spectrum was dealt with. When it comes to saving lives, averting damage, providing assistance and protecting the population of the municipality of Puch and its property, we as the Puch Volunteer Fire Brigade are on the spot quickly and around the clock". In the annual report he thanks not only the municipality of Puch and the dedicated team, but also "my deputy Dipl.-Ing. (FH) OBI Florian Hofmann and the platoon commander of the St. Jakob fire brigade BI Michael Sams. An equally big thank you goes to the platoon commanders, group commanders and functionaries (foremen, respiratory protection officer, secretary, treasurer, radio officer, equipment officer and the youth leaders) with their deputies for their many additional hours of service."

Rescue, extinguish, recover and protect - around the clock and voluntarily!

Whether it's a fire, a flood, a storm or a traffic accident, the volunteer fire brigade is ready around the clock - 24 hours a day, 365 days a year - to help people voluntarily and free of charge with great commitment. Our mayor of Puch Helmut Klose, who is himself a member of the FF Puch, explains to me how the fire brigades work here in Puch: "The fire brigade is a corporate body and is an institution of the municipality. The municipalities are obliged to finance fire brigades. Fire stations, vehicles, equipment, protective gear, etc. must be provided by the municipality. The men and women are members of the fire brigades voluntarily and without compensation."

All for the sake of volunteerism!

It takes a great deal of voluntary effort on the part of the entire team to carry out regular training in their spare time. Year after year, the team spends many thousands of voluntary hours in order to be able to go out into the field well-trained. In addition to the exercises, the team also has to attend courses at the regional fire brigade school, such as basic courses, respiratory protection training, machine operator courses and others, which means a lot of time for everyone!

Call for active service with the volunteer fire brigade: If you are 15 years or older, interested in helping your neighbour and would like to join the Puch volunteer fire brigade, come along or simply register via www.ff-puch.at!

Costs of the local fire brigades & fire brigades

"The costs for the municipality of Puch amount to about ÔéČ 200,000.00 per year for the running operation. This does not include investments such as the fire station, fire engine and other things," the mayor explains to me. He is therefore "very grateful that there is a very good cooperation between the municipality and the fire brigade with its fire engines and that there is a good climate!"

In addition to the volunteer fire brigade in Puch and the fire brigade in St. Jakob, the municipality also co-finances the fire brigade in Wiestal. Since the Vorderwiestal belongs to the municipality of Oberalm and the Hinterwiestal to the municipality of Puch, the Wiestal fire brigade is co-financed with 40%.

In principle, the fire brigades are independent, but they are still subordinate to the main fire brigade. The Wiestal fire brigade belongs to Oberalm and the St. Jakob fire brigade to Puch. Their deployment is always dependent on the alarm issued by the LAWZ (Landesalarm- und Warnzentrale) and the incident.

Every second counts!

When the siren goes off, it has to happen quickly. Then you see the men and women running through Puch or turning into the fire brigade by car and bicycle. Firefighters who live in Puch and also work in the village during the day are naturally the quickest on the spot! So it is a great advantage that the employees of the building yard of the municipality of Puch are also all members of the Puch Volunteer Fire Brigade. They mostly work in the local area and are quickly on the spot when there is an emergency!

Each fire brigade is independent and has to comply with the respective provincial laws and service regulations of the provincial fire brigade associations, which support the individual fire brigades in training and equipment and also prescribe service instructions as well as standards for equipment, clothing, etc. There is also a provincial fire brigade association in Salzburg. In Salzburg, for example, there is also a provincial fire brigade school that every fire brigade member can attend after basic training at the local fire brigade for additional courses and specialised courses to achieve promotion.

Regular fire drill!

On Wednesdays there is always light at the fire stations in Puch and St. Jakob. Because on this evening, according to the motto "practice makes perfect", the weekly drills for emergencies take place. Just like the training at the provincial fire brigade school, courses and competitions, exercises are also part of the necessary training of every firefighter

Feuerwehr├╝bung Brand Bauernhof ┬ę TVB Puch - Gerber

When an alarm is received by the members of the fire brigade, the various steps must be practised in order to enable a quick and, above all, effective response. As a standard, the drills take place every second Wednesday as general drills for the active team. On Wednesdays when there are no exercises, special training sessions are often organised, such as exercises for the vehicle mechanics or training for the competitions.

The St. Jakob fire brigade has also held one or two exercises at our home. In 2020, we practised a fire and the rescue of people in a smoky barn. The debriefing afterwards to discuss possible problems or improvements is a must.

Fire Brigade Competitions in Salzburg

Feuerwehrleistungsbewerb in Oberalm ┬ę FF Puch

To consolidate and test the acquired knowledge and practical skills, there is also the opportunity to participate in a variety of competitions. The firefighters in Puch and St. Jakob last took part in July 2022 at the provincial fire brigade performance competition in Oberalm, where they had to set up a suction point from a stream in the main discipline "fire fighting attack" and then attack with two laid hose lines. The focus is not only on the time, but also on the correct hand movements, because mistakes are added to the time as "extra points". The months of preparation and the participation in such competitions are part of the fire service, just like the regular practice.

Last year I took part in the internal wet competition of the Puch volunteer fire brigade, where 3 teams of active and non-active "firefighters" met to compete against each other. Although the fun and the internal power struggle were in the foreground, the competition also served the camaraderie as well as the athletic training and to consolidate the usual hand movements of the fire brigade during operations.

Nassbewerb FF Puch ┬ę TVB Puch - Gerber

Young firefighters - the start to becoming an active firefighter

The youth fire brigade in Salzburg makes an important contribution to securing the next generation of fire fighters. Through various events, competitions, knowledge tests and exercises, the community of children and young people at the fire brigade in Puch and the St. Jakob fire brigade ensures meaningful leisure time activities, fun with peers and acceptance into local club life. In addition, the fire brigade youth are prepared for active service in the volunteer fire brigade.

Join in! Motivated girls and boys are welcome to join the Puch fire brigade from the age of 10 and the St. Jakob fire brigade from the age of 12 at any time! If you are interested, simply contact the youth leaders of ther FF Puch or the FF L├Âschzug St. Jakob!

In 1973, Puch recognised the need for youth work at an early stage and founded the first fire brigade youth group in Puch. Officially, the St. Jakob fire brigade has also had a youth fire brigade since 2001.

How it all began - the history of the Puch fire brigades!

After recurring fires in Puch, the community no longer wanted to leave fire protection to chance. With the commissioning of a few men by the community to take over fire protection, the organised fire brigade system in Puch was born in 1882. In the same year, a mountain fire engine and 200 m of hoses were purchased by the community and a fire engine hut was built.

Zeugst├Ątte Puch 1957 ┬ę Ortschronik Puch

After the compulsory fire brigade had existed for 20 years, the official foundation of the Puch-Thurnberg volunteer fire brigade took place on 25 May 1902. The municipal council approved this foundation and passed the resolution to no longer leave fire protection in the municipality to the compulsory fire brigade and to chance. To this end, the fire-fighting equipment was transferred to the volunteer fire brigade, which was obliged to respond to fires and accidents. In its first year of existence, the Puch Fire Brigade already had 44 members! In 1960, a new arsenal was built, which was rebuilt and extended in 1987 and renovated again in 2008.

Mitglieder FF Puch 1935 ┬ę Ortschronik Puch, Leihgeber: Fam. Schweitl

St. Jakob Fire Brigade

On 15 February 1903, farsighted men in St. Jakob also took the decision to found a fire brigade, thus taking the first step towards organised fire and disaster protection on a voluntary basis in St. Jakob. As early as 7 June 1903, the ceremonial inauguration of a spray house took place, which was replaced in 1931 by a new fire station with more space for 2 pump trucks. In 1965, the construction of a new fire station was started and since 2008, the St. Jakob am Thurn fire brigade has shared the fire station with the clubhouse of the Jakobisch├╝tzen and the HFC St. Jakob, where there is also an exercise room for the St. Jakob primary school.

FF St. Jakob 1925 ┬ę Ortschronik Puch, Leihgabe Getrude Kermauner

For over 30 years there was an independent fire brigade in St. Jakob, which was incorporated into the Puch fire brigade as a fire brigade in 1935 due to a change in the law.

FF St. Jakob 1926 ┬ę Ortschronik Puch, Leihgeber: Gertrude Kermauner

The tasks and the demands on the fire brigade have changed almost completely in the past 120 years in Puch. While in the past it was mainly to fight the fire, the demands on the fire brigade have also changed with the unimagined technical developments and social changes in recent years. But so have the state-of-the-art equipment available to fire brigades today.

This makes the extensive training and exercises all the more important in order to be able to provide "assistance of all kinds". In addition, the fire brigade also costs money! The devices, equipment and clothing have to be paid for. In addition to the duty of the municipality to provide the fire brigades with equipment, the fire brigades also organise festivals, balls and also make house collections in order to organise one or the other equipment!

Events of the FF Puch & the fire brigade St. Jakob

As with all smaller villages, the fire brigades in our village are also a cultural and social institution. With their events they not only earn important money, but also shape the village and strengthen the feeling of togetherness. Here is a brief summary of the events that await you in the near future and which events you should not miss from the Pucher fire brigades:

Floriani exercise

Every year, the Puch fire brigade and the St. Jakob fire brigade invite you to a public demonstration exercise in Puch. All interested parties are invited to experience one of the regular fire brigade drills up close and see how it works in an emergency.

Schau├╝bung Floriani Puch ┬ę FF Puch - Emely Fercher

Last year, the exercise command was "Fire on the construction site of the old senior citizens' residence / missing persons / heavy smoke development" with which the emergency forces were called to Generationenweg by siren alarm. The Red Cross and the Hallein fire brigade's turntable ladder were also present.

This year, similar to 2019 at the car park of the municipality, a drill with a car accident will be held at the demonstration drill on Wednesday, 26 April 2023 at 7.00 pm in the Schulstra├če. The siren will sound the alarm at 7.10pm and OFK G├╝nter Fercher will comment on each step of the operation for spectators to gain a better insight into the fire service. Spectators are asked to be at the car parks/sidewalks between the scout home and the green cutting area by 7pm. The Schulstra├če will be closed for the duration of the exercise.

Floriani├╝bung 2019 Autounfall ┬ę FF Puch

St. Florian's Day Celebrations in Puch & St. Jakob am Thurn

In honour of St. Florian, who has his name day on 4 May and is considered the patron saint of fire brigades, St. Florian's Day celebrations are held in many places around this date in Salzburg province. After the procession to the festive mass and the service in the churches, the swearing-in ceremony, speeches and honours of deserving firefighters take place. In Puch at the car park of the Gasthof Kirchenwirt and in St. Jakob at the church square under the old Kaiserlinde. A commemoration of the dead comrades with the laying of wreaths takes place in St. Jakob before the festive mass and in Puch after church.

Florianifeier in St. Jakob ┬ę TVB Puch - Gerber

The fire brigades are looking forward to your visit! In Puch, the fire brigade invites you to the Florianifeier (St. Florian's Day) on Sunday, 30 April at 9.00 a.m. for a festive mass in the parish church. After the ceremony there will be a morning pint with the Puch music band at the Kirchenwirt.

In St. Jakob, the celebration of St. Florian takes place on 1 May, as it does every year. After the festive mass at 8.30 a.m. in the pilgrimage church of St. Jakob, the annual general meeting is held at the Sch├╝tzenwirt after the ceremony in front of the church.

Other church festivals & celebrations in the village

As a local body, the FF Puch takes part in the church festivities of the parish of Puch and the FF L├Âschzug St. Jakob in the celebrations of the parish of St. Jakob. In addition to Corpus Christi in May/June and the Harvest Festival in autumn, the parish of St. Jakob also celebrates Jakobikirtag at the end of July and the Peace Festival in Puch at the end of October, where the "firefighters" come out in their festive uniforms and with the sutlers. At smaller festivals, only the "flag delegation" with the fire brigade commander, 2 sutlers, the ensign with the flag and his two companions take part.

Morning pint of the St. Jakob fire brigade on Ascension Day

On the Ascension Day holiday - this year on Thu, 18 May - the St. Jakob am Thurn fire brigade traditionally invites you to a morning pint with cool drinks, hot barbecue, fire brigade bar and creamy cakes. The "Stimmungsbuam" will provide the atmosphere and for the first time this year there will be a classic car meeting of all makes and years of construction. The Puch Tourism Association supports the fire brigade in the children's programme with a bouncy castle!

Feuerwehr Fr├╝hschoppen St. Jakob ┬ę TVB Puch - Gerbrer

Opel-Blitz fire engine

The "OPEL-Blitz" Wehrmacht truck, built in 1942, which was used as a fire engine by the Puch fire brigade from 1954 to 1981, will also be at the classic car meeting. In 1998 it was restored true to the original. On 25 October 1998, the "OPEL-Blitz" had its first outing as a classic car at the "Oldtimertreffen - 100 Jahre Feuerwehrbezirk Tennengau" and in 1999 the vehicle was awarded the gold medal in the class built between 1950 and 1959 at the 13th International Fire Brigade Rally in Krumpendorf (Carinthia). In addition, the "OPEL-Blitz" was awarded the gold plaque as a historic fire brigade vehicle by CTIF in 2011.

Opel Blitz FF Puch - Foto: TVB Puch - Gerber

Registration! If you would like to take part in the classic car meeting, please contact Stefan Gimpl on +43 664 1674209 so that a place can be reserved for your vehicle for viewing.

Support the fire brigade in St. Jakob am Thurn, enjoy a few convivial hours at the Vereinshaus and come to the Feuerwehrfr├╝hschoppen!

Fire brigade ball on carnival Saturday

A highlight of the carnival season in Puch is the annual fire brigade ball on carnival Saturday. Hundreds of masked visitors provide the best atmosphere with live music, a big tombola and a mask award. Even carnival muffins are welcome :-)

Summer party 2022

Since 2 fire brigade balls at carnival time were cancelled due to corona, the "Summer Party of FF Puch" with a great supporting programme was brought to life for the first time last year.

Sommerfest Seifenkistenrennen FF Puch ┬ę Ribitsch

In addition to an old-timer meeting with historic fire engines, which went on a joint ride through the Wiestal and St. Jakob, and an atmospheric morning pint with Bojanska, the soapbox race was certainly the highlight of this successful open-air event. Perhaps there will be a sequel to this successful festival soon ­čśë

Light of Peace

For millions of people all over the world, the Light of Peace from the Grotto of the Nativity in Bethlehem has become a cherished Christmas tradition. Every year it also finds its way to Austria and is distributed to the population on Christmas Eve by the fire brigade youth of Puch & St. Jakob through the "Peace Light Campaign". In St. Jakob, the youths go from house to house and in Puch the Peace Light can be collected at the fire station during the joint "Waiting for the Christ Child" with game stations & food. Every year, the Peace Light Campaign supports numerous social projects throughout Austria.

Trara it burns, my heart and also my temper!

... This is the beginning of a well-known fire brigade song that is often sung by the fire fighters at the end of the day! As the daughter of a firefighter and a former temporary member of the St. Jakob fire brigade, I am not only very familiar with the song, but also enjoy attending the events organised by the Puch Fire Brigade and the St. Jakob fire brigade. But the best thing is to come and see for yourself and support the fire brigades here in Puch! I will show you some insights from the upcoming events with my photos and videos on Instagram under @visitpuch

Florianifeier L├Âschzug St. Jakob ┬ę TVB Puch - Gerber

We at the Puch Tourism Association would like to thank the Puch Volunteer Fire Brigade and the St. Jakob fire brigade for their voluntary work around the clock. Our chairman Christian Rettenbacher from Kirchenwirt is himself a member of the Puch fire brigade and knows "what a great & and above all voluntary service our fire brigades provide".

Support the fire brigades in Puch, come to the events in Puch and St. Jakob am Thurn and spend a few convivial hours in the village. You can get the latest information on operations and events from the Puch fire brigade at www.ff-puch.at, Instagram under @ffpuch and on Facebook.

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