In action for Hamburg: The Wattler family fire department

Hamburg. Got the “biggest birthday present ever”. Inga Wattler at night at 4.13. And it was not her husband Matthias’ loving kiss, but the shrill alarm signal from her beeps. A mission! Even the state of emergency, just in time for the 42nd birthday. She could not have done better, Wattler says. Your boss for Alsterdorf Volunteer Fire Brigade radio for support during the storm surge in February – just like when there is a heavy storm, rain or snow in Hamburg. “I was so happy,” says the mother of two children without a trace of irony, but with sparkling eyes.

Hamburg Volunteer Fire Department: The Wattler Family in Action

She has five minutes to get from her pajamas to her uniform, from her apartment to the police station. She has never been late, also because her apartment is almost within sight of the police station. To be on the safe side, she still takes the car out of the underground parking lot. She lives this profession next to her job at the district office north, likes the guard service, working in noise, wet, heat, cold and dirt.

While Noah, 5, and Ella, 8, continue to sleep, their mother bends down felled trees, clearing streets and wading through the mud in the storm. “That’s how I can help people,” she says, “you’re right there and you’re physically exhausted.” Gym? She does not go there. “Firefighters, that’s my hobby, now my passion.” After ten years of parental leave, she has returned and, above all, appreciates the time together at the police station, the cordiality combined with a raw tone. “This is our family.”

“Firefighters are my passion”

On summer weekends, sausages are grilled next to the fire truck, a friend is helped to move, and the children of the others are looked after. Everyone brings someone, the community is the star. Even with Wattlers. The couple stays together – at least until Pieper leaves. For not only does she have one, but so does he: Matthias Wattler is, so to speak, the military leader next door, at the Groß Borstel volunteer fire brigade, and has been there since 1994. “We have an agreement that whoever calls first the clock, must go, “says Wattler.



It is often only two or three minutes that determine who makes the school sandwich or who pulls the turntable ladder forward. “Because the children have to be taken to school, and of course it comes first.” Even if the other would like to be in the car himself.

Grandparents support the fire department family

At least that is the scenario if a serious weather situation is not announced. But if the Wattlers know that storms are imminent and that broadcasts are likely, the grandparents come into play: They are happy to support the fire department’s family and then take the kids the day before the afternoon. “On stormy nights, it’s a win-win situation,” says Matthias Wattler: His parents were happy with their grandchildren’s visit, the parents have a clear head, and the grandchildren enjoy the variety.

For him, by the way, it was a game night with a good friend, where Wattler witnessed a fire service effort at Möringbogen, right next to his home at the time. This, combined with the possibility of committing to civil protection for eight years instead of going to the Bundeswehr, really triggered his enthusiasm for the voluntary fire brigade.

In the “hardest time” they got to know each other

“Basic training is the hardest, but also the best time,” he says in hindsight. How to use the chainsaw What is a hydraulic cylinder? What do I need to know about fire safety and how do I provide first aid? These are themes from the beginning. “It’s not rocket science, but you are physically and mentally exhausted afterwards.” Because when the beeper goes, the volunteers have little information at the beginning. Something like “THK” then appears on the display of the black, rectangular device.


“This means that technical assistance is small, can mean ‘dog run away’ or ‘swan with a lame wing,'” says Inga Wattler. “FEUWA” means fire on the water, “TVNOT” means closed door, emergency. All operations are unsafe, “but we are not the American firefighters running into the burning house,” says Matthias Wattler. “We are concerned about safety and want everyone to return safely to our families.”

Both children are active in the mini fire department

The operations center decides whether one of the 86 volunteer fire brigades or the professional fire brigade is called in Hamburg. “The collaboration is now very good and professional,” Wattler says. Dealing with the experienced, issues like “fire cancer” and on-site hygiene are no longer taboo topics. There are many acute carcinogens in the flue gas – which is why an initiative to improve firefighters’ working conditions is called “fire cancer”. “There has been a massive rethinking. Today I can easily say if I have something to nibble on, suggest group discussions or talk to a priest. ”

Also because the volunteer fire department is currently modern and familiar, Wattlers are happy that their two children are active in the mini fire department, because unfortunately there are no offspring.

You can not only find a satisfying hobby in the fire department, but even the love of your life. Because where did Inga and Matthias actually meet? That’s right, with the fire department, right in their basic training. And who stood guard when they got married in the North District Office? Of course the fire department. Completely voluntary.

Updated: Tue, 05/04/2022, 05:58

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