Compulsory Fire Service

A Compulsory Fire Service is a public organization that is part of the fire department in Switzerland and in exceptional cases in Germany as well. Private individuals can be compelled to participate in such a fire service in specific circumstances. In Singapore conscripts are deployed as fire fighters when serving in the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).

In Switzerland this mandatory fire service is common and required in most regions. The German Compulsory Fire Service only exists when a Volunteer Fire Department cannot be pursued due to a lack of personnel or other unavailability, meaning that fire protection cannot be guaranteed 24/7. All appropriate persons can be drafted to the compulsory fire service if they are needed.


Following municipal fire brigades drafted conscript fire fighters in Germany:


In Singapore the National Service is a statutory requirement[3] for all male Singaporean citizens and second-generation permanent residents to undergo a period of compulsory service in the uniformed services. Depending on physical and medical fitness, they serve a two-year period as National Servicemen Full-time (NSFs), either in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), the Singapore Police Force (SPF) or the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), which provides the fire-fighting services in Singapore.[4]


Form of Organization of the Militia Fire Brigades

In Switzerland, it is common for compulsory fire service duty to be required of both men and women, whether or not they are Swiss. Most fire services in Switzerland are so called Militia Fire Brigades (Miliz-Feuerwehr). Militia firefighters normally pursue other professions, and have active duty only during exercises and missions. In the case of an emergency, the first response is completed by a group of specially-trained police officers. The militia fire brigade arrives as soon as possible. In special situations (major events, demonstrations, etc.) the fire brigade provides a standby service. Currently 95.000 men and women serve as firefighters in 1.500 fire brigades (Feuerwehrkorps), Only 1.200 of them are professional firefighters, organized as plant fire brigades or a unit of a larger city.[5]


Exceptions include for example, the canton of Zurich, and in all places where professional fire brigades exist. If a fire brigade cannot find enough volunteers, it can carry out forced recruitment. These drafts are not popular, because the recruited firefighters are generally less motivated. Anyone who rejects service must pay a fire service exemption tax.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^,pflichtfeuerwehr104.html
  3. ^ "Enlistment Act (Chapter 93)". Singapore Statutes Online.
  4. ^ SCDF Website - GENERAL: About Us
  5. ^

External links

Conscription in Germany

The Federal Republic of Germany had conscription (Wehrpflicht) for male citizens between 1956 and 2011. On 22 November 2010, the German Minister of Defence proposed to the government to put conscription into abeyance on 1 July 2011. The constitution, however, retains provisions that would legalize the potential reintroduction of conscription.

The Grundgesetz (Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany) and several special laws (e.g., Wehrpflichtgesetz) were regulating these duties and the exceptions.

During the last year when conscription was active, men were obliged to serve six months either in the military, which they could refuse, and do alternative civilian service, or honorary service (like any volunteer) for at least six months in a civil protection organisation.

Families of those who were oppressed by the Nazi regime (usually Jews) were exempted from conscription, though a small number volunteered to serve. Although conscription was of a military nature, in the last days of conscription twice as many draftees refused military service and served in alternative services. Women were not subject to conscription. They could join the military as volunteers.

Geography of firefighting

As firefighting has a rich history throughout the world, traditions in this profession vary widely from country to country.

German fire services

The Feuerwehr (German: fire defence) is a number of German fire departments. The responsible bodies for operating and equipping fire departments are the German communities ("Gemeinden") and cities ("Städte"). By law, they are required to operate fire-fighting forces. In cities, this is usually performed by the Fire Prevention Bureau, one of the higher-ranking authorities.

There are three kinds of recruiting fire fighters in Germany: the predominant number of Germany's 1,383,730 fire fighters are members of voluntary fire brigades (Freiwillige Feuerwehr), a lesser number working in professional fire brigades and at least the drafted members of a Compulsory Fire Service (Pflichtfeuerwehr), established just in a few places nationwide.

Professional fire brigades are usually operated as

Berufsfeuerwehr (professional fire station or brigade) of a municipal body, such as the city of Berlin as a full-time city department

Werkfeuerwehr (plant fire station or brigade) of a larger company, for the needs of the company operating them by law e.g. refineries or chemical industry production facilities

Betriebsfeuerwehr (factory fire station or brigade) of a larger company, that does not need to run a Werkfeuerwehr by law, but if it is required for the insurance coverage

Flughafenfeuerwehr (airport fire station or brigade) as airports have to meet the ICAO requirements, this includes airplane factories like that of Airbus in Hamburg)

Bundeswehr-Feuerwehr (armed forces fire station or brigade) with specialized divisions such as Fliegerhorstfeuerwehr Cologne-Wahn located at German air force bases, military bases, naval bases as well as on any ship of the German NavyBy law, cities with a population of more than 80,000–100,000 people (depending on the state) are required to have a professional fire-fighting force ("Berufsfeuerwehr"). Others such as smaller cities and towns can set up a full-time force ("Hauptamtliche Wachbereitschaft"), which is basically a group or a squadron occupying one large fire station around the clock. This force deals with smaller incidents on its own and is supported by voluntary forces for larger incidents. Each community meets the need of fire-fighting personnel by setting up a voluntary force ("Freiwillige Feuerwehr"). A community or a city may also set up a professional fire fighting force without additional volunteer forces. In case it is not possible to recruit enough personnel for this job, the mayor of a city is required to set up a "Pflichtfeuerwehr" (compulsory fire brigade), where he will draft the number of personnel required.

Hand and Tension Services

In Germany Hand and tension services (German: Hand- und Spanndienste) are allowed and possilbe by law in some German States. Although it is still valid legislation, no municipal administration since WWII used this possilbe mandatory workforce yet, if at all, this obligatory service only will be executed during or after a severe disaster.

Singapore Civil Defence Force

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (abbreviation: SCDF; Malay: Pasukan Pertahanan Awam Singapura; Chinese: 新加坡民防部队; Tamil: சிங்கப்பூர் குடிமைத் தற்காப்புப் படை) is the main agency in charge of the provision of emergency services in Singapore during peacetime and emergency.

A uniformed organisation under the purview of the Ministry of Home Affairs, the main role of SCDF is to provide fire-fighting, rescue and emergency ambulance services; mitigating hazardous materials incidents, as well as formulate, implement and enforce regulations on fire safety and civil defence shelter matters. It also plays a major role in the Republic's disaster relief operations. SCDF was classified as a heavy urban search and rescue (USAR) team by INSARAG on 18 January 2009, the highest level possible for any USAR team.

Volunteer fire department

A volunteer fire department (VFD) is a fire department composed of volunteers who perform fire suppression and other related emergency services for a local jurisdiction.

Volunteer firefighters contrast with career firefighters, who work full-time and receive a full salary. Some volunteer firefighters may be part of a combination fire department that employs both full-time and volunteer firefighters.In some communities, the definition of a volunteer firefighter includes those who receive no pay for being on call and/or attending emergencies, known in other countries as "retained" firefighters. Volunteer and retained firefighters are expected to be on call to respond to emergency calls for long periods of time, and are summoned to the fire station when their services are needed. They are also expected to attend other non-emergency duties as well (training, fundraising, equipment maintenance, etc.).

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