International Fire Buyer Editor, Rebecca Spayne, sits down with Thomas Hilse, CEO at Magirus to discover the challenges that modern firefighters face
You have been CEO of Magirus since mid-2021. Magirus Firefighting vehicles are found all over the world. In some countries for over 100 years. What is the background to this success story?
I think you you can only succeed internationally if you have a constant history of supplying innovation, quality and solutions that really make a difference. We’ve been doing this since 1864. Even if when I travel, I suddenly notice a magirus ladder.
At Magirus we are the customer. Our employees are all firefighters so we understand the needs of the industry, and that is what the history of the company is based on. We are a symbiosis of customer and manufacturer who want to provide and have secure technology in the moments that matter most. I think this is the ultimate success of Magirus, that we have a very strong relationship and constant interaction with customers.
What developments and challenges do you see for the firefighters of today and in the coming years?
There are many new challenges to the modern day firefighter, and actually we are seeing a very slow reaction from the firefighting community to tackle those challenges.
Climate change is of course a big issue. I think in Northern Europe we assumed that it would never hit us, but we are seeing this now. For example in Germany recently we saw the driest month for decades. There were warnings on the radio to not go into the forests to prevent accidental fires. It’s very dangerous. We now see across Europe every summer now huge wildfires fires.
We will now be facing new realities around vegetation fire and that’s something many of us were not prepared for and even those who are prepared for it, the Southern European countries or let’s say California or so, it’s now a constant battle. It’s not a season anymore, it’s a constant fire. So, that’s a huge challenge we have as a community.
Similarly, we are not only seeing extreme dryness, but also extreme flooding. We had, for example, recently in middle Europe a huge catastrophe in Germany. These extreme conditions are something that is new to the portfolio firefighters.
Last, but not least, with the recent Ukraine situation, war is back on the agenda. It is forcing us to rethink about firefighting rescue operations.
All of this is a dramatic change from where we were ten years ago. As an industry, we can be slow at adopting innovation. My biggest fear is that the firefighting community is not fast enough at switching back into gear and embracing new technologies to tackle these new challenges. We need to be prepared.
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