When I’m on my annual home visit, my mum and I like to go out for evening walks together, strolling through the woods and fields surrounding The Village.
View from the southern edge of The Village: Fields, woods, and the snow capped Alps stretching across the horizon. Quiet, peaceful, restorative.
The air of tranquility was interrupted, however, when we happened across a group of firemen from the neighbouring village, fiercely engaged in a training exercise:
Aw, just look at them with their foam extinguishers and their gushing hoses…
The boys hard at work, decked out to the nines in their combat gear
On the way back home, there was a rather lovely sunset 🙂
Now, I’d just like to return to the firemen once more. These guys we bumped into were from a village less than two miles away, not much more than a hamlet populated by fewer than 300 souls. My village, which has a headcount of scarcely 700, not only has its own fire brigade, but sports this state-of-the-art fire station:
You may wonder how tiny Bavarian villages can afford all this.
Well, Bavaria is run by farmers. Rich farmers. They are conservative in their attitudes, but forward-thinking in their spending and planning, and they wield immense political power.
Village fire crews are volunteer organisations composed of, by and large, farmers and their sons. Farmers care very much about their barns catching fire in the dry late summer heat, and by the time a fleet of fire engines manned by a ‘professional’ salaried crew arrives from a a town 20 miles away, an entire farm might have gone up in flames.
In addition, being a member of the volunteer fire squad has a major social component to it: The boys go out drinking together, and they get to go away on training courses and ‘team building’ weekends. So, you see, there’s every incentive to be part of the gang, and there’s also plenty of community cash buy all the requisite toys.
[If you’ve missed my introductory post about The Village, here it is.]