Newly-designed Team Trainings Increase Cooperation and Effectiveness in Firefighting

The University of Bremen, the Universität zu Lübeck, and the Cologne Fire Department, supported by the German Social Accident Insurance, have developed a specialized team-training plan for fire safety courses. It is to be extended to regular fire safety courses throughout Germany.

“Accidents occur again and again during fire safety operations, as the fire department accident insurance companies report. In 2019, 39 percent of all fire departments’ accidents that were subject to mandatory reporting occurred as part of fire safety operations.  Problems in teamwork oftentrigger critical situations and accidents,” explains Professor Vera Hagemann from the University of Bremen. Together with Lena Heinemann from the University of Bremen, Professor Corinna Peifer and Fabienne Aust from the Universität zu Lübeck, and Maik Holtz from the Cologne Fire Department, she has developed a training course for fire safety and prevention to promote teamwork.

Greater Security through Better Team Communication

The goal is to improve teamwork processes in firefighting, especially within non-technical skills such as communication, coordination, decision-making, and leadership behavior, in order to reduce stress and increase safety in operational situations. At present, such target group-specific training elements are not systematically taken into account in fire safety training in Germany.

The need for such training was determined through extensive surveys and analyses. In a pilot phase, the training was successfully implemented with 90 trainees from the fire departments in Cologne and Frechen. On two days each, the non-technical skills mentioned were taught in various training groups and trained using practical exercises. The newly learned content could then be put into practice directly in short operational exercises. In addition, a procedure for debriefing after operations or operational exercises was designed, which, in addition to the technical aspects of an operation, also dealt with the interaction in the team. This was implemented to provide trainees the chance to reflect on teamwork processes and to develop possible suggestions for improvement.

Concept to Be Used Nationwide

The participants rated the training modules as very useful, especially in the area of communication. Initial indications of the effectiveness of the training could be found through detailed evaluations. In the final phase of the project, workshops were conducted with the Cologne fire department, volunteer fire departments, and on-site fire departments to integrate the training into regular fire safety training. In addition, a Germany-wide distribution of the training plan was initiated, supported by the freely available training manual. The project “Gemeinsam stark – Professionelles Teamtraining für mehr Sicherheit und weniger Stress in der Brandbekämpfung” (Strong together – professional team training for more safety and less stress in firefighting) was funded by the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV) for almost four years.

Further Information: (in German only)


Chair of Business Psychology and Human Resource Management
University of Bremen
Prof. Dr. Vera Hagemann
Phone: +49 421 218-66750
Email: vhagemannprotect me ?!uni-bremenprotect me ?!.de

Der Angriffstrupp bespricht das Vorgehen.
Der Angriffstrupp bespricht das Vorgehen.
Projekt Gemeinsam Stark: Nachbesprechung
Projekt Gemeinsam Stark: Nachbesprechung