Fighting fire with fire

Fighting fire with fire

With a legacy dating back to 1864, Iveco Magirus produces some of the most technologically advanced firefighting vehicles in the world. Here’s a look at several recent happenings at this world-leading vehicle builder

The hot and smoky world of firefighting is made up of some remarkable components. From the specialised vehicles and equipment, to the brave souls who risk their own lives for the safety and well-being of others, this noble, gritty, yet high-tech profession is one that often
goes unnoticed.

Iveco Magirus, though, has taken firefighting to some pretty amazing heights lately. Of course, this could be expected from one of the world’s leaders in firefighting vehicle design and manufacture. However, this recent activity has not been a narrow-minded, vehicle-centred approach – but rather, one that places those who really matter at its core.  

The Magirus Dragon X6 and Super Impact models are two of the company’s flagship products.It all began over 18 months ago, when Iveco decided to move its Stralis assembly line from Ulm, Germany, to Madrid, Spain.
The Ulm plant underwent a radical restructuring programme and, following a €30 million (R439 million) investment, is now a Centre of Excellence. This means Magirus now has competence centres in Ulm; Keinbach, Austria; and Chambery, France.

This competence centre, though, also offers a customer training centre; assembly lines (which it already had) for turntable ladders and pumper vehicles and test and homologation facilities. Visitors to the centre are also treated to a magnificent showcase of historical vehicles from the almost 150-year history of Magirus – a fascinating addition to complement the Centre of Excellence!

And the company is intent on following through with the training it provides, with the creation, two years ago, of the Conrad Dietrich Magirus Award for the best firefighting crew in the world.

Magirus is acknowledged as one of the world’s greatest firefighters. He founded one of Germany’s first voluntary fire services in Ulm in 1846, as well as founding the Magirus company itself.

With his technical ideas, such as the much-admired “Ulmer Ladder”, he revolutionised firefighting techniques well beyond the 19th century and contributed to an enormous improvement in firefighting and emergency management in Germany, and throughout Europe, within a few decades.

The competition rewards the selfless service of firemen and firewomen from 193 countries worldwide; the winners receiving an action-packed, once-in-a-lifetime trip to visit probably the most famous, and definitely largest, city fire service in the world – the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY).

“Many firefighters see their work not as a profession, but as a calling. They pay a high price for their commitment – countless hours of the day and night on duty, hard everyday work and high risk,” says Antonio Benedetti, managing director of Iveco Magirus. “Nevertheless, they do not always receive the recognition they really deserve. The international Conrad Dietrich Magirus Award wants to change this.”

On November 22, 2013, the best three fire service crews were invited to the award ceremony in Ulm, where the Italian team took top honours. Entries for this year’s competition are already being accepted, and we’re burning to find out which team takes the prize.

Facinating fire-fighting vehicles from the company’s 150-year history are on display at the Ulm Centre of Excellence.Naturally, if the teams are making use of Iveco Magirus vehicles, the task will be made that much easier. The company has engineered a range of innovative equipment to simplify the task of tackling a fire.

For example, Magirus Direct Entry is a “direct access in-front-of-cab” system that allows articulated turntable ladders to automatically lower the rescue cage in front of the cab. This function was previously undertaken at the main operator control station at the rescue cage, after a firefighter had climbed over the lateral ascents, onto the ladder and into the cage.

A simple push of a button, at the front of the cab, is all that’s required for quick and easy access.

Once above the ground, faced with the prospect of entering a burning building from an upper level, taking cognisance of safety at heights might not be at the top of a firefighter’s thoughts. It is thus that all Magirus turntable ladders are now equipped with certified anchor points for rope rescue and fall protection: two on the top ladder section and two on the turret, for belaying up to two persons, or a static load of up to 500 kg.

In cooperation with high-angle rescue workers, the company also developed the Magirus Safety Peak – an optional cage-mounted attachment bar that offers two anchor points, which can easily be operated from inside the rescue cage that, itself, can belay up to two persons, or a static load of up to 300 kg.

It’s easy to see why the company has remained at the top of the firefighting ladder for 150 years, and will be anchored in safely for the foreseeable future.


As regular readers of FOCUS know, this magazine has been appointed an associate member of the International Truck of the Year (IToY)! FOCUS is the sole South African magazine to have joined this prestigious body. One of the advantages of this association is access to exclusive articles, specially written for FOCUS by ITOY jury members. This is one such article.

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