Waldenbuch: always ready – even during working hours

Commander Christoph Adam has everything under control. Photo: private

The Waldenbuch-based chocolate manufacturer Ritter Sport has been recognized by the Baden-Wurttemberg Minister of the Interior, Thomas Strobl, as a “volunteer-friendly employer for civil protection”.

Waldenbuch – Admittedly, the fire engine used by the fire brigade in the Waldenbuch Ritter Sport factory has been out of fashion for a while from a purely visual point of view. But it has everything a fire brigade needs to extinguish it: hoses, pumps and ladders. And it is the pride of the 24 people in the factory guard. A few years ago they still had to transport their equipment by handcart – but that’s not a big problem on the manageable factory premises.

Otherwise, the rescuers are well equipped: with protective suits and breathing masks. The 24 members train together on a regular basis. And that sounds easier than it is. After all, they come from five different weirs in the area. “Each group has its own philosophy and approach. Bringing them together in a group so that it works, you have to practice ”, says Christoph Adam. He is fire chief and the commander of the Ritter Sport plant fire department. Wait, you can’t officially call them that – not anymore. A few years ago this was regulated by law. The rescuers are now officially working under the title "Plant Security Group."

Christoph Adam, who works in the logistics department at the chocolate manufacturer, became a member of the Waldenbuch youth fire brigade at the age of 15 and has been an active member of the local fire brigade since he was 18. In 2004 he joined the then fairly new works fire department at Ritter Sport.

It was founded by Georg Hoffmann, who is responsible at Ritter Sport as a safety engineer and environmental and sustainability manager. He quickly made contact with the local fire brigade and activated the fire fighters who worked at Ritter Sport. The plant security group began with twelve people. Today she has twice as many. From the beginning it was important to Hoffmann to integrate the company fire brigade into a larger network. He entered into cooperation with fire departments from the surrounding communities.

A few years ago the Waldenbuch security network was launched. All blue light organizations such as police and DRK are part of it, but also the city’s museums, the school and several companies, in addition to Ritter Sport, for example, the Haka factory. The fire brigade in the neighboring community of Steinenbronn is also part of it.

The aim of this bundling of aid organizations: In the event of a disaster, the affiliated organizations can contribute their know-how. Hoffmann gives an example: In the event of a major fire somewhere in Waldenbuch or Steinenbronn, Ritter Sport can make its canteen available to helpers as a break room. Of course, the works fire brigade would then also be deployed.

The factory security staff are already there in an emergency when rescuers are needed somewhere in the area – not only in the event of damage on their own premises. In addition, once a year there is a large-scale exercise by the network, in which the plant security group participates. And the employer Ritter Sport gives its employees plenty of free time for these tasks. Colleagues are also released from work to take part in training courses and advanced training.

For this commitment, Ritter Sport was recently recognized by the Baden-Wurttemberg Minister of the Interior, Thomas Strobl, as a “volunteer-friendly employer for civil protection”. "90 percent of all on-site assignments are shouldered by volunteers," said Strobl. But that only works "if employers release the voluntary civil protection forces from work whenever necessary."

After all, the employer also benefits from it. For example, when a fire broke out last year while removing a filter on the site of Ritter Sport. In a few minutes, Christoph Adam and his troop were at the scene of the fire – and put out the fire in no time at all.

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