Firefighters rescuing residents from flooding in Slovenia. Photo credit: Fire service of Mengeš.
14 Feb 2024

34,000 more operations in Austria in 2023 - Climate Change is showing its effects


 In order to cope, we need not only a strong membership structure, but also complementary training formats, technical and tactical innovations and sustainable financing.

Robert Meyer, Fire Brigade President of Austria


Austria's fire brigades were challenged again in 2023: around 34,000 more - mainly technical - operations were documented last year. The storm operations, which led to weeks of operations in many federal states, were particularly crucial.


Membership trend

Fortunately, the year 2023 brought another increase in members for the Austrian fire departments. According to the statistics now available, there are currently 353,798 fire brigade members in Austria (+3,515 compared to 2022).

 Even if the number of active members has fallen slightly to 257,722 (-1,283 compared to 2022), the fire brigade youth make up for this: with an increase of 2,527 to a total of 36,302 girls and boys, it is clear that the interest in the fire brigade among young people between 10 and 16 years remains unbroken and continues to rise. 

The reserve level also recorded an increase of 2,271 members in 2023, rising to 59,774. This also partly explains the above-mentioned decline in active service, as some fire brigade members have obviously moved to reserve status due to their age. Around 99% of fire brigade members in Austria still perform their service on a voluntary basis, i.e. without pay.

“I am very pleased that our young talent is growing so strongly and continuously. This means planning security, because the challenges are increasing, as are the deployments, both in terms of number and complexity. “With strong youth firefighters, we can look to the future with hope,” said Fire Department President Robert Mayer.

The proportion of women in the Austrian fire departments has also increased again: with an increase of 2,703 girls and women to a total of 33,629, they now make up 9.5% of the total team in the fire service. 

Even if this number is definitely still too small and can be expanded, the positive trend of the last few years continues. Since 2008, the number of female fire brigade members (girls and women) has increased by 170%.

The number of fire departments in Austria has been reduced by six and currently stands at 4,774 (4,455 volunteer fire departments and two volunteer fire departments at universities, 313 company fire departments, six professional fire departments).


A year of extreme weather

In total, the Austrian fire departments recorded 278,495 operations in the 2023 reporting year, 212,141 were technical operations (traffic accidents, storm events, floods, pollutant releases, etc.), and 66,354 were fire operations. In total, that was around 34,000 more operations than in 2022 (+ 31,935 technical operations and + 2,200 fire operations compared to 2022).

If you take a closer look at the technical operations, the storm operations in particular stand out: While the Austrian fire brigades recorded a total of 27,440 storm operations in 2022 (pumping out work, wind breaks and storm damage, snow load, etc.), there were more than twice as many in 2023 , specifically a total of 57,527.

Fire Department President Robert Mayer

“The severe weather events have struck numerous regions of our country particularly hard last year. The suffering and concern of many people is concerning. Our fire brigade members were particularly challenged physically and mentally during these operations. If the forecasts are taken seriously, the challenges posed by such elementary events will continue to increase. This development, combined with the complexity, dimensions and rapid mechanization,will come to place special demands on the fire service in Austria. In order to cope, we need not only a strong membership structure, but also complementary training formats, technical and tactical innovations and sustainable financing.”


Impressive rescue numbers for both humans and animals

The numbers of people and animals rescued are particularly impressive: in 2023, 9,354 people and 7,010 animals were rescued by the Austrian fire departments (excluding information from Vienna and Vorarlberg).

“Fire departments form an essential part of the security landscape in Austria. With constantly changing requirements for the fire service and socio-political changes, we need a special focus on the people in our organization, without whom not a single operation could be carried out. Volunteering without pay and at the expense of free time or working hours is essential to keeping our fire service system in Austria at this professional level".


Statistics 2023


 “I would like to thank all fire brigade members for their commitment, as well as their relatives and employers for their understanding and accommodation so that our firefighters can do their service to others” 

Fire Brigade President Robert Mayer




Cover Photo Credit: Firefighters rescuing residents from flooding in nearby Slovenia. Photo credit: Fire Service of Mengeš.