English

No time for hesitation.

Off-road capability and robustness make the G-Class a convincing fire-fighting vehicle.

"This is what heroes look like", says Mark Gößler with a wink, referring to the lined-up emergency vehicles in the hall of the Graz Professional Fire Brigade – and also a little to himself and his colleague Andreas Cretnik. And it has to be said: That is true. When the firefighters talk about their daily routine, it quickly becomes clear that man and machine always give their all for the community. Of course, cooperation in dangerous emergency situations works best when people have known each other for a long time, Mark Gößler relates. The best example: His joint rides with Andreas Cretnik on the special-purpose vehicle for hazardous materials operations – a Puch G, which has already been in service with the fire brigade for 30 years.

 

Reliably durable.

Its long service life, which makes the vehicle particularly economical, is just one of the many advantages that Fire Chief Mark Gößler and Senior Fire Officer Andreas Cretnik list with regard to the Puch G. It is a G-Class from Mercedes-Benz, which was sold in Austria, Switzerland and some other regions as the Puch G until the year 2000.

The angular off-road vehicle from the 300 series with a 6-cylinder engine, 3-litre displacement and around 100 hp also scores points above all with its impressive off-road capability and compact dimensions. "When we head out, we never know exactly what is waiting for us", Andreas Cretnik reports. As the driver, he is responsible for covering the distance to the site quickly and safely. He particularly enjoys driving the G. "Because this vehicle can be relied on. Although the Graz city area is generally flat, it still happens from time to time that we are off the paved roads or have narrow passages. Where other vehicles have to capitulate or go around, we practically always keep going with the G – an important factor in our profession, where sometimes every second counts".

Also an advantage: the G’s front and rear locking differentials and its disengageable anti-lock braking system (ABS). "For full flexibility", Andreas Cretnik sums up.

Always in action where it is needed.

The Puch G was purchased by the Graz Professional Fire Brigade in 1991. The vehicle was used as a command vehicle until 2008. However, instead of being retired like other vehicles with a similar period of service, the G-Class started a second career. Converted by a specialist company, it became a measuring vehicle for pollutant missions.

A very responsible task, as Mark Gößler describes. "Several times a month, we are called because there might be pollutants leaking", explains the 52-year-old. "Then we move out with the Puch G, which has all kinds of measuring technology and analysis equipment on board. In such operations it is very important that we arrive quickly and work accurately, because we need to know quickly what we are dealing with in order to be able to take appropriate action. There is no time for delays".

[Translate to en:] Quelle: Berufsfeuerwehr Graz
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In addition to operational speed, the constant readiness of vehicles is also important for the fire brigade. Normal service and repair work is usually done by the firefighters themselves. "And with the G, it’s particularly easy, because everything is easily accessible", says Andreas Cretnik. "This saves us time and so the vehicle is quickly ready again in the garage". However, the G-Class has never needed a major repair - and that in its entire 30 years of service.

 

I can’t remember any major repair that was ever necessary on our G.

Andreas Cretnik, Senior Fire Officer, Graz Professional Fire Brigade

Because of its equipment, the specialised vehicle is also in demand beyond the actual geographical jurisdictional boundaries of the Graz Professional Fire Brigade. "In our G, for example, there is a special measuring device of which there are only available two in all of Styria", explains Mark Gößler. "That’s why the support of our hazardous materials base is repeatedly requested by forces outside the state capital".

The odometer of the Puch G currently shows about 115,000 km. "Even for a fire-fighting vehicle, that’s quite a lot", Andreas Cretnik puts this figure into perspective. "After all, we generally only drive short distances". This six-digit kilometre reading can therefore be used to gauge the operational strength of the G, which firefighters rely on time and again.

Good feeling with the G.

Being able to rely on each other is one of the most important prerequisites for emergency forces. And vehicles are not exempt from this principle. "I’ve known the G for a long time now", says driver Andreas Cretnik, who has been with the Graz fire brigade since 2013, "but even if that wasn’t the case, I’m sure I’d get on very well with it. Because the G’s operation is intuitive, its cockpit tidy, the interior spacious enough for protective equipment".

All of this relieves the pressure on the fire brigade, whose work is strenuous enough. Mark Gößler’s alarm clock rings at 04:32 on a normal working day. He together with Andreas Cretnik and around 220 other firefighters works in the fire service of the Graz Professional Fire Brigade; they are called out between 5000 and 6000 times a year on average.

 

When asked why they chose this job, the fire chief and the senior fire fighter know only one answer: "We want to help people in need". That lets them go home with a good feeling after a 24-hour shift. The G and the Graz fire brigade: quite heroic.

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