Compulsory fire service

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A compulsory fire service is a mandatory service for the local fire departments in Switzerland in general and in Austria and Germany in exceptional cases as well. Private individuals can be compelled to participate in such a fire service in specific circumstances. In Singapore conscripts are deployed as fire fighters when serving in the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).

In Switzerland this mandatory fire service is common and required in most regions. In Austria and Germany compulsory fire services only exist when a volunteer fire department cannot be pursued due to a lack of personnel or other unavailability, meaning that fire protection cannot be guaranteed 24/7. All appropriate persons can be drafted to the compulsory fire service if they are needed.

Legal situationEdit

Member States (green) of the Convention. ILO members that did not ratify are shown in red

The draft for a compulsory fire service is an exception of the Forced Labour Convention of 1930 of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and therefore unfree labour shall not include:[1]


In history, a very high number of the Austrian-Hungarian fire services were compulsory fire brigades and the basis for the present-day volunteer fire departments (German: Freiwillige Feuerwehr) in Austria. In theory, drafts for the local fire services are feasible, but not executed since centuries. The legislation differs from state to state:[2]

  • Burgenland: legal basis for drafts abolished in 2019
  • Carinthia: drafts for a so called "fire protection service" (German: Brandschutzdienst / Brandschutzdienstpflicht) is possible
  • Lower Austria: legal basis for drafts abolished in 2000
  • Salzburg: drafts for fire services are legal, if no professional or volunteer fire service exists or has insufficient manpower
  • Styria: legal basis for drafts in state legislation
  • Tyrol: municipal councils can order conscription for the fire service for male citizens between the age of 18 and 50, there are exceptions for state and federal officials, members of transport and public utility companies and clerics of all confessions as well.[3]
  • Upper Austria: legal basis for drafts abolished in 2015
  • Vienna: professional fire department, no drafts for fire service required
  • Vorarlberg: drafts for fire services is possible, if volunteers are short-handed. The mayor can draft only male citizens of the age between 18 and 60 of the municipality. Only the house owners can be drafted and younger citizens should be preferred to be drafted. There are several exceptions for state officials, soldiers, police officers and clerics as well.


Similar to the historical development in Austria, compulsory fire services (German: Pflichtfeuerwehr) are the precursors of the volunteer fire brigades (German: Freiwillige Feuerwehr) in Germany. Depending on the state's legislation, drafts are executed in a few municipalities. These municipal fire brigades drafted conscript fire fighters:


In Singapore the National Service is a statutory requirement[6] for all male Singaporean citizens and second-generation permanent residents to undergo a period of compulsory service in the uniformed services. Depending on physical and medical fitness, they serve a two-year period as National Servicemen Full-time (NSFs), either in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), the Singapore Police Force (SPF) or the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), which provides the fire-fighting services in Singapore.[7]


Form of organization of the Militia Fire BrigadesEdit

In Switzerland, it is common for compulsory fire service duty to be required of both men and women, whether or not they are Swiss. Most fire services in Switzerland are so called Militia Fire Brigades (Miliz-Feuerwehr). Militia firefighters normally pursue other professions, and have active duty only during exercises and missions. In the case of an emergency, the first response is completed by a group of specially-trained police officers. The militia fire brigade arrives as soon as possible. In special situations (major events, demonstrations, etc.) the fire brigade provides a standby service. Currently 95,000 men and women serve as firefighters in 1,500 fire brigades (Feuerwehrkorps). Only 1,200 of them are professional firefighters, organised as plant fire brigades or a unit of a larger city.[8]


Exceptions include for example, the canton of Zurich, and in all places where professional fire brigades exist. If a fire brigade cannot find enough volunteers, it can carry out forced recruitment. These drafts are not popular, because the recruited firefighters are generally less motivated. Anyone who rejects service must pay a fire service exemption tax.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Convention C029 - Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29)".
  2. ^ States of Austria
  3. ^ "Pflichtfeuerwehren als letzter Ausweg bei Mitgliederschwund? - der Österreichische Gemeindebund".
  4. ^ "Personalmangel: Pflicht-Feuerwehr für Friedrichstadt |".
  5. ^ " - das Beste am Norden - Radio - Fernsehen - Nachrichten".
  6. ^ "Enlistment Act (Chapter 93)". Singapore Statutes Online.
  7. ^ "SCDF Website - GENERAL: About Us". Archived from the original on 2016-12-28. Retrieved 2018-08-28.
  8. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-01-28. Retrieved 2016-08-23.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External linksEdit