Operation Berlin – Prospects for Young People
in the Fire Department

The Berlin Fire Department is striving to increase the number of immigrants among its employees, and because of this, an interesting field of work for immigrants becomes accessible. The Fire Department gains valuable potential because multicultural teams can optimize operations, based on their language skills and their cultural understanding.

 “We have now made the multi-stage training scheme we had tested under the OPERATION BERLIN project part of our regular training schemes. This way, we can offer motivated young people an attractive start to a career at the fire service right after they’ve received their school-leaving certificate at the end of 10th grade. Without BGZ we would not have been able to do that. They showed us new methods and helped us to make the best use of these with their support in project management, vocational training, intercultural expertise, and experience in integration. We can well imagine cooperating with them on other projects, too.”

Harald Herweg, Head of training and continuing education and project leader at the Berlin Fire and Rescue Academy

“Operation Berlin“ had the task of testing an additional possibility of access to the Berlin Fire Department: Multi-phase training. School leavers with an intermediate secondary school leaving certificate, but without a completed vocational education, will be trained as fire-fighters for the fire service (fire officer). The innovative aspect is that no skilled trade certificate is needed – normally obligatory for the traditional application. The actual fire-fighter training (level 2) is preceded by a tailor-made 18-month basic skilled-craft training (level 1), which combines modules from various skilled trades.

 “The BGZ provided me with extensive information about the job and helped me greatly during the selection process. I now have an apprenticeship training position in my dream job.”

Onur San, participant in the “Operation Berlin” project

With the BGZ responsible, a fundamental concept for the development of public relations and networking has been agreed. An extensive network of autonomous migrant organisations and institutions, whose focus groups are immigrants, has been developed step by step. As future authority, the Berlin Fire Department was involved from the very beginning, particularly in the mentor programme and the execution of the selection process. The Berlin Chamber of Small Business and Skilled Crafts (HWK) is responsible for the 18-month basic skilled-craft training in three runs with certified modules of the HWK in the areas of woodwork, metalwork, electronics and plumbing and automotive – including internships – as well as for additional German, mathematics and physical education classes. A strategic advisory Board supports the project implementation.

The basic skilled-craft training has passed its probation. From 1st September, 2012, “Operation Berlin“ will be integrated into the regular operation of the Berlin Fire Department as a multi-phase training scheme. You can find further information on the Berlin Fire Department website, under 112 Direkt

Young people without vocational education can now start training for the fire service through the multi-phase training scheme. The Berlin Senate consequently changed the legal requirements for the fire service regulation in June 2009.

 “Projects aimed at integrating people with an immigrant background into the labor market are a priority among BGZ’s activities. For example, the project “Operation Berlin – Job prospects for young people at the Berlin Fire Department” made young people with an immigrant background curious about jobs at the Berlin Fire Department, and many decided to apply for the training program to become firefighters. Education and training are essential to the integration into society of young people with an immigrant background. As a politician responsible for education policy, this is very important to me. This is why I appreciate the work of BGZ so much, and I would like to wish them continued success, a lot of energy, and a lot of stamina in their meaningful and important work.”

Özcan Mutlu, education spokesman of Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen (the Green Party) in the Berlin House of Representatives

 “Thanks to the support of the BGZ team, I was able to prepare very well for the individual tests. We could always count on them when it came to questions or problems. In addition, I appreciate the support the BGZ offers immigrants. In my opinion, it’s extremely important that more of us find work in the Fire Department.”

Malek Rusch, participant in the “Operation Berlin” project

Project photos


Merhaba, April 2011
Berufsausbildung als Brandmeister
Schadenprisma, March 2011
Pilotprojekt erprobt zusätzlichen Zugangsweg
Der Tagesspiegel, August 2010
Rendezvous mit dem Personalchef
RBBonline Nachrichten, August 2010
Azubi-Speed-Dating in Berlin
Berliner Kurier, August 2010
Speed-Dating für Jungs ohne Job
BBH, May 2010
Berliner Feuerwehr will mehr junge Migranten ausbilden
Hürriyet, March 2010
Berliner Feuerwehr sucht junge Menschen mit Migrationshintergrund
Back to project overview


Implemented in:



2009 – 2013

Berlin partners:

Berlin Fire Department, Chamber of Small Business and Skilled Crafts

Project website:



Dr. Hilde Hansen


State of Berlin, Senate Department of the Interior and Sport

This project has been funded by the State of Berlin – Senate Department for Interior and Sport – and coordinated by the BGZ Berlin International Cooperation Agency GmbH in cooperation with the Berlin Fire Department, Press and Public Relations Headquarters and Berlin Chamber of Small Business and Skilled Crafts.