The Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) is a governmental non-profit organisation (GO) under the auspices of the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI). Established as the governmental disaster relief organisation in 1950, THW has nowadays more than 80 000 volunteers (compared to only 2000 employees), whose tasks are defined by the “Act on the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW)”: Technical assistance in civil defence, Technical assistance as part of local hazard prevention when requested by the responsible partners (fire department, police and public security authorities), Technical assistance abroad on behalf of the Federal Republic of Germany.
The volunteers are based in the 668 local branches across Germany, which are self-organised by the volunteers and administered by 66 branch offices. The branch offices are led by eight regional offices and those are led again by THW Headquarters in Bonn. Equipped with modern equipment and well-trained relief-workers, THW assists at local, regional, national and international level. Search and rescue, flood protection. electricity supply, technical support of infrastructure, drinking water supply, command and communication, and logistics support are some of THW’s operational capacities. On a daily base, THW takes on the challenge of keeping up with the vast and constant technological advancements. It aims at assembling its units to meet current civil protection needs based on state-of-the-art knowledge.
Regarding international activities, a central database of THW staff, qualified and available for missions abroad as well as, pre-defined units and modules and a logistics centre especially for missions abroad serve as key elements for rapid international deployment. A close cooperation on bilateral level as well as in the framework of the United Nations and the European Union are essential for THW’s daily work. Since the beginning of the Union Civil Protection Mechanism, THW plays an active role in the implementation of the Mechanism. A number of experts and modules are registered in CECIS and the European Civil Protection pool and available for operations abroad: 1 HUSAR module, 3 WP modules, 8 HCP modules, 1 FRB module, 1 TAST with different components, 1 Standing Engineering Capacity.
Planning, managing and conducting complex projects in different areas (short- and long-term missions, capacity development, development of concepts, trainings, exercises etc.) with budgets of different origins (German Ministries, EU, UN etc.) are part of THW’s international engagement and daily work.