Communities demanded too much for rescue effort

No, it is not self-evident that the 69-year-old plaintiff is still alive at all and will be able to appear before the administrative court in bayreuth on tuesday. It was only thanks to his good physical condition that he was able to free himself from his car, which crashed on the 14th floor. January 2011 early in the morning sank in the rough tide near burghaig. "Chest high was the water", he remembers "and the saving shore 200 meters away." He successfully fights against the floods and – slightly undercooled – brings himself to safety.

Passers-by watch what happens in the dark at seven o'clock in the morning: the mercedes on the flooded theodor-heuss-allee is driven away by the force of the water towards the west, towards weinbrucke. You alert the police and report that "persons" are in the water in the car are. Rescue forces of the kulmbach and the mainleuser fire-brigade jerk out.

The man should pay for the rescue operation. Although he is able to free himself, he receives bills from the city of kulmbach for 2230.50 euros and from the market in mainleus for 586.50 euros.

The costs appear to be too high for him, the duration of the operation of two hours much too long. The man goes to the administrative court with his lawyer ulrich godde, mainleus.

Short stints
The case lies with the 2. Chamber. Their chairman, vice-president gerd lederer, has concerns about the deployment times. He calculates for the city's lawyer, diana edelmann, as well as for the head of the mainleus administration, ottokar reb, and the market's lawyer, karl-friedrich hacker from bayreuth, that it took only one and a half hours for the kulmbach fire department to get the job done. And at the mainleuser fire department even only one hour. This also reduces the costs – by 863.03 euros: 1648.82 euros can be demanded by the city, 306.15 euros by the market mainleus. Together 1954, 97 euro.

A sum that the plaintiff must also pay. The presiding judge leaves no doubt about it. In the opinion of the court, the man acted with at least gross negligence: "the road was closed due to high water and part of it was already flooded." Lederer continued: "the plaintiff deliberately put himself in danger and endangered the lives of others." He calls the driver's behavior "extremely reckless".

No excuse
His excuse, that another car drove in front of him and got through, does not convince the court in any way. First, there are no witnesses, and second, one cannot justify one's own gross negligence with the recklessness of another, explains lederer.

The presiding judge does not accept the kulmbach man's objection that there was no one else in the car besides him and that he contacted the police by cell phone. In situations like the floods, "the reporting situation is crucial", lederer emphasizes "and there was talk of people", not of one person. The deployment of 28 firefighters, who among other things had to illuminate the accident site, was fully justified according to the chairman's opinion. "People's lives were at stake."

The judge also found no fault with the fact that the mainleus fire department, which has a boat, was alerted to the scene. According to lederer, you can't just focus on the rescue of people, the recovery of the vehicle is also part of the operation. "It was about water danger by gasoline and oil."

Parties love comparison
After a break in deliberation, the parties agreed on the settlement proposed by the court. The demands for firefighting are reduced accordingly, and the 69-year-old withdraws his complaints. The representatives of the city and the market of mainleus agree. The lawyer of the kulmbacher ("there are concerns") also signaled his agreement: "it should not fail because of us."

Human rescue is free
Erwin burger, as head of the public safety department at the district office in kulmbach, knows the rates for firefighting operations.