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A Privatization Success Story From Denmark

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[...] these new services were not paid for by the state. [...] the reform of local government in the 1970s, Falck was largely funded by the insurance industry.

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									                                                                                                                                                         columnists | emergency services
Gary Sturgess



A Privatization
Success Story
From Denmark
A Private Company So
Institutionalized that it is
Barely Even Regarded as Private
                                                                                                                                                         37
                                                                                                                                          Photo: Falck




A
         T the original Legoland in                greatest pleasure, he later wrote, was                 developed into a money-making proposi-




                                                                                                                                                         journal of international peace operations | volume 5 | number 3 | november-december 2009
         Denmark, the miniature fire               playing near the old fire station at Nikolaj           tion. It was a noble ideal, but, as someone
         brigade carries the logo of the           Taarn. “There sat the firemen…at their                 commented at the time, “Even gold may
private company Falck. In Danish                   posts, until the fire alarm went. Then they            be bought too dearly.”
telephone directories, Falck is listed             would suddenly come alive, abandon their
immediately after the emergency services           boots and aprons, and get the hand pump                Over the next two decades, until his death
number and ahead of the police. This is            going as best they could and as much as                in 1926, Falck gradually won the confi-
all because in Denmark, 60 percent of fire         their training allowed.” No speed records              dence of local government and private
fighting services and 85 percent of                were broken, but the excitement in the                 industry. Denmark did not seriously
ambulance services are provided by a               street, with much hurrah-ing and lads                  undertake the process of urbanization and
private, for-profit company Falck, as they         racing alongside the tender, made a deep               industrialization until the late 19th
have been for many decades.                        impression on young Falck.                             century, so there existed significant scope
                                                                                                          for improving emergency services in small
Speaking on Falck, English academic                Over the next two or three decades, Falck              towns and rural communities. Industry
Norman Flynn stated:                               visited European cities and studied                    was also suffering from a rapid increase in
   Falck is an anomaly in Europe. It’s a           firefighting and salvage methods. Falck                workplace accidents.
   complete aberration. Everybody trusts           imagined a new kind of public service –
   Falck like they trust the state. It’s a         an integrated rescue corps that brought                From 1908 on, the company provided
   quasi-state thing, it just happens to be        together fire, flood and marine salvage,               emergency medical services for county
   privately owned. But it is a national           emergency and subscription ambulance                   governments and private industries, even
   monopoly for these emergency services.          care and the rescue of humans and                      breaking new ground in the early 1920s by
   But it’s interesting, because the Danes         animals wherever they might be in danger.              introducing the country’s first motorized
   trust Falck as they trust the state.                                                                   ambulance. As a private provider, Falck
It is not a “quasi-state thing.” Falck is          And while he expected to make money,                   was able to offer county councils the
privately-owned and it seeks to make a             Falck envisioned a truly public service,               benefits of scale without the loss of
profit. However, for more than a century,          one that undertook rescues “irrespective               control that would have followed a
it has won the respect of the Danish               of whether payment for such service                    takeover by central government. When
people for its dedication to p
								
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