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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.
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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