SICHERHEITS UND HILFSDIENST (SHD): Germany. 1937-1942. The Sichersheits und Hilfdienst (Security and Assistance Service) provided the organized, mobile civil defense strike force for the 106 towns of the first category regarded as most vulnerable to wartime air attack in the German air raid protection organizational structure. Established on 4 May 1937 (one source indicates a 1935 foundation date) it evolved into a conscripted service, established as a reserved occupation whose members were exempted from military service but were also not allowed to hold other employment. SHD units were housed in barracks, with a rotating staffing pattern that allowed half of the unit’s personnel to sleep at home each night, callouts for attacks permitting.  The SHD mission included firefighting, rubble clearance, urban search and rescue, building repair, emergency medical services, and the location and delivery of disaster supplies. 
 
The SHD consisted of five branches, distinguished by distinctive arm insignia:

Like the Reichsluftschutzbund and British Air Raid Precautions personnel (and unlike United States Civil Defense),  SHD personnel were fully uniformed in a military style uniform. 

The organization and equipping of the SHD was directed by the Air Ministry; vehicles were supplied through the Army Equipment Office.
 
Starting in 1939 a national, mobile, strategic reserve of three to four SHD battalions was established to allow rapid reinforcement of local SHD units in cities under heavy attack. These units were formed by drafting personnel from all of the existing SHD units. The mobile reserve table of equipment included appropriate transport, initially the KzS 8 light fire truck, and the available heavy rescue technology of the day (heavy jacks, pile drivers, and cutting and demolition tools).

As an example of the organizational structure adopted at the battalion level, SHD Motorized Battalion 34 was established in Nurnberg in 1940 with a table of organization strength of 493 personnel, 19 automobiles, 18 motorcycles, and 75 trucks assigned.  This unit was divided into:

In April 1941 the SHD motor pool in Nurnburg included:

This total of 333 vehicles fell short of the target resource list of 425 vehicles.  At the same time Mannheim had a target strength of 416 vehicles (reached 70 percent of target strength) and Frankfurt am Main 473 vehicles (reached 78 percent of target strength).

By 1942, the early stages of the Allied air campaign against German cities (included the bombings of Rostock and Lubeck) had highlighted the deficiencies of the existing system.  As a result the mobile Battalions were transferred to the Air Force and became Luftwaffe Motorized Air Protection Battalions, and the remaining units were  reorganized, renamed the Luftschutz Polizei, and placed under national control of the Order Police.
 
Sources: Davis, Brian L., Uniforms and Insignia of the Luftwaffe, Volume 2: 1940-1945, London, United Kingdom, Arms and Armour Press, 1995. Foedrowitz, Michael, German Firefighting Vehicles in World War II, Atglen, Pennsylvania, United States of America, Schiffer Military History, 1997.
 
Entry 0134 - updated 5 October 2003