2023-12-24

How does a fire brigade network work?

How does a fire brigade network work? Did you know that several companies in the port have their own fire brigades? This allows them to intervene immediately in case of an incident. To collaborate more efficiently with other brigades and public services, they established together the Brandweernetwerk Zeehaven-Schelde, a fire services network in the Antwerp port area.

Company fire brigades

In the Antwerp port area, you'll find over ninety Seveso companies. These are companies that produce, process, treat, or store hazardous substances. They must comply with strict preventive measures. Consequently, many companies train their employees to form part-time fire brigades. Five companies in and around the port even have full-time fire brigades: BASF, Covestro, TotalEnergies, the Doel Nuclear Power Station, and Evonik.

 

Johan Spruytte is the Safety Health Environment Quality Manager at Evonik. He explains: "We specialize in handling toxic and reactive products. Thanks to our brigade, we intervene immediately in case of incidents and stabilize the situation before the municipal fire brigade provides assistance."

The fire brigade network in the Antwerp port area.©Jens Mollenvanger

Train, learn, check, help

Fortunately, most days pass without incidents due to numerous preventive measures. So, what does a company fire brigade do? According to Johan, it's mainly about training and participating in courses. They practice with other employees, inspect and maintain firefighting equipment and protective gear.

 

"Every day, they check the equipment and vehicles, which is also a form of training." The company fire brigade is also present during site works. "They stand by during hazardous works, such as welding or grinding. They're also there if someone, for instance, needs to enter a tank for maintenance."

Thanks to our brigade, we intervene immediately in case of incidents and stabilize the situation before the municipal fire brigade provides assistance.

Johan SpruytteSafety Health Environment Quality Manager at Evonik
Safety Health Environment Quality Manager at Evonik©Jens Mollenvanger

Fire brigade network

The fire brigade network 'Brandweernetwerk Zeehaven-Schelde (BZS)' was established with the public fire services of Waasland and the City of Antwerp, along with the five partners with full-time professional fire brigades. Port of Antwerp-Bruges deploys tugboats during interventions, which can also assist in firefighting. Today, the network comprises around twenty companies collaborating on industrial firefighting.

 

Ben Windey, Incident Management Officer at Port of Antwerp-Bruges and network coordinator, explains the benefits of this collaboration. Procedures have been established to communicate efficiently during an intervention. The brigades can offer assistance on-site more easily, and the network compiles a catalogue of all available equipment and vehicles. "If a fire officer urgently needs extra foam, they notify the control room. They can immediately see in the catalogue which company has stock and whom to contact."

The fire brigade network in Antwerp.©Jens Mollenvanger

But the collaboration offers many benefits beyond interventions. Through the network, companies can easily book training sessions for their firefighters. "Such training requires a minimum number of participants. Booking them together helps fill that quota much faster." Purchasing new equipment is also more cost-effective when done collectively. Additionally, it ensures compatibility among all equipment. The network also promotes the exchange of experience, knowledge, and contacts. Johan acknowledges this. "Everyone knows the procedures, so working together during an intervention works, but it's always smoother when it's people you know."

 

Where does the name Seveso come from? And what do these rules mean exactly? Find out on their website!

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