THE DUTCH FIRE DEPARTMENT
How safe from the sea is a country protected by dykes. How safe behind those dykes is a densely populated area like Rotterdam-Rijnmond, where people live, work and play. How safe is its vast port with global shipments, industry, chemical plants and the transport of hazardous goods? How safe is a metropolis such as Rotterdam, a multi-cultural society with more than 600,000 citizens. How vulnerable is its population to a sudden emission of a toxic cloud? Or is a rising sea level still our greatest threat? How do you assess the threats we are exposed to?
The Regional Fire Service of Rotterdam-Rijnmond is, with its 1300 firemen in 50 fire stations, one part of the public body known as the Safety Region Rotterdam-Rijnmond (VRR). Together with our colleagues from the Regional Ambulance Services, 1-1-2 Emergency Control Room and our Risk- and Crisis–Management department, the VRR spans an area comprising 15 municipalities with 1.2 million inhabitants. We work in close collaboration with the National Police, Public Prosecution Service, the Regional Environmental Agency, the Port of Rotterdam Authority, the municipalities and many other partners.
In 2016 the VRR was elected the best public body of the year. We have always been visionaries, and are always looking to the future. In the Netherlands we lead the way in our approach to public safety and risk management. Our Emergency Control Room – managing 430,000 emergency calls per year - is a perfect example of our constant dedication to modernising communications. We are innovators when it comes to firefighting. We have implemented the use of both Rapid Intervention vehicles and exceptionally well-equipped Heavy Duty vehicles which enable the fire department to respond more effectively to the various types of emergency situations. The vast port area encompasses firms engaged in chemical and industrial applications, which requires that we perfect specialized firefighting techniques to combat hazardous situations. Rotterdam has become a city of high rise buildings and the VRR has developed a vital expertise in this field. We contribute actively in the stages of planning application and construction to ensure adherence to safety standards for workers and public alike. In emergencies we can operate high above the ground. Similarly, below ground we continue to developed effective measures to prevent incidents in parking garages and in the subway. Our well-equipped ambulances ensure that trained paramedics can carry out important medical procedures immediately at the scene of an accident, providing professional emergency assistance before a victim is transported to hospital. When it comes to large scale incidents and disasters involving large numbers of casualties, our specialized Accident and Disaster (GHOR) team is ready to deploy the maximum assistance.
Something which we take very seriously is incident evaluation. In this way we are constantly improving our techniques and building a knowledge base for the future. This experience also allows us to effectively coordinate between the various emergency services in the event of an incident, emergency or potential disaster and to inform the public and media in a clear and transparent manner. Thanks to our community firefighters we are visible and approachable in neighbourhoods. In a miniature house we familiarise children with prevention and emergency care in a playful way. Our staff can install smoke detectors in people’s homes when they are unable to do so themselves. We visit and inspect schools, hotels and other public places. At chemical plants and industries where prevention and safety are primary issues, we are closely monitoring and developing safety procedures. We communicate with the public and business community about these inspections and visits and share our conclusions. We are, the Safety Region Rotterdam-Rijnmond. An operating public company with 2,200 people, active in our society. And we are proud of that. Proud of our work. Proud of our infrastructure. Proud of our up-to-date equipment and of our collaborative network. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. We are always here!