A day in the life of the fire brigade
Dow has the largest professional corps in Zeeland on a 24-hour shift, 7 days a week. A working day is therefore not standard from 9 to 5. What does a day of our fire brigade colleagues look like?
To be available 365 days a year, the fire brigade consists of different teams that work 24-hour shifts. Nico Ottink (fire department manager Dow) says: "A shift starts at 7:00 am and the colleagues work until 7:00 am the next morning, after which the next shift starts. We have three different shifts that alternate. A team consists of 15 colleagues, of which at least 10 are at work per day. One of them is the commander. This person is in charge, for example during a call-out. There is also always a duty officer present. When there is a major calamity and several teams are involved, he will be above the commander and he will manage several teams. In addition, it is important that everyone is on call, even when he or she is free. This is not mandatory, but when help is needed, many colleagues are willing to do so."
Work on the fire station or on the site
Nico talks about what the day looks like at the fire station: "At the start of a shift, the new shift is handed over from the previous shift. It is discussed whether there were any peculiarities in the past 24 hours and whether something happened in one of the various factories. Then the working day begins. When 10 colleagues are present, 4 start with planned work and 4 remain at the fire station and 2 man the emergency center. The work is scheduled at the start of the shift until about 4:30 p.m. and can, for example, consist of blocking fire protection systems and testing sprinkler systems at a certain factory. At each factory we have to test the system 3 times dry and 1 time wet. We are not allowed to do that testing just like that. We have close consultations with the plant managers for this so that the production processes are not disrupted. Testing all kinds of different systems takes a lot of time. In addition, we also deal with unplanned work. For example, in the case of odor nuisance. We then go there and take measurements to ensure that our colleagues and the immediate environment do not experience any nuisance and are in a safe situation. When a report of a calamity comes in during the day, during the work, 2 colleagues go directly to the incident and 2 go back to the barracks. The colleagues who are at the fire station go straight to the incident."
260 hours of practice per year
Nico continues: "After the work, it's a break. The colleagues eat in the same place as the operators, namely in the canteen on the site. Just like during the day, 4 firefighters stay behind. Then another exercise is done. Every colleague has to build up 140 practice hours per year. The average for us is 260 practice hours per person. When the exercise is over, there is still some time for relaxation. Then they go to sleep. They all have their own sleeping area. After sleeping, they tidy it up, so that a colleague from the next shift can get in and then the shift is over."
If you ever cycle past the Industry park, it is certainly possible that you will encounter our fire brigade during one of the many exercises. For example, we have a water transport system that we regularly test and practice, which means that we are also active with the fire engines in the immediate vicinity of the Industry park. We must always be able to be at the scene of an incident within 6 minutes.
Would you like to know more about our company fire brigade?
You will regularly encounter us in the region. For example, in 2022 and 2023 we were active at the Lifeboat Day in Breskens and during the fire service day at the market in Terneuzen.