"Elite" firefighter teams to be trained to deal with disasters

Firefighters' gear (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Muffet). (Firefighters' gear (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Muffet))

The Dutch fire department established "elite teams" of firefighters specially trained to deal with major incidents, like explosions, collapsed buildings and complicated fires. A total of 140 specialist firefighters were trained over past months to support the regular firefighters where their knowledge and experience lack, De Stentor reports. 

"A major incident does not happen often, so we have too little knowledge and experience in this kind of critical moment", Geoffrey Bos, specialist in Operational Preparation for safety office IJsseland, said to the newspaper. "The Board of Fire Brigade Commanders therefore decided to organize it differently and better. They opted to set up five specialized teams nationwide. These teams are extremely well trained, so that they can add value to major incidents.

The five teams are stationed in Drachten, Alphen aan den Rijn, Zwolle, Beusichem and Tilburg. The elite teams are dressed in orange suits and white helmets.

According to broadcaster NOS, these elite teams were used for the first time at a gas explosion in Urk in June. Three houses collapsed and six people were injured.

The teams will only be officially approved by the local safety offices in December. Until then the 25 safety offices are individually responsible for dealing with disasters in their regions.