Over 4,300 New Year's fire incidents; Cities call attacks on aid workers "Outrageous"

Fire department vehicle on New Year's Eve 2019 in Amsterdam Oost
A fire department vehicle on stakeout where car fires were reported a day earlier in Amsterdam Oost. Dec. 31, 2019NL Times

Firefighters in the Netherlands responded to 4,340 reported incidents between New Year's Eve and the beginning of New Year's Day. The number corresponds to nearly a three percent increase over the same period last year, though 14 of the 25 emergency services regions showed a decrease.

The Haaglanden region had the single highest total number of emergency calls, at 942, which equaled a 32 percent increase. The region includes The Hague, where dozens of car fires were reported bringing the total number of fire incidents up to a staggering 608, according to figures provided by the city.

Johan Remkes, the city's acting mayor, said he was proud of how the city's residents, business staff, volunteers, and aid workers worked together in the face of weeks of rioting and aggressive behavior in the city. "Good collaboration early on makes more possible than you think," he said. He also expressed frustration at how the New Year's festivities requires such a large-scale response from municipal services, adding,  "It is unacceptable that in a number of cases there has also been violence and threats against aid workers and representatives of the media."

Even though there was a 24 percent drop in fire department calls in the Amsterdam-Amstelland region, or 250 in total, over 100 of the calls were within the city of Amsterdam. There was an increase in arrests, a statement from the city showed. The city said it was "outrageous and unacceptable" that personnel from the fire department, police department, and constabulary security workers were all attacked with fireworks at various points throughout the 32-hour period ending at 8 a.m. on January 1.

"The number of incidents involving violence towards care providers is substantially more than last year," the city said. There was also an increase in vehicular fires.

There were also 709 incidents In the Rotterdam-Rijnmond region, for a seven percent increase. Police working the streets in the city of Rotterdam and surrounding area made 59  arrests, with seven cases involving assault on a police officer, authorities said.

Another 313 dispatched calls were received in the Utrecht region, totaling a 15 percent drop. Despite the drop, over three dozen people were arrested in the city, of which 23 were underage minors, according to broadcaster NOS.

The Midden en West Brabant region had the fifth most incidents, with 224, with many calls in Bergen op Zoom, Breda, Roosendaal and Tilburg. Even though the Gelderland-Midden region showed a five percent drop in fire related response, the fatal fire in Arnhem and ensuing arrests drew a significant amount of attention and condemnation.

Limburg Noord had the least amount of reports, at 46, but that still represented three times more than a year ago. The Drenthe region had nearly a 50 percent drop in fire complaints, down to 67 in total. Decreases of 24 to 30 percent were also registered in Noord-Holland, Flevoland, Gelderland Zuid, and Amsterdam-Amstelland.