Schiphol brings all passengers inside amid rising temps; Firefighters at the ready
Today is the first hot day in what will likely become the Netherlands’ first heatwave in two years. Schiphol is taking measures to protect travelers waiting in line. Rijkswaterstaat will cool bridges to prevent structural damage. And the fire brigade is at the ready in strategic locations in case there is a wildfire in the bone-dry nature.
Travelers departing from Schiphol on Thursday so far did not have to queue outside. According to a spokesperson, all departing passengers are inside, and “the lines are moving well.” Schiphol takes account of the heat and continuously monitors the temperature. The terminals are cooled, as are the tents outside should travelers have to queue there. Airport employees will also hand out water and ice cream.
Schiphol expects over 56,000 departing passengers on Thursday. A total of 180,000 people will travel through the airport today, spread over 1,200 flights. Schiphol expects a “peak day” in the arrivals hall with a long queue for passport control and baggage claim.
From this afternoon, Rijkswaterstaat will be cooling at least seven bridges in Zuid-Holland to prevent damage to the structures due to the heat. The operation could cause issues for traffic on the road and the water, according to the public works department.
During the warm days in July, Rijkswaterstaat kept four Zuid-Holland bridges cool. Now it concerns the Spijkenisserbrug, the Merwedebrug on the A27, the Dordrecht traffic bridge, the Haringvlietbrug, the Bridge over the Noord, the Papendrechtsebrug, and the Wantijbrug. The cooling should prevent steel bridge parts from expanding in the high temperatures. If the parts expand, the bridges can’t open or close.
The Spijkenisserbrug and the Wantijbrug are cooled with water hoses that take water from under the bridges. At the other five bridges, a fire brigade boat will be used when needed. Where necessary, Rijkswaterstaat will deploy traffic controllers to guide traffic safely over the water hoses.
Fire brigades across the country have placed extra vehicles with a water supply at strategic locations near forests, dunes, and heathlands because nature is currently very dry. In the Kennemerland security region, those vehicles each have 50,000 liters of water on board, said fire chief Maurice Dorsman. This means that water is immediately available if a wildfire breaks out somewhere.
The fire brigade is at the highest alert throughout the Netherlands for wildfires. It has been very dry for weeks, and there is a lot of wind. No significant rain is forecast for the next two weeks. The fire brigade calls on people to immediately sound the alarm if they see or smell smoke or fire anywhere in nature. “And, of course, don’t barbecue, light fire pits, or smoke in nature,” said Dorsman. Research has shown that human actions cause the vast majority of wildfires. Since Wednesday, smoking has been banned within 30 meters of the dunes on Texel.
A patrol plane now flies daily above the Veluwe with a fire reconnaissance scout on board. It searches for signs of a possible fire. Fire brigades in hard-to-reach areas, like forests and dunes, have special vehicles that can travel over rough terrain. Now that the risk of wildfire is high, the fire brigade is mobilizing more units than usual to a suspected fire. “Our striking power is as great as possible. And if necessary, we can call on other regions and even the defense helicopters to help.”
Reporting by ANP and NL Times