So there you are, leaving for your holiday and in the middle of departing from Runway 09-27 you suddenly see a plane on fire… No need to worry, just take a deep breath and keep calm. That is just our FireFly! And it is set alight every day by our fire service for practice.
Where’s the fire?
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol has its own fire service, with no fewer than three fire stations: Post Sloten at Runway 09-27, Post Rijk at Runway 18L-36R and Post Vijfhuizen at Runway18R-36L. Three fire stations at our airport, isn't that a bit too much? Certainly not! It all has to do with the fact that the fire engines need to be able to reach the beginning of each runway within three minutes. As the take-off and landing runways are spread out over a wide area, we do need three fire stations.
Up in flames
The FireFly can be found at Post Sloten; it's a mock aircraft that the fire service uses for training purposes. The fire service came up with the name themselves, when it came into service at Schiphol in 2001. The fire service practises with the FireFly every day. It allows them to train for any imaginable aircraft incident, whether it's an engine fire, a broken wing or even a large-scale evacuation. At times, our fire service – in collaboration with local regular fire services – rescues anywhere up to 180 passengers from the FireFly during training sessions!
Even when showering
Some 140 men and women work in the Schiphol fire service. They work in teams of 31, divided across the three fire stations, and have 24-hour shifts. Each shift comprises a training block covering various fire scenarios, physical skills, providing instruction and conducting tasks at the stations such as cleaning and cooking. Whenever there is an alert, the men and women need to be in their working uniforms within 45 seconds, even if they happen to be taking a shower.
Simply the best
Joining the Schiphol fire service isn't easy. Last time there was a vacancy, no fewer than 380 people applied, with 150 receiving an invitation to a job interview. This does not simply entail showing up for a chat. Candidates are subjected to a battery of tests, interviews and examinations. And only then can they start with the internal training programme. This may sound a bit extreme, but of course the aim is to find the right man or woman to fulfil this important position. That means that passengers can fly without any worries, since our fire service staff are trained to the hilt and ready for action 24/7. They will literally and figuratively go through fire and water for our passengers!