Schiphol's fire brigade: our work continues, despite the silence

Safety always comes first for Schiphol, no matter how many planes depart or land. The Schiphol Fire Brigade is ready to go 24/7, even now while the airport is open mainly for important cargo and repatriation flights. Humphrey Stoter, commander in training of the Schiphol Fire Brigade, said: “our work and tasks remain the same, only the airport is quiet around us. That’s definitely something that we feel in our hearts at Schiphol”.

Remaining 1.5-metres apart
“The fire brigade will be fully staffed during the corona crisis and will take full action in case there is a fire somewhere. At the same time, it is quite a difficult challenge to maintain a 1.5-metre distance from one another with 20 people in one post. However, the department is continuing to do its utmost to comply with the rules.

The situation is quite surreal. We have set tables and chairs further apart in the fire stations, everything is cleaned more often, we cook in smaller groups, exercise individually and only do a limited amount of fire drills in small groups so that we can maintain distance from one another. Transfer no longer takes place within the teams at the end of a shift, but 1 to 1 between the 2 managers. We normally rotate in services, teams and fire stations. However, we now always stay with the same team at the same location in order to limit contact as much as possible.

Fire brigade remains urgently needed
The need for our services continues despite the airport’s silence. Our remit covers the landing area, plus all hotels, office and general buildings, terminals, hangars and the A4 motorway. It becomes an even bigger challenge to maintain a 1.5 metre distance at those times, particularly when everyone needs to be in a fire truck. However, safety is paramount and we maintain distance wherever possible.

As digital as the fire brigade
There are some minor benefits to working during the crisis. That’s because our day programmes are not running as they normally would, so we have more time to train with the Panthers – the new crash tenders that we will be using in the coming months. However, we are working online more nowadays since our trainers are working from home! It was a little difficult to figure out, but we now receive our theory lessons online and maintain contact with the managers who are working from home. Even the fire brigade has gone online due to the corona crisis!

Despite that very minor benefit, it still remains quite silent around us on the runways, terminals and offices at Schiphol. It’s a really strange situation. We are at work so that Schiphol can remain open. Hopefully this situation will not go on for much longer!"