In the presence of colleagues of the Campine fire brigade zone and a number of company fire brigades, the fire brigade of the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre in Mol presented a new fire engine. The fire engine was unveiled by Director-General Eric van Walle and Mayor Paul Rotthier.
The brand-new medium-sized pump ladder has 2,500 litres of water and 300 litres of foam-forming liquid on board and is fully equipped with fire fighting and life-saving material. The investment fits in with the new approach to provide the SCK•CEN fire brigade with all the equipment and knowledge to carry out an initial intervention, in anticipation of the arrival of the public fire brigade. In the past, the role of the company fire brigade was restricted to guidance. To make this drastic transition possible, SCK•CEN, over the space of 3 years, invested about € 800,000 in equipment, infrastructure and training. The company fire brigade now comprises an expanded corps of 20 firemen and one woman, under the direction of a professional commander. The training of the volunteers is exactly the same as that of professional firemen.
Thanks to these major investments, the company fire brigade's operations are in line as much as possible with the methods and routines of the public corps. Due to the nature of the activities on the SCK•CEN site, the company fire brigade specialises in chemical and nuclear risks and technical rescues at great height and depth. And this is not without reason, because the research centre has an underground lab at a depth of 225 metres.
The Belgian Nuclear Research Centre is also surrounded by 335 hectares of forests. On the recommendation of the fire brigade of Mol, SCK•CEN has made major efforts to strengthen its fire fighting capacity in the forests. Additional roads and bridges were built to increase accessibility and to guarantee the water supply, 6 water pits were drilled. Recently two special quays were also built to allow fire engines to quickly pump up large quantities of water from the Bocholt-Herentals canal. SCK•CEN will test the new infrastructure in the near future during exercises with colleagues of Mol and Geel.
The collaboration will also be strengthened in another domain. Only recently, a joint action plan has been developed for a number of specific scenarios, including a large kerosene fire. This completes an important recommendation of the Belgian Federal Agency for Nuclear Control, in the context of the stress test to which SCK•CEN has been subjected.