On Thursday 19 June the Kempen Fire Brigade organised a large-scale water transport drill in cooperation with the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre and JRC-IRMM, which saw various fire brigades establish a 3.5 kilometre water transport along the Bocholt-Herentals canal as rapidly as possible. The aim was to pump 4,000 litres of water per minute out of the canal.
In the event of major incidents, it is important to be able to transport large amounts of water over long distances. These large-scale water transports demand a great deal of expertise of the fire brigade and also require close collaboration between the various brigades. For instance, large-scale water transport demands the linking of different rescue pumps to propel the water. The drill includes both technical actions and a test of the communication lines.
About 40 fire fighters from the Mol, Balen, Geel, Grobbendonk, Herentals, Herenthout and Westerlo brigades took part in the drill. They worked closely with the fire department of SCK•CEN and the Institute for Reference materials and Measurements (JRC-IRMM) in Geel.
The location along the Bocholt-Herentals canal, where the SCK•CEN recently built two quays for the fire services, was a deliberate choice. These quays allow large quantities of water to be pumped up quickly and safely. The canal passes through the Mol and Dessel nuclear sites and is surrounded by an extensive wooded area. Moreover, the large-scale water transport and testing of the special fire service quays offer a perfect fit for the stress tests to which nuclear companies and institutes are subjected.
The objective of the drill was achieved. Within the targeted time 4,000 litres of water a minute was pumped up and transported over a distance of 3.5 km. The drill will now be further analysed and evaluated in more detail by the observers and the participating brigades.
The Belgian Nuclear Research Centre has recently invested over € 800,000 in training, infrastructure and vehicles. The most eye-catching innovation is the new emergency vehicle which came into use at the beginning of 2014. These investments allow the 21-man SCK•CEN fire brigade to carry out initial interventions independently on its site in accordance with the methods and procedures of the public service fire brigade.