Van Nispen: Our safety at risk due to Brussels fire department regulations

27 May 2021

Van Nispen: Our safety at risk due to Brussels fire department regulations

Foto: SP

The Dutch fire department is under great pressure. The fire department increasingly has to turn out with fewer people or with less equipment. European plans to limit volunteerism in the fire service are now also threatening a large exodus among volunteers. As far as the SP is concerned, we will not let that happen. 

About eighty per cent of Dutch firefighters do this voluntarily. That's almost 20,000 people. The minister's interpretation of the European rules to protect workers means that volunteers have to be hired and people who want to remain volunteers have to perform fewer tasks. However, many firefighters consciously choose a voluntary position, because they want to do this in addition to their regular job. They receive compensation for this. This is made much more difficult by these European rules. The shortage of good firefighters will only increase. The government has announced its intention to introduce these European rules. As a result, volunteers are no longer allowed to extinguish all fires. Many volunteers say they give up because of this. 

SP member of parliament Michiel van Nispen: 'This endangers our safety. This should not happen. In Europe, the cabinet will have to ensure that these rules do not apply to our fire service, or simply do not implement these regulations.' 

The SP has previously drawn attention to the effect that these rules will have on our fire service. The cabinet has now decided to divide the professional and voluntary firefighters. Van Nispen: 'If firefighters themselves indicate that they do not want to become second-rate firefighters, we must take those concerns very seriously. Our fire department cannot function without volunteers.' 

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