Fire stations of the world: Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, The Netherlands
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 one 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, they do need three fire stations. Their training area, dubbed ‘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 fighters practise 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, the Schiphol Fire Service, in collaboration with local regular fire services, rescues anywhere up to 180 passengers from the FireFly during training sessions.
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.
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 the Schiphol 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 the passengers.
Over the coming months, Schiphol’s Fire Service will be phasing in 13 new Rosenbauer fire engines, also known as crash tenders. The airport’s fire service will be using them to deal with aviation incidents. The crash tenders belong to the largest and fastest category of fire engines. They will replace the current vehicles, which have reached the end of their service life after a period of 15 years.
Special Schiphol crash tenders
The eight-wheel drive (8x8) vehicles are equipped with the very latest fire-extinguishing technology. The fire service personnel can already fight a fire while approaching it in the vehicle, therefore extinguishing it even more quickly and safely. The vehicles can be driven while simultaneously extinguishing a fire, using large quantities of extinguishing agent in a short space of time: 13 300 litres of water, 1 600 litres of foam and over 250 kilos of powder. This extinguishing capacity will enable Schiphol to satisfy the strictest requirements in the future as well and allows the largest aircraft.
They are also extremely fast and have excellent all-terrain capacity. The fire service personnel can fight a fire from the vehicle, which will allow them to more easily and safely extinguish a landing gear fire or an engine fire, for example. This increases the fire service personnel’s safety. It is also possible to pierce the fuselage of an aircraft and apply a water barrier, thus creating a survivable situation for passengers and enabling personnel to extinguish a fire on a cargo deck or in another location.
Schiphol has a particular catchment area with a great deal of grass and fields. The Dutch climate and the soil composition pose specific demands when it comes to driving on these unpaved and boggy surfaces. The new vehicles have special wide tyres and are equipped with technical features to enhance their all-terrain capacity. This makes the vehicles highly suitable for dealing with aircraft accidents in the vicinity of the runways. Driving on the airport grounds imposes requirements with respect to vehicle height as well: at 3,8 metres high, the new vehicles will also fit under the piers and other buildings at the airport. Cutting-edge technology, including an advanced navigation system and infrared cameras, enables the fire service staff to safely drive across the field in poor weather conditions such as fog, rain and snow. All vehicles are identical.
“Schiphol’s Fire Service is permanently on call, day and night, ready to reach a runway within three minutes if necessary. We prioritise the safety of passengers and staff in our operations. I am proud of the fact that we will be using these advanced crash,” says Dick Benschop, CEO of Royal Schiphol Group.
“A complex environment such as Schiphol requires its own approach to safety. With a fire brigade that has been specially trained for the airport and with its own equipment for the specific environment of Schiphol. I am proud and happy with such innovative equipment that we can also deploy outside Schiphol if necessary“, says mayor of Haarlemmermeer Marianne Schuurmans.
“The vehicles represent the very latest in fire fighting technology. They offer exceptional performance, are safe to operate and are equipped with state-of-the-art features, including the Rosenbauer tracking and navigation system. We are very proud that Royal Schiphol Group has placed their trust in us”, says Dieter Siegel, CEO Rosenbauer International AG.
The new vehicles will be built by renowned crash tender builder Rosenbauer from Austria.
Each fire station has three crash tenders with a total of:
Source: Airside Int and Schiphol