75 years of Company Fire Brigade
The first company fire brigade training exercise took place as early as in 1932. The voluntary company fire brigade was, however, not officially established until 5 September 1932. The then Koninklijke Nederlandsche Hoogovens en Staalfabrieken (Royal Dutch Blast Furnaces and Steel factories) (KNHS), MEKOG and CEMIJ were reorganized, with its ‘Fire and First Aid brigade.’
Up until that time there had been no organized ‘help department’. Various employees from the different shift crews and office staff were appointed per department. The equipment at their disposal consisted of: a motor hose, a fire ladder, foam extinguishers, a hose and equipment vehicle, in addition to special extinguishing aids, such as steam extinguishing pipes in the Benzol building, manual extinguishers and fire pumps.
The first steps towards an organized company fire brigade were taken by the fire brigade committee, under the guidance of Mr Spies. The company fire brigade would have to be made up of volunteers, according to them. “Volunteers do not complain about the time asked of them outside of working hours’, says Mr Spies. He also advocated central storage of the fire fighting material on the premises, more intense cooperation with the first-aid room, the setting up of a training ground and the instalment of fire sirens on the premises. His thoughts went out to a voluntary fire fighter core of 15 to 20 members, allowing only those who live within approx. 1 km of the factory to become members.
In 1933 Mr Spies purchased a coal-truck for 225 guilders on the Waterloo square in Amsterdam. This was converted into a fire engine. In addition, a central alarm system was built and the fire fighter nucleus members were fitted with specific fire fighting clothes, such as overalls with zippers (inside the station), a safety belt with an axe and an electric light, a fire helmet and a gas mask; for keeping at home: a pair of boots, a pair of jodhpurs with zipper, a sweater and a coat made of canvas.
The number of core members was 15. They also underwent first-aid training. It was also proudly mentioned that more than the necessary number of people had volunteered spontaneously. Mr Spies naturally became the first senior fire officer, remaining in office until 1945.
Company fire brigade in 2008
The voluntary company fire brigade of Corus Steel is made up of personnel who have voluntarily made themselves available to the company, and is therefore regarded as a voluntary fire brigade. The members are employed in many different departments on site at IJmuiden. Their training and equipment meet the government guidelines. There is always enough fire fighting capacity present to be able to act effectively.
The company fire brigade has three tanker hoses, a first-aid vehicle, a command vehicle and foam and powder extinguishing trailers. Turn-out of the municipal fire brigades of Velsen, Beverwijk and Heemskerk has been laid down in a covenant. The municipal fire brigades practice together with the Corus fire brigade on a periodical basis. Because of this the brigades are attuned to one another and they are familiar with the situation on the Corus premises.
The paging system for the company fire brigade does, however, differ from the municipal procedures, but meets the company demand. Due to this system between 15 to 18 people are present when 21 people are paged.
In order to devise a training exercise plan for the Corus fire brigade a different approach is needed compared to the professional and the voluntary municipal fire brigade. The Corus fire brigade do not practice in the evening, but one day a month, from 08:00 to 16:30 hours, with the exception of holiday months June, July and August.
Outside of the times that the company fire brigade practice themselves, support is also given to the various departments on the premises. This support results in the devising of an exercise plan and the participation of a commanding officer in the department exercise. For those in command there are three extra practice days, focussing on leadership, procedures, and deployment strategies for the scenarios concerned.