What do the fire departments do?
The population can count on about 18,000 professional and voluntary firefighters, who are spread over 34 emergency rescue zones and the fire department of Brussels. You can call the fire departments at any moment for urgent assistance through the emergency number 112. When it is not urgent, you better call your emergency rescue zone on their own phone number.
The mission of the fire departments is of course firefighting.
However, the fire departments do have plenty of other missions. They also intervene:
- as an ambulance service for emergencies
- in case of road accidents, to rescue people who are stuck in their vehicle
- to clear public roads after a big accident
- in case of floods, explosions, buildings falling down, …
- in case of small daily problems: people who are stuck in elevators, ...
The fire departments cooperate with the Civil Protection in case of big interventions. The fire departments can directly call the operational units of the Civil Protection to reinforce them.
Standard operational procedures, training and equipment
To make the intervention of the firefighters even more safe for the people they have to help, but also for themselves and their colleagues, the Directorate-General Civil Security pays special attention to the development of standard operational procedures and trainings and to the acquisition of advanced equipment.
All firefighters get an intensive basic training, in-service training and the possibility to follow specialized trainings in one of the 11 training centres for the civil security in Belgium. The Directorate-General Civil Security and the Centre of Expertise for the Civil Security coordinate the development of the trainings and the in-service training, in cooperation with the training centres, the emergency rescue zones and the operational units of the Civil Protection.
The emergency rescue zones have the obligation to purchase both fire equipment and personal and collective protective equipment, such as pumpers, ladders, protective clothing, ... The central purchasing body of the Directorate-General Civil Security issues public tenders to open tenders to purchase equipment and vehicles the emergency rescue zones can order from. The Directorate-General also concludes the necessary maintenance contracts. The emergency rescue zones, but also the other federal departments, regularly appeal to the knowhow of the Directorate-General Civil Security regarding the acquisition of equipment.
The fire department is also at the service of the citizens for advice on fire safety.
To do so, the fire department relies, on the one hand, on legal obligations that apply to buildings, installations or events. In that case fire prevention technicians make sure the regulations are applied. They do this by checking plans and visits on the spot.
On the other hand, the fire department also wants to increase the consciousness of the citizens on the subject of fire prevention and to point their responsibilities out to them. To do so, one can count on fire prevention advisers who provide advice to reduce the fire risks in and around the house. They give advice for free, answer questions, organize information sessions for groups, visit people at home, etc.
Reform of the civil security
To assist the citizens faster, the fire departments have been reformed in 2015. In this respect the 250 fire departments have been fused into 34 emergency rescue zones and the fire department of Brussels, which evolve towards a uniform method of working, intensive cooperation and more innovation. Moreover, the professional and the voluntary firefighters each got a uniform administrative and pecuniary statute.