During the exercise, the fire brigade had a number of key objectives. “Firefighting, victim management, hose management and ventilation of the room”, says Boy de Ronde, a firefighter within the Rotterdam Security Region.

‘Unique’ exercise site

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Two test dummies needed rescuing. Image credit: Rebecca Lamping

The Tinbergen building on campus is a suitable location for training exercises. The building, which is vacant ahead of its renovation, is tall and features a special dry standpipe system, which makes the exercise ‘unique’, De Ronde explains.

The fire brigade faced the task of fighting a fire on the first floor of the Tinbergen building and rescuing the victims from the smoke-filled building. Prior to the exercise, an old office room on the first floor had been filled with smoke and two test dummies had been placed inside it to be rescued.


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During the exercise, the corridors of the Tinbergen building were filled with smoke. Image credit: Rebecca Lamping

When there is a fire in a tall building, the fire engine pumps the water through a pipe in the building to the floor where it’s needed, where firefighters can use a hose to control the supply and discharge of the water.  This requires first calculating the exact pressure at which the water should be pumped up. “When the pressure is correctly calculated, the water can be pumped all the way to the top floor. We are conducting the exercise on the first floor so that we can leave immediately if we are called out”, says De Ronde.

During an exercise, effective command is critical: firefighters address each other using numbers, to avoid any confusion about names. Communication and cooperation are essential for everything to run effectively. Repetition is likewise key: ‘It’s good to be familiar with the steps involved in fighting a fire.’

Ventilation plan

After a fire has been put out, a great deal of smoke typically remains in the building. Firefighters must get rid of the smoke as effectively as possible everywhere they go; this is done by opening windows and doors in the right places, so that the wind can blow it away.  “Not all windows in this building can be opened, which makes ventilation difficult. To make the most effective use of the wind, we have drawn up a ventilation plan.”