Firefighters lack staff for bombing disaster
8 July 2005, BRUSSELS — The Brussels fire brigade would not be able to cope with a disaster similar to the London terrorist attacks, it was revealed on Friday.
8 July 2005
BRUSSELS — The Brussels fire brigade would not be able to cope with a disaster similar to the London terrorist attacks, it was revealed on Friday.
Staff levels mean that the Belgian capital's fire brigade would only be able to respond to emergencies at two metro stations at the same time.
Radio communication is also poor, with Francis Boileau of the Brussels brigade admitting only two frequencies are available in the event of an emergency.
And due to the lack of staff, a disaster plan has not even been formulated. This is despite the fact Brussels has 68 metro stations to transport 300,000 people per day.
The fire brigade — which has 1,000 employees, only 135 of which are available for the entire Brussels region day and night — knows the layout of metro stations, but not the best assembly points.
A plan is being drawn up, but lack of staff at the office of Governor Véronique Paulus De Chatelet means it is yet to be completed.
In the event of multiple explosions, phase three of the disaster plan would be activated, one level down from phase four to signify a nation-wide disaster.
Once activated, phase three means three mobile emergency teams (MUG) and five ambulances will be immediately dispatched.
Reinforcements would be sent based on the first reports from the scene, newspaper 'Het Nieuwsblad' reported on Friday.
Federal police said there is no need to take special measures in Brussels because there are no current indications the city is threatened with an attack.
Nevertheless, Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt decided on Thursday to tighten security on the nation's railway, airports, embassies and other public places.
The security measures can be downgraded or intensified at any time.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Belgian news