The organization of the fire brigade

How is the fire brigade actually organized? What types of corps are there? What are the tasks of the fire brigade?

The types of fire brigade

The types of fire brigades are divided in two different ways.

  • Classification according to staff
  • Classification according to category

When classifying according to personnel, we look at what type of personnel is present in a fire brigade.

  • Professional service: mainly full-time staff.
  • Mixed service: full-time and volunteer staff (non-full-time).
  • Volunteer service: mainly volunteer staff (non-full-time)

But you can also divide the fire brigade according to the category of the fire service.

  • Category X: professional services.
  • Category Y: professional services or mixed services.
  • Category Z: forces that, in addition to their own municipality, also protect another municipality that does not have its own force.
  • Category C: the municipal fire services, which only defend their own municipality and/or city and are not designated as the center of a regional group, also called autonomous fire brigades.
  • Forward stations: these are outposts, usually parts of a fire brigade that have been moved to another part of the city, where it is important to be able to arrive quickly, for example at a port.

There are also a number of conditions that a fire service must meet before it is a fully-fledged brigade.

  • Minimum conditions regarding personnel and materials.
  • Every firefighter must undergo training in an accredited fire school.
  • The municipality must make the necessary buildings available that also meet certain conditions.


The different tasks of the fire brigade

In addition to fighting fires, the fire brigade has 21 other tasks. All these tasks are laid down in the 22 tasks of the fire brigade.

  1. Caring for and transporting injured people.
  2. Explosion assistance.
  3. Liberation of a person trapped in an elevator.
  4. Help for the mentally ill, for example refugees.
  5. Liberation of persons in the event of a collapse.
  6. Rescue of persons in the event of a traffic accident.
  7. Urgent transport of the sick.
  8. Deliverance of an electrocuted person.
  9. Liberation of persons in a sewer.
  10. Removing people from water, for example wells, canals, ponds.
  11. Cleaning and/or clearing the roadway if there is a danger to persons and/or goods.
  12. Freeing a person whose limbs are trapped in a machine.
  13. Pumping out flooded cellars caused by flooding or leakage in the water pipe.
  14. Intervention in the event of the release of harmful substances.
  15. Assistance with escape of steam in a building.
  16. Help with an overheated boiler.
  17. Ventilation of rooms with harmful gases.
  18. Intervention for an aircraft in trouble.
  19. Intervention in the event of a flood or disaster.
  20. Neutralization of a layer of hydrocarbon compounds or acid.
  21. Detecting any radioactive leakage and/or source.
  22. Destruction of wasp nests.


Badges and degrees

The municipal council is obliged to provide clothing to all members of the fire brigade. Every firefighter is provided with:

  • service uniform
  • intervention clothing
  • exit uniform

Just like in the army, there are different degrees in the fire service. The identifying marks of these degrees can be distinguished on all types of clothing.

We divide the fire brigade grades into three categories:

  • Basic: firefighter and corporal.
  • Non-commissioned officers: sergeant, first sergeant, sergeant major, adjutant and adjutant chief.
  • Officers: sub-lieutenant, lieutenant, captain, captain-commander, major and lieutenant-colonel.

The service chief also receives an embroidered crown above his license plate. A felt triangle is placed on the exit uniform:

  • Red triangle for professional personnel.
  • Blue triangle for volunteer staff.

For the service chiefs, a crown is also embroidered in the triangle.

The fire brigade and road traffic

The fire brigade has vehicles that can be used as priority vehicles. The blue flashing lights may be used for any assignment or exercise, they must be used for any urgent assignment. The special sound equipment may only be used for urgent assignments. The vehicles are only a priority when both the flashing lights and the sound device are used.

If this is the case, the following rules apply:

  • Other road users must give way.
  • The speed limits do not apply.
  • Breaking through military columns, group of children, parade or procession, cycling race.
  • Driving through the red light after stopping and there is no danger to other road users.
  • Persons may be transported on the external parts of the bodywork if this is provided.

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