Ministers resign over Schiphol fire report

Justice minister Piet Hein Donner and planning minister Sybilla Dekker resigned this afternoon, following the publication of a highly criticial report into the fire at Schiphol detention centre last October which killed 11 people.

The report said there would have been fewer or perhaps no deaths at all if safety regulations had been met. The report blames a string of government departments for the disaster. It also lists a number of serious shortcomings in both building standards and safety procedures.
Responsibility rests with government and local authorities, said Pieter van Vollenhoven, chairman of the Safety Research Council which compiled the report. The government ‘should give higher priority to safety issues and act as a role model,’ Van Vollenhoven said. ‘The emphasis appeared to be on keeping people locked up rather than on fire safety.’ The report stressed that staff at the detention centre were not properly prepared to deal with an emergency. On top of that, building regulations had been ignored and the centre should not have been given a licence to operate.
An earlier version was leaked several weeks ago prompting concerns that the government would put pressure on the Council to soften its conclusions. However commentators said today the final version is even more damning than the leaked version.
Main findings:
● Cause probably a cigarette
● The fire was able to spread from cell 11 because the door was left open
● Ceiling tiles were flammable allowing fire to spread. Skylights did not work, so smoke could build up
● Personnel need better training
● Building and fire regulations were ignored
● Haarlemmermeer council failed to carry out its role as watchdog

Thank you for donating to

We could not provide the Dutch News service, and keep it free of charge, without the generous support of our readers. Your donations allow us to report on issues you tell us matter, and provide you with a summary of the most important Dutch news each day.

Make a donation