Unions say that plans by the fire brigade to send specially equipped mini-buses to house fires with crews of two or four will put lives at risk.
‘Fire brigade regulations would prevent officers entering buildings in this situation, even if there are people inside,’ Bert de Haas from civil service union FNV Overheid told the Telegraaf. ‘Even though every second counts, they would have to wait for reinforcements to go in and save lives.’
Parliament is due to debate the justice and security ministry’s plans to cut spending on the fire brigade on Wednesday. ‘I hope [minister Ivo] Opstelten will be clear about whether he thinks this is acceptable,’ De Haas said.
The union argues that considerable savings have been made on the fire brigade in recent years. For example, fire stations have been closed and there has been a cut back in the number of diving teams.
However, the national fire service Brandweer Nederland, dismisses the criticism. ‘It has nothing to do with cutting spending and everything to do with a more effective and innovative approach to staffing,’ a spokesman told the Telegraaf.
The small vans can reach fires more quickly and assess the situation, a spokesman told broadcaster Nos.