In order to ensure that all fire fighters can perform their job well and safely, BKCN invests a considerable amount of time and money in the professionalism of its staff. BKCN started the shift leaders’ training course in January. This is one of the toughest and most difficult training courses in terms of professional subject-matter within the fire department. The shift leader is in charge of the pumper and support vehicles. The shift leader and their unit are the first of the fire department to arrive at the scene of an incident and they must assess the situation quickly and independently, make a safety assessment, and subsequently determine the first fire-department deployment. It is a very heavy responsibility and a challenge.
11 Participants are taking the training course, 7 from Bonaire, 3 from St. Eustatius and 1 from Saba. The training is organized by BKCN under the leadership of Julius Melaan, the head of Training, in cooperation with the firefighting training institute BOGO from the European Netherlands and supported by BKCN instructors.
BKCN chose Europe for the practical weeks because there are insufficient appropriate training facilities in the Caribbean region for shift leaders to train properly under realistic conditions. This is why 11 participants and 5 BKCN instructors went to ‘Trainingsbase Weeze’ in Germany (just across the border near Venlo) for two intensive weeks. ‘Trainingsbase Weeze’ used to be an old English airbase with accompanying village, which was converted into a realistic training center for emergency services. Fire departments can train there under controlled conditions in all kinds of buildings where there are actual fires and smoke. A unique opportunity for participants to train and to acquire extra practical experience in a real-life environment!
BKCN is not only responsible for regular firefighting duties but also for aircraft rescue and firefighting on all three islands. For this reason airplane firefighting will be exercised in the training center of the Royal Netherlands Air Force fire department at the Woensdrecht airbase during the last two days. This will also involve realistic exercises with fire and smoke but then in airplanes and helicopters.
BKCN chose to invest extra in the professionalism and experience of the participants in view of the relatively small number of incidents on the Caribbean Netherlands and the shift leader’s responsible task. Due to this practical experience, the participants are extra prepared for their future duties.
The practical examinations for the component firefighting will take place on St. Maarten at the end of May. This is followed by the modules Technical Assistance and Accidents with Hazardous Materials, subsequently followed by the Shift Leader-Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting training course. This diploma is also required in order to be appointed as shift leader.
Press release RCN.