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Evacuation Drills and Fire-Fighting at ASTRON

Submitter: Anne Veendijk
Description: In the evening of March 7th 2016, there was an unannounced and alarming event at the premises of ASTRON in Dwingeloo. The Emergency Response Team ("BedrijfsHulpVerlening, BHV for short) had organized a fire-fighting exercise in cooperation with the local fire brigade. According to the scenario, a smoke detector in the laundry room of the guesthouse was supposed to go off in the early evening.

However, two hours before this planned exercise, the BHV-team was surprised by an additional fire alarm. Shortly after closing time of the reception desk, the slow-whoop alarm sounded. The BHV responded immediately, and all employees and guests left the building in good order, to gather at the assembly point (Verzamelplaats).

The BHV team members were then confronted with what they believed was a real fire in the building. When the problem was located, the BHV took all the necessary measures to rescue the victim, in this case a dummy (see picture 2). Because this emergency took place at a time when the reception was closed, the BHV not only had to deal with the unexpected situation, but also had to take care of tasks that the receptionist normally performs.

This unexpected extra evacuation drill did of course not cancel the originally planned exercise. At 7:15 PM, a smoke detection fire alarm in the guesthouse was received by the Dwingeloo fire brigade. All guests and employees left the building.

Since, according to the original scenario, the BHV was not supposed to be in the building this evening, the team was ordered to wait for the fire brigade to arrive. The latter had to find their own way to the fire location, and to gain access to the guesthouse. Since a large tree had somehow fallen across the access road to ASTRON, it took some extra time for them to deal with this (see picture 3). Then the BHV-members had to take care of their own problems, as they were told that a technical engineer was still in the building, who had not responded to the fire alarm. This person had to be found, and quickly!

After a thorough search of the building, the engineer was found in a small service room, which can only be accessed via a ladder. Unfortunately he was too seriously injured to climb down the ladder himself, so we had to ask the fire-fighters for help (see picture 4). With their skill and equipment, they were able to take control of the situation at the guesthouse (see picture 5). The signal "brand meester" was given at half past nine in the evening.

Afterwards we evaluated the exercise together with the fire fighters (see picture 6). The two successive drills were exciting and exhausting, but full of new elements from which the BHV and the fire fighters could learn. Special thanks to all the volunteers, fire fighters, victims and evacuees.
Copyright: ASTRON
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