[Behind the scenes] Brussels Airport unveils two brand new ‘state of the art’ energy-efficient fire stations

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On 11 March, Brussels Airport unveiled two brand new ‘state of the art’ energy-efficient fire stations. The Belgian press was invited to witness the unveiling of their two brand new ‘state of the art’ energy-efficient fire stations. The setup was highly professional and all that was missing was the song ‘Show me your firetruck’ (from Hans Zimmer) on the air.

© Martin Gillet

Two state-of-the-art, energy-efficient fire stations now in use at Brussels Airport

The 145-strong fire department at Brussels Airport now operates from two brand-new fire stations, which are located in the eastern and western sections of the airport grounds. The fire stations are specifically designed for responding to emergency situations, are energy-efficient and provide plenty of space for housing the fire brigade’s extensive fleet.

“Our new fire stations belong to the best in Europe, they are designed to enable even more efficient operations in case of an emergency intervention and are equipped with the latest technologies. They furnish our fire department with everything it needs to respond quickly and appropriately to emergency situations. The buildings were designed with special attention to sustainability; both have a high energy performance and are very economical with water”, says Brussels Airport Company CEO, Arnaud Feist.

© Martin Gillet
© Martin Gillet

The two new fire stations are located in the eastern and western sections of the airport grounds, they replace the three old fire stations that were located in the northern and southern sections and next to the airport terminal. The new location between runways 25R and 25L, flanking the airport grounds, enables firefighters to provide an even faster response during emergencies.

© Martin Gillet

We were greeted at the West Fire Station with an introduction of the new facilities, which are fitting the purpose of fast and adequate interventions in case of accidents, while meeting all compliance with aviation law.

© Martin Gillet

Two fire stations (West and East) have been deployed. These facilities are equipped with the latest techniques and technologies.

Totaling 7,017 square meters of ground area, including a building ground area of 4,632 for the West Station and  2,565 square meters of ground area, including a building ground area of 1,413 square meters for the East Station.

© Martin Gillet

The two garage have enable a ‘drive-through’ in order to speed up and ease the operations.

© Martin Gillet

The stations are home of a team of 145 firemen and women working round the clock 24/7, in 5 operational teams. A team typically consists of 1 deputy manager, a adjunct deputy manager, 4 technicians, 14 firefighters and 6 ambulance drivers.

© Martin Gillet
© Martin Gillet

Only 30 seconds to exit the fire station

Thanks to its setup, the functional organisation in line with the intervention flows in 30 seconds to first line emergency vehicles.

© Martin Gillet

The airport fire brigade’s emergency response times were factored into the fire station’s design. In the event of an incident on the tarmac, the fire brigade must be on site within 3 minutes. For a problem in the terminal or another airport building, they must attend within 5 minutes. The new design enables our firefighters to exit the fire station within 30 seconds of an alarm. By doing so the airport fire brigade is fully compliant with response times required by aviation law.

Both fire stations have a central garage with sufficient space for all vehicles that are required to remain on standby for emergencies, such as crash tenders and fire-extinguishing robots. The vehicles park in the garage according to the ‘keep moving’ principle, ensuring that vehicles never have to exit the garage in reverse.

In addition to the garage, the fire station also houses various technical rooms, meeting rooms equipped with the latest technology, offices, living and relaxation quarters.

Impression Know-how and demo

Braving the elements, Brussels Airport Fire Department demonstrated their know how and dedication during a ‘drill exercise’, using one of the three training training aircraft. The exercise featured a crashtender (a fire engine with water, foam & powder to fight aircraft fires) which has a water reserve between 12,500 and 16,500 liters, a foam tank between 1,000 and 3,000 liters. The pump can pour 7,000 to 11,600 liters per minute.

© Martin Gillet
© Martin Gillet
© Martin Gillet
© Martin Gillet
© Martin Gillet
© Martin Gillet
© Martin Gillet
© Martin Gillet
© Martin Gillet
© Martin Gillet
© Martin Gillet
© Martin Gillet

Also featured was the department firefighting robot which is aiming at even more dangerous places like aircraft hangars and tunnels. The robot can throw at a distance of 60 meters, at a speed up to 6km/h. Its nozzle ring can deliver 400 liters per minute where the pump can deliver up to 2,400 liters per minute.

Sustainable, energy-neutral design

The facilities aimed at a sustainable design, featuring almost 800 panels, solar boilers (along with heat pumps delivering heating and cooling), led lights, water pumps and buffering of rain water; which can hold up to 230,000 liters of water collected from the roofs (that is the equivalent of filling the 8 crashtender trucks twice !).

Buildings are also made of concrete, to ease later recycling when needed.

Facts & Figures 

Brussels Airport has 540 actual interventions per year, for which

  • 42% are aviation related
  • Out of 28% of fire alarm, only one third are actual fires
  • 13% are technical interventions
  • 7% are logistical interventions
  • 5% are incidents with hazardous substances

More information regarding the West and East Fire Stations :

Pictures © Martin Gillet

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