Tuesday night’s thunderstorms exposed the ineffectiveness of 1722, the number reserved for non-emergency interventions by the fire brigade, according to Leighton Hoovelts of the Christian union ACV, speaking to the Gazet van Antwerpen. Emergency number 1722 was created last year for calls regarding storm damage that did not require urgent intervention, so as to ease the congestion on line 112, reserved for emergencies. However, many people are still using 1722. “And those who know the number are put on hold for too long, so they end up calling 112,” Hoovelts explained.
The unions had raised the issue in January, pointing out that people were sometimes put on hold for as long as one hour during severe weather.
Home affairs minister Jan Jambon argued, however, that the new line is a success. “The aim of 1722 is to ease the pressure on 112 and it’s working,” he said. He admitted, however, that “the system can still be improved here and there.”