Since 2000, at least 32 firefighters have died on the job, according to figures obtained by Tim Renders, an advisor and fire prevention instructor, who is calling for an independent body of enquiry, De Morgen and Het Laatste Nieuws reported.
“The Federal Public Service for Home Affairs, which is notably responsible for the firefighters, does not retain data on the number of them injured on killed when attending fires,” Renders pointed out. “There should at least be an independent inquiry in the case of an incident.”
A couple of days after the Beringen blaze that cost the lives of two firefighters, Renders and his colleague Jan Jorissen, the North-Limburg fire brigade commander, called for an independent body of inquiry.
“Each operational service in our country has such a body. The police has the Comité P, the intelligence services have the Comité R and there is also an investigation unit at the ministry of defence keeping things under control. Why not a firefighters’ committee?” Jorissen wondered.
Following the Ghislenghien disaster in 2004, the emergency services were reformed and, as a result of this, the Federal Knowledge Centre for Public Safety was created in June 2008. “The objective was to collate the available knowledge and figures so as to be able to lead inquiries,” Jorissen concluded. But the knowledge centre never really got off the ground because, according to Jorissen, the budget has been cut year after year, a criticism refuted by the centre.