The colleagues of the two firemen who died last Sunday in a fire in Beringen in Limburg province will donate the bonuses they are paid for working this coming weekend to the families of the two men.
Firemen from the Heusden-Zolder station went to the aid of their colleagues in Beringen when fire broke out in an unoccupied building. At one point the firefighters present, who also included a team from Tessenderlo, were ordered to evacuate because of the danger of collapse of the building. However the two men were caught by a flashover – where combustible gases in the air begin to burn, turning the entire space into a fireball. Their bodies were later recovered from the building. Another fireman who suffered burns injuries is still in hospital in Leuven, where he is described as being out of danger.
The funerals of the two men take place on Saturday, and while the men of the South-West Limburg zone attend the funerals, their colleagues in the North Limburg zone will man the emergency service. The extra pay they receive for doing so at the weekend will go instead to the families of the two men.
The survivors of firefighters who die in the course of duty receive an allowance, but according to the commander of the North Limburg zone, it is not sufficient when, for example, the man’s children go on to study.
“Society ought to show more solidarity with the families of firefighters who risk their lives for others,” Commander Jan Jorissen said. “We make up a huge family, but the solidarity we provide is not enough. We have pleaded for reform of the allowance paid in case of death, but so far we have obtained nothing.”
The allowance paid to the families is based on the last salary of the firefighter involved, and men with less service receive less, even though they are likely to have younger children who need support for longer.
“So the allowance paid takes no account of the economic loss to the families,” Commander Jorissen said. “Society should show more solidarity with the families affected. The firemen who died after all gave their lives for society. Firemen run towards the risks that other people are running away from.”