The Brussels fire department has said it is unhappy with the current pedestrian network, as it makes it difficult for emergency services to move around. Eric Labourdette, the head of the SLFP and president of the fire department union, spoke about it on Wednesday. No action to deal with the situation is planned at the moment. “There are problems just 500 metres from the entrance to the Brussels fire department’s main base. They are supposed to be able to easily reach all the Brussels communes, as well as areas in the Flemish Brabant”, says Eric Labourdette. “We were held up in test exercises, during which the rue Laeken was closed. It is a busy main road. Concrete constructions stop us reaching part of that neighbourhood. The ladder doesn’t reach the windows of some buildings.
Before, firemen could go straight from the base directly into the town centre, into Anderlecht, or reach the CHU Saint Pierre through rue Laeken. Now, they have to do a detour through boulevard Emile Jacqmain”. The fire department is unhappy with the new set up, including the fact that some roads have become one way, and the new road between the de la Bourse and De Brouckère squares.
Firemen say the alternative route causes problems, and makes interventions slower. Removable constructions mean even more time is wasted. “Slowing down traffic is a good idea, but we can’t afford to slow the emergency services down”, says Eric Labourdette.