Gezamenlijke Brandweer Amsterdam Westelijk Havengebied (GBA, loosely translated ‘unified industrial fire services Amsterdam Westpoort’) has joined the Amsterdam IJmuiden Offshore Ports association. GBA is a public-private fire brigade jointly established by the Amsterdam-Amstelland Security Region, Port of Amsterdam and a cooperation between 18 firms, including a number of AYOP members.

Operational since April 2020, GBA provides emergency fire cover 24/7 to the companies located in Amsterdam Westpoort with a six-strong team man, a standard water tender and an industrial fire engine. The complete brigade comprises around 30 firemen and from its dispatch station on Galwin the GBA attends 98% of incidents in the industrial port complex within six minutes.

“The GBA is more than just a fire service,” says team leader Raymond Pikee. “We are a specialised mutual aid organisation that provides regular and industrial emergency responses. This is why we are located in the Veiligheidscentrum (safety centre) from where we can be called out by our partners, members and other organisations such as the Police, Customs, Port of Amsterdam, Environmental Services and ProRail to jointly ensure that Amsterdam Westpoort offers a safe and secure location for businesses. Thanks to these short lines of communication, we can provide firefighting and emergency services in a fast and tactical manner. This ensures that companies can swiftly restart their operations should an incident occur.”

In addition to responding to incidents and disruptions, the GBA shares its expertise with members in order to improve the layout and management of various safety systems, water supply points and safety-related policies.

The GBA covers a large area and a broad range of risks. In addition to the chemical industry and tank terminals, the port complex is home to bulk storage firms, large logistics warehouses and the shipping sector, plus a great deal of traffic. There are also a considerable number of offices and multi-tenant business buildings with a variety of functions.

Prior to the GBA being set up, Amsterdam Westpoort did not have its own fire station and only a small number of hazardous sites had a company fire brigade. Having so many possible emergency scenarios in the area requires more than the standard fire services. The GBA has the specific equipment for and specialist knowledge of this complex industrial environment.

Due to the exceptional challenges faced, tackling fires onboard vessels is a specialised discipline in its own right. Calamities on ships can cause considerable disruption to the port by blocking the waterway. With this in mind, the GBA works in close consultation with the Port of Amsterdam.

“As we are operational in Amsterdam Westpoort and have dedicated knowledge of industrial and maritime firefighting, the GBA can offer added value to AYOP members by sharing our expertise,” Raymond concludes.

AYOP director Sylvia Boer agrees: “The fact that the GBA has joined our association is a testament to its involvement in and understanding of the offshore sector in our region. The unified approach seamlessly matches one of the key goals for AYOP: to create a comprehensive ecosystem for the offshore energy sector in the North Sea Canal Region. The know-how and experience that the GBA has of our region makes a clear contribution to ensuring a safe business climate for our members.”