News - Falck Maasvlakte 3.0 Open for Business
After months of hard work, we are almost there; the new Maasvlakte training centre is open for business. From June onwards, the first training courses will be held at the new location at the Beerweg, just 140 metres up the road from our previous site. The official inauguration is scheduled for October, and promises to be a very festive occasion indeed. This signals a new milestone for Falck.
Barren stretch of sandy ground
What was still a barren stretch of sandy ground at the beginning of this year, with only just the bare bones of the teaching and administration building, has now in just four months developed into a modern and versatile knowledge and training centre. We have been under immense pressure to complete the project given that the Rotterdam Port Authority required the land of our old training centre to build the new HES International oil terminal with a storage capacity of 1.3 million m3.
More Spacious Set-up for More Realistic Training
The teaching and administration block is now more or less finished, and the installation of the fire-fighting training area of nigh on six hectares is nearing completion. Stellan van Oorschot, Operations Manager at Falck EMS, refers to the new centre as Falck’s international crowning glory in the field of fire training and exercises: “Efficient use of the available space and facilities on site is one of the key features of this new training centre. It is perfectly adapted to the customer’s requirements, and organised based on the latest insight into professional expertise, fire-fighting and workplace Health, Safety & Hygiene. Furthermore, it offers even more realistic fire training and exercise scenarios. The industrial training facilities are on an even larger scale, and offer more intermediate space to enable more customers to train simultaneously with larger vehicles on industrial fire scenarios without hampering each other in any way. The layout of the training facilities for buildings on fire is based on a contemporary training philosophy, and offers new opportunities to train in fire scenarios and in the use of the latest fire extinguishing technology.”
In addition, besides the new training centre, part of the former Falck site will still remain in use for some time. Fire-fighting training will still take place in the high-rise until early 2019. The existing wind training facility on the old Falck Safety Services site will also continue to be used until early 2019. Falck can therefore temporarily avail itself of that extra training area on Maasvlakte, but in the spring of 2019 these last facilities will also be dismantled to make room for the new oil terminal.
In recent years, much scientific field research has taken place into fire behaviour, fire spread, the effectiveness of fire-fighting methods, and the Health & Safety of fire-fighting personnel. The expertise acquired during that research has been applied in the layout of the new training centre and in the content of the training courses. Thus, Falck is setting a new standard for fire training and exercises. For example, the new training facilities now make it possible to train for larger and longer lasting interior fire scenarios by applying various ‘fire regimes’, and also to practise with new fire-extinguishing technology, such as a fire-extinguishing lance, fog nail, ‘cold cutter’, high pressure foam and new low pressure fire-extinguishing systems. The way the container lanes and training facilities have been set up also offers students the opportunity to build up and structure a training programme in phases, from training in basic skills based on simple response scenarios to more complex scenario training courses, including training into reconnaissance methods and assessment, opinion forming as well as decision-making.
Health, Safety & Hygiene in the Workplace
Health, Safety & Hygiene has been a major criterion in the design of the new site, and this is noticeable in the civil engineering and organisational measures implemented to protect students and instructors as much as possible against exposure to hazardous substances. The position of the buildings and the training facilities is such that, taking into account the prevailing wind direction, the ‘clean’ areas of the site, including the teaching and the administration building, will not be affected by smoke. In addition, the ventilation system of the teaching and administration building is fitted with filters.
The training centre implements Health, Safety & Hygiene by ensuring a meticulous division between the ‘dirty’ and ‘clean’ areas, as well as a carefully thought-out process for changing clothing. Thus, students and instructors are expected to leave the clean area and head to the training area wearing a clean fire-fighting suit. After training, they remove their ‘contaminated’ clothing and equipment in changing rooms especially designed for that purpose, they shower, and then put on their clean clothes again to enter the ‘clean’ part of the building. By operating this system of logistics in three areas, one can prevent cross-contamination between the training area and the teaching and administration building. Another new feature is that there will be two sets of fire-fighting suits available per day for all students, so that they work in a clean fire-fighting suit at all times of the day.
Last but not least: the environment. Even though the training centre holds an environmental certificate that allows the centre to burn fires using wood, gas and petrol, Falck also aims to do its part to reduce environmental pollution by hazardous substances. This is achieved by organising the training courses in such a way that no more fuel and flammable material is used than is strictly necessary. Contamination of the surface water by fuel residue and (training) foam is not an issue, given that the site is equipped with a closed water network and organic water treatment for fire-fighting purposes. All the water used is collected, treated, and subsequently re-used, and soil contamination is prevented thanks to the impervious training area floor.
In summary: Two years of planning, building and installation is now bearing fruit. The new Falck training centre on Maasvlakte is almost complete, and the first training courses are ready to go ahead in June. With the scenario-based training concept that is the result of field research, new training facilities and new scenarios for the public and industrial fire-fighting industry, Falck is setting a new international standard for education, training and exercises.