The Hague Region Fire Department – The Netherlands
Annelies Engelenburg is Program Leader of the Public Education Fire Prevention Program at the The Hague Region Fire Department, a group of several fire stations working as a single entity.While the organization features a centralized structure, Fire Educators are encouraged to adapt their work locally and take into account their neighborhood’s unique needs.
Some activities are staples across the region (presentations in elementary schools, during city fairs, etc.), while some high-risk areas require more attention, such as home visits. “Next year, we plan on hosting Fire Prevention Sessions after fire incidents, with people who have just experienced a home fire”, mentions Ms. Engelenburg.
In addition to the Hazard House simulator, the The Hague Region Fire Department uses several education tools as part of its presentations: booklets, stickers, giveaways… The organization also has a special educational package for younger children in high-risk areas, as well as a mobile Home Safety Trailer. “We’re also developing a Fire Education Center for older children and teenagers”, says Ms. Engelenburg. “It will be a dedicated wing inside a local fire station and provide the perfect learning environment for presentations and workshops.”
While the Hazard House is only a recent addition to the Department, Fire Safety Educators are very enthusiastic to use it in the field and enjoy the freedom it provides. “Our most experienced educators enjoy that the Hazard House is a non-linear tool that can match their individual presentation style. Some like to start with a daily routine, others approach it room-by-room, others ask the audience questions…”
In the Netherlands, Ms. Engelenburg has observed a gradual shift from fire response to fire prevention. “Our work is not just about extinguish fires or preventing them from spreading: it’s about making sure they don’t happen in the first place!”. Fire education is now becoming a national effort, with long-term goals and a more closely organized structure.