On Wednesday April 12th the Caribbean Netherlands Fire Department (Brandweerkorps Caribisch Nederland, hereafter referred to as BKCN) held an airplane firefighting training exercise on the grounds of Bonaire International Airport (BIA). BKCN is not only responsible for regular firefighting duties, but also for airplane firefighting on all three islands. The training exercise was an in-service training in the field of airplane firefighting and was intended for all BKCN instructors. The instructors therefore are able to give other colleagues within the department in-service training.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) applies very strict rules and requirements which the fire department must observe. It was a realistic training exercise with fire and smoke in an airplane during evening hours. These exercises took place on the grounds of BIA where a training object has been constructed from containers and other materials to imitate the fuselage of an airplane. There are two different mock-up cabins on the inside; one of a smaller airplane with one aisle and one of a larger airplane with two aisles. In case of an airplane fire it is important for the fire department to turn out and reach the fire within three minutes and to create a survivable situation as soon as possible in order to save as many human lives as possible.
Four shift leaders and three officers of service from Bonaire, and 1 shift leader and 2 firemen from St. Eustatius participated in this physically demanding training exercise. A total of 10 participants and 3 fire engines were deployed. The training exercise was organized by BKCN instructor Ab Hoek and Sergeant Major Frank Koenders, airplane firefighting instructor of the Royal Netherlands Air Force, in collaboration with the firefighting training institute BOGO. The airplane firefighting training exercise for instructors lasted 9 days, of which one day was devoted to theory and the remaining days were practical days.
During the simulation, emphasis was also placed on cooperation with other services, such as red cross, ambulance, police and the KMar.