In the Netherlands, petrochemical and other chemical industries in the Seveso categories, nuclear facilities, container terminals and marshalling yards may be obliged to have a company-owned firefighting unit. These specialised units prepare to deal with the risk profile and likely incident scenarios of the company. The minimum requirements regarding vehicles, equipment and personnel are prescribed by the local safety authorities.
The capacities of these industrial units might also be useful for assisting with industrial incidents outside their own site, and even outside their own region. However, so far, no arrangements have been made for this private firefighting capacity to provide interregional assistance. The Netherlands Fire Service and industrial companies have therefore joined forces to develop a set of arrangements.
To this end, the literature regarding public-private partnerships (PPPs) was examined. The goal was to identify organisational constructs and do's and don'ts. Secondly, the thirteen existing regional PPPs in the Netherlands, as well as 4 international PPP constructs were analysed. Thirdly, interviews were taken with the main spokespeople of the Netherlands Fire Service and the private companies, as well as some relevant advisory bodies, to discover their wishes and constraints.
These three research activities provided us with the elements to fuel a lively discussion between the Netherlands Fire Service and the industry. The discussions concerned the routing of the request for involving the private partners, liability and responsibility issues, who is in charge, and the roles of the various response teams and of course, financial issues as well.
The results of the discussion formed the basis for an interregional public-private partnership for industrial incidents that is currently being implemented in the Netherlands.