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Accidents with hazardous substances are rare, but can have a major impact on people and the environment. Hence the importance of an adapted approach. The fire brigade in Belgium is organised into 35 zones that provide assistance to citizens and businesses. Certain specialised operational services are organised beyond the limits of the zones. One of these provides know-how with a view to a smooth, safe and adequate response to accidents with hazardous substances.

About 75 social workers from Flanders, Brussels and Wallonia with a scientific or applied-scientific (university) background have been trained in recent years to become ‘hazardous substances advisers’ (HSA). This group of specialists mainly consists of fire brigade personnel, but also employees from other government departments and private companies participate. These ‘hazardous substances advisers’ assist the fire brigade officer in the field of intervention with specialist knowledge.

essenscia supports the fire brigade’s initiative to tackle these accidents with a high degree of specialisation. Financial support is provided by the sector for the purchase of 6 specially-equipped intervention vehicles and for the postgraduate training as an ‘adviser on hazardous substances’ at the universities of Antwerp and Mons, which are responsible for the training of the HSA staff.