More professionals in the fire services

22/11/2004 10:00

The composition of the workforce in the fire services has changed substantially in the period 1964-2004. Most notably, there has been a shift from voluntary to professional firemen and women. In 2004 nearly one in five firemen and women are paid professionals. Forty years ago this was only one in fourteen.

Municipal fire services workforce, 1964 and 2004

Municipal fire services workforce, 1964 and 2004

Number of fire fighters hardly changed

The total number of firemen and women has hardly changed in the last forty years. In 2004 a total 27 thousand people were employed by municipal fire services, one thousand more than in 1964, while the population of the Netherlands grew from 12 to over 16 million in the same period. As a result the number of fire fighters per one hundred thousand inhabitants has fallen to 166.

More professionals in large cities

The four large cities have an average 467 fire men and women per municipality in 2004, about the same number as four decades ago. In contrasts to the national picture the number of firemen and women per 100 thousand inhabitants rose by 13 to 90.

Just over eight out of ten fire men and women in the four large cities are professionals, compared with just over half forty years ago.

Firemen and women per hundred thousand inhabitants by province, 1964 and 2004

Firemen and women per hundred thousand inhabitants by province, 1964 and 2004

Strong fall in Friesland and Zeeland

In all provinces the number of fire men and women per 100 thousand inhabitants was lower in 2004 than in 1964. Although the decrease was largest in Friesland and Zeeland (- 41%), these provinces still have the most firemen per 100 thousand inhabitants. Flevoland has the smallest number per 100 thousand inhabitants: 128.

More women fire-fighters

In 2004 municipal fire services employed 1,225 women – both on a professional and voluntary basis. Women now account for nearly 5 percent of the fire services workforce. In 1989 only around a hundred women were employed by the municipal fire services. The number of professional female fire fighters rose from 13 to 201 in the space of fifteen years.

The number of firemen and women in the middle or higher ranks has risen by half: one quarter of fire fighters now hold these positions.

Wim Vissers