My work as a fireman

I became a fireman at the age of 21 untill the age of 55, so there are here some stories to tell. Here i write the stories i remember from my days as a professional rescue diver and fireman. I was rescue diver  the first 18 years of my career. I loved every day of it. Each day of my shift was like a challence and i remember the winters where the hardest jobs for me. When a call came in you had to leave your warm bed and just minutes after i searched the ice cold water of the rivers and canals of Amsterdam, trying to find a person or car with my colleague diver. It was always a nasty moment when the old dive suits those days  filled  with the ice cold water and it took some minutes before this water warmed by your body temparture. This where the moments i thought every time: 'Is this what i like? Why did i choose for this work? Seconds later there was no more time to think and you went to the bottom of the ice cold canal. One of the details we learned if we had to dive in cold water. Just urinate in your suit to have a warm moment below the surface. Fighting a fire is more easy mentally as Diver.

As a diver your work was alone in the dark water with only the sound of your breath and bubbles, the only connection for orientation is a rope from your standby diver on the shore of the canal. Fireman in general work in teams of 5 or 7 man. Good communication, mostly outside, but there are always risks. I lost 2  friends in a fire. Lost one of my dive mates in my career. Lost myself almost. But this are different stories. What i can say is that the job i choose when i was 21 years old, made me the man i am now.  On the picture i am 52 it was 2009 and i had trouble getting old. Painted my hair, shaved my body and did my workout every day. Even asked a colleague once in a while to shave my back. Almost lost everything! It looks like i am a macho man, but i am the opposite, it was just my late midlife crisis. If you see me now you can't believe it's just 5 years ago. In my humble opinion i am the example of how life can affect a human being, and if you take some time to read more of my stories i hope you get the whole picture. Talk to you later.



The money job

There we are in the middle of a house full of money. This picture was taken by the police, because we asked for it. From left to right my colleagues: Jack, Willem, Frank and me. It was 1982.I think it was 1982 on a normal shift in my third year that i was a fireman.


Casa Rosso

Today i like to write about one of the most difficult days in my career as a professional firefighter in Amsterdam. I emphasize it is only one of many. It was 16 December 1983. That morning i had to go to another station to fill in a open number as a colleague was sick. The firestation at the Dapperstreet in Amsterdam is much smaller as my own. We have 6 trucks and plenty of room.


My friend Carmelo

A great guy with amazing humor it is long ago but sometimes he is in my head. I remember his accent and he is more often in my mind from the day my son died in september last year. Sometimes i think they are together but no one knows if this is true.


My dive training

After a year of work as a fireman, it was 1980, i was 22 years old. Married for two years with my lovely wife Marja she is now 56 and i am 57.  An officer came on the station and asked if there was anyone who would like to be a diver. I told him i don't like swimming. He said thats okay you have to sink.


Back from the dead

As it was me who took the pictures mostly. I can't find any ,of myself as rescue diver unfortunately. from 1981 - 1999 it was my job as a fireman. The story i gonna tell you is, again, a special moment in my life. Although i was not the one who saved his life, but i was the one he said thank you to. I remember it was an easy day at the fire station, but forgot the year it happened.


My first luck

I have many experience with luck, i guess i am a lucky guy when it goes about my job as a fireman or diver. I like to tell you a day i remember it was one of my first experience with my luck. I learned a lot that day. One of my first fires in Amsterdam, it was in the middle of the old centre at the red light district. Sorry can not find any pictures of it.


Like a zombie

I have to dig deep in my mind as the jobs i did are in my memory, but they are on a spot far away, so i can live with it without problems i believe. I am not doing it deliberately but it is in my nature. It's the way i can live with them i think. I never saw so many experienced firemen young and old freeze for minutes. This is certainly a great story to tell with so far as i know a happy end.


Saved by a voice

 This story is about me as a fireman on the ladder truck. Every morning at 8:00 a.m. when the shift starts, fireman in holland receive their task for the 24 hour they are working in. It was my task that day to rescue people with the ladder truck. I am a driver to but for some reason i was the "chef" as we call the number, of the ladder truck.