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.
The firestation at the dapperstreet has only 2 trucks and no room at all. You can click on the pictures below to see the difference of the two fire stations. It is one of the oldest stations in Amsterdam called Victor and was build in 1912. With my friend Jack it was our job to rescue people for the next 24 hours. I will explain in another story how our shifts are organized every 24 hour. Casa Rosso is one of the most famous sexclubs in Amsterdam here you can read all about this club. Casa Rosso was one of the best secured and save clubs for the people to go that time. But it was also an example, (we learned a lot of this tragedy), even when you have the savest house in Amsterdam, you can not defeat everything. Here is the story: That morning an employee was fired by the staff. The angry employee returned in the afternoon with a can of petrol and a gun. He knew the way so het sprinkled the petrol all over the club and start shooting to flame it. The way this was done there was no security system in the world who could saved the people inside. The fire was so fast by the way it started, there was no escape. The first attack was not for our station. Many Trucks from different fire stations worked till late. After the message "fire under control" our station went to the incident to replace our tired collegues. There where several wounded people but no loss of lives. Sixteen people where serious wounded. When our truck arrived to put out the small fires i remember it was dark allready when i stood for the entrance of the club. I walked in with Jack just to check the place, jack went right, i left. We both had our flashlights and crowbar with us. Many lines where going in the building. Our fire boat was in front of the club and brought the water needed for our work. It was a big entrance i mean really deep. I never was here before, so it made quite an impression on me.
More left i found some closed curtains, you always look behind them. Some closed doors with small windows where behind the curtains, i remember it was real dark in the room behind the door, so i took my flashlight and tried to see something throught the windows with the light of it. My first impression was it was a kind of a storage room with many things. Saw a pile of dummy's and more around like the one they use in shop windows. A pole table thrown on it side. There was a small stage just behind the door when i opened the doors. This momentt i never forget it was the moment i saw the dummy's where people. I called my mate Jack and we went in. The doors they closed every time as you walked in, it was because of the heavy curtains this happend, they where very close to the doors. So when we entered it became black as hell with only the light our flashlights. The floor behind the doors was on the same level as you went in, but it was a stage so after 10 feet 2,5 meter it dropped 1,5 feet 40 centimeters, i remember it was quite a step but i am small. The first thing i noticed: I saw the people who where laying there they had no fire wounds no one. Everyone died here from the cause of no air to breath. They choked all of them. We found 13 people in the room, a mix of employees and clients i believe. From different countries. At the end of the room there was a door it seems an exit but was locked. Many scratches i saw on this door as they struglled to open it in their fight for air together. Behind this door was the entrance of the club and just 20 feet away from outside. In their panic they turned to the right i think against the curtains opened the door went in and dropped from the stage, this all in the dark and with smoke everywhere, difficult to breath. It is because of the stage in my opinion and the curtains who closed at once this tragedy happenend. It is always easy after an incident what to do to make it not happen. Our team assisted with the bodies. We went back to our station, to sleep.........it was my fourth year as a fireman i was 25 years old. Talk to you next time.