Author: Caroline Vlietstra

‘Last year we rescued celebrity Lil’ Kleine from an elevator.’

Amsterdam has had a professional fire service since 1874, making it the oldest in the Netherlands. Of course, a lot has changed since then. For example, look at the Zuidas…

Amsterdam has had a professional fire service since 1874, making it the oldest in the Netherlands. Of course, a lot has changed since then. For example, look at the Zuidas area with its high rises. How can the fire service adapt to these new buildings? And what is a day like for these firefighters? We talked to 48 year old Peter Westerbeek, a supervisor at fire station Dirk.

Station Dirk is located in Amsterdam South, on the corner of Houthorststraat and Hobbemakade. It is the oldest operational fire station in Europe. Amsterdam-Amstelland’s fire service is responsible for the (fire) safety of the nearly one million people. Every day, at least 90 firefighters are on duty here, ready to serve the people of Amsterdam. In combination with the six voluntary stations, the total number of firefighters is 160.

Peter Westerbeek’s crew consists of eight people. He calls this his second family. “Together with my colleagues, we work 24-hour shifts, which means that we start at 8am and say goodbye at 8am the next day. We do this two days a week, so we have 48 hours of sleeping, eating and living together. You could say that Station Dirk is my second home.”

Productivity

You are mistaken if you think firefighters sit around and wait till they get called out. “We work around the clock. After the morning briefing, we perform vehicle and equipment checks. That’s our daily routine. Maybe the previous crew was called out, and a crowbar or something was left behind.”

“After we complete the check-ups, and the station is clean, it is time for our daily exercise. We take a run through the Vondelpark, for example. We take the truck and all our gear and go running together for at least an hour and a half. Each of us is super fit. We have to be because we are regularly submitted to the beady eyes of a strict doctor. If you fail their tests, they follow you up until you succeed and pass the tests.”

House calls and exercises

“Members of the crew take turns to cook and prepare lunches. We spend afternoons doing house calls and exercises. During these house calls, the firemen and women visit people and explain safety measures and distribute smoke detectors.

“Some people are surprised when they open their doors. Some don’t believe that we are real firefighters,” Peter says, smiling. “But we can always point out our fire engine. And if that doesn’t help, we can always identify ourselves.”

The crew visits commercial and public properties as well. In the area around Station Dirk there are several iconic buildings, such as the Rijksmuseum, the concert hall and the Van Gogh museum.

“For each of those buildings, we have a specific plan of action in case of an emergency. We need to know where the emergency exits and the fire hydrants are. We check the plans regularly, and we are shown around the sites by the in-house emergency officers. The Rijksmuseum, home to Rembrandt’s The Night Watch, is, of course, a unique building. Our priority is saving humans and animals, obviously, but for a beautiful place with such precious pieces of art, we go one step further to save valuable contents. Luckily for The Night Watch, it has a special construction so that in the unfortunate case of a fire we can hopefully save it.”

EMA, Courthouse and nhow

Peter’s team recently had an orientation around Zuidas. “We paid a visit to EMA, the European Medical Agency. Now we know exactly where we can find the escape routes and how to connect to the water supply.”

“Everything worked out perfectly. During a calamity, our briefcases are ready with handsets and floor plans, so we know where to find the technical equipment. We have done the same thing at Amsterdam Rai Hotel. This building might look complicated from the outside, but the inside has one central point, so the guests know how to escape.”

Some of the buildings in the Zuidas are up to 70 metres high. No ladder reaches to the top.

“Our tallest ladder has a height of 24 metres. That is sufficient for the centre of Amsterdam but not for the Zuidas. At best it will take you to the sixth floor. It means that we would have to perform all rescues from the inside of the sixth floor. We’ve had a recent experience of this situation in the new Courthouse. An employee got trapped on the seventh floor, under a wooden construction, but our ladder only reached the third floor because of the height of the building’s levels. Orientation visits are essential to get this sort of knowledge beforehand.”

Firefighters deal with a lot more than just fires, they manage resuscitations as well. “That happens at least two or three times a week. We had one recently at ABN AMRO’s main office. Resuscitation is part of our job, but it does have an enormous impact. We have to talk to and support each other in order to carry on.”

Naturally, it is not all disasters for Station Dirk. There are also minor cases. Some can be laughed about, and there is, of course, false alarms.

“Most offices at Zuidas have their restaurants on the upper floors, the best location to have Thursday afternoon drinks. It often happens that an employee sets off the fire alarm on the fourteenth floor. The emergency room immediately gets a call, and they notify the reception in the building, and they have to go up and check. The receptionist has to climb the stairs, all fourteen flights of them, because during a fire alarm the elevators are shut down automatically. This receptionist has to report back within two minutes. If not, the nearest station is alarmed, in which case we are called out for what we presume to be a priority stage 1 alarm.”

Sometimes, Peter gets to tell exciting stories when he returns home from duty. “Last year we rescued celebrity Lil’ Kleine from an elevator at Zuidas. He was stuck inside it with his girlfriend and baby. To make matters worse, it was the hottest day of the year! But before I got back into our truck, I realized I wanted to capture the moment because my children are big fans. As I had forgotten my mobile, Lil’ Kleine took a shot with his phone of the two of us together. Imagine! My kids, 10 and 13, went crazy.”

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Compliance as a passion

Tom van de Laar was born in Noort-Brabant, studied in Maastricht and started his career at Zuidas law firm CMS. The young lawyer loved sinking his teeth into difficult cases….

Tom van de Laar was born in Noort-Brabant, studied in Maastricht and started his career at Zuidas law firm CMS. The young lawyer loved sinking his teeth into difficult cases. Still, he decided to make a radical career change; he completed a master’s degree in Compliance & Integrity Management at VU Amsterdam and discovered where his passion lies.

 

When looking at Tom van de Laar’s impressive CV, you’d be inclined to think he is a middle-aged man with many decades of work experience. On the contrary: Tom is only 38 and the proud father of a one-year old girl. He and his partner live in Amsterdam – the most beautiful city on the planet, according to Tom.

“I grew up in the southern town of Helmond and studied law in Maastricht”, he says. “After graduating, CMS Netherlands offered me a job in criminal law. At the time, their office was in a building near the Amstel River so I moved to Amsterdam and found a small apartment on Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, just around the corner from Dam Square. And to be honest, from day one I took Amsterdam to my heart.”

Challenging cases

Tom stayed at CMS Netherlands for more than seven years and divided his time between their offices in Utrecht and Amsterdam. “I had a great time at CMS and loved sinking my teeth into difficult cases. Initially, in order to gain experience, I mainly worked on civil offence cases. Later on I specialized in financial and economic criminal law, focusing on occupational accidents, money laundering, investment fraud, environmental criminal law, and health & safety incidents. These were generally big, complex and challenging cases, exactly what I wanted.”

“I’ll give you an example of a case: let’s say an accident happened in a chemical plant. If it is a serious accident, it must be reported to the authorities and it will be investigated as a criminal case. You can offer the client legal advice but you could also try to convince the CEO, CFO and CRO to change the company’s policy and improve its safety standards in order to make it compliant. So compliance is all about processes and behaviour aimed at reducing risks. A kind of safety belt, as it were.”

Increasing demands

Although Tom loved working on criminal cases, he realized his heart lies with compliance. He wanted to find out how organizations could achieve their core objectives in a responsible manner. “They are facing ever-increasing demands. Moreover, organizations themselves are implementing internal integrity standards in order to minimize risks. This means there is a need for compliance officers.”

“That’s why I decided to enrol for the executive master’s programme in Compliance & Integrity Management at VU Amsterdam. To me, the VU was a logical choice: this is the only university where compliance is taught in all its broad aspects and this programme is highly regarded. For two years, I was attending lectures every other Monday from 15:00 to 21:00 hours.”

Ethics

“The programme enables you to study compliance in a broad context as it involves much more than just regulation. You also need to look at internal standards, risk management, behaviour, and how to deploy technology in order to comply with the rules and meet expectations from society. Compliance issues are not only about legal matters; ethics and risk assessment play an important role as well.”

Upon completing the two-year master’s programme Tom was granted the title of Certified Executive Compliance & Integrity Manager (ECIM). “I was the only lawyer in my class. Well, the switch I made wasn’t exactly an obvious one. Halfway through my studies I left CMS and made my professional start in the field of compliance at the Japanese Mizuho Bank. Then after another two years I moved to Deloitte, working at their Zuidas headquarters. Sometimes you just have to grab an opportunity when you see one.”

Back to the VU

The alumnus was asked to return to the VU as a lecturer. “That was a no-brainer for me. I was a student here and now I have the privilege to teach a subject I’m passionate about: compliance. Every other Monday I’m teaching and sharing my practical experience with my students. You’ll understand that this was another opportunity I simply couldn’t let go.”

Fast forward a few years and he is now working for Rabobank, where everything has come together in his current role as Global AML & Sanction Officer. “I’m responsible for the bank’s policy on the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing, and on avoiding sanctions violations. It’s the most interesting job of my life!”

Tom has been a Rabobank employee for two years now, commuting from Amsterdam to their headquarters in Utrecht. At the moment, next to his busy job and his position as a lecturer, Tom conducts PhD research into the integrity and leadership of organizations. He expects to obtain his doctorate, the highest possible academic degree, within four years.

Are you interested in a Compliance Management programme or another executive master’s programme offered by VU Amsterdam? Then come and visit our Open Evening on Thursday 19 November. Please register via our website: https://ee.sbe.vu.nl/nl

 

VU Amsterdam

School of Business and Economics

https://ee.sbe.vu.nl/nl

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‘The Zuidas needs green space and a sports club’

      After almost sixty years, Amsterdamsche Football Club – better known as AFC – has left their trusted old clubhouse and moved down the road into a state-of-the-art…

 

 

 

After almost sixty years, Amsterdamsche Football Club – better known as AFC – has left their trusted old clubhouse and moved down the road into a state-of-the-art new home, fitted with all mod cons, sustainable, and offering plenty of opportunity for the club to grow.

AFC, Amsterdam’s oldest and biggest football club, boasts a rich history. They played their first match in 1895, on a pitch between the ponds in the Vondelpark. In 1906, the club moved to the Watergraafsmeer, near the farmstead Goed Genoeg (‘Good Enough’), which later gave its name to the current AFC grounds. In 1920, AFC played their matches at a complex near the Zuidelijke Wandelweg. In 1962, the club moved to the Zuidas and has stayed here ever since.

Since that final move in 1962, Ad Westerhof has been part of the AFC family. First as a player, subsequently as a board member of the club for the past 21 years – the last six of those serving as chairman. During all these years, he has seen volunteers and coaches come and go, and seen shy little players grow into confident young men.

Zuidas

“When AFC came here, this area was not yet known as Zuidas,” Ad says. “Back then, the area between the Schinkel canal and the Amstel River was the business quarter of Amsterdam Zuid. From the 90s onwards the big law firms, banks, AkzoNobel and the WTC moved here. That’s when the name Zuidas was coined.”

“That was also the moment we had to start thinking about the future of our sports complex. Fortunately, AFC will be able to continue playing here at Zuidas. The pitches and the brand-new clubhouse are located in an area a bit further north. To the south, a new construction project for 1,500 houses is taking place. This way, AFC will be able to build a future and realize its ambitions as a club.”

New meeting place

The charming old clubhouse, full of history, will be taken down, but the famous old wooden plaque, reading ‘Het sieraad van een huis zijn de vrienden die er verkeren’ – ‘The beauty of a home are the friends that visit it’ – has been given a prominent place on one of the walls of the new facility. Well, from now on those friends will be able to meet at the dazzling new clubhouse designed by architect Paul de Ruiter.

“Our new clubhouse is fitted with all mod cons: solar panels, an integrated covered grandstand and more dressing rooms than we had before, all with their own showers. Our old home was full of charm, but it needed a lot of urgent maintenance work including things like safety glass.”

Artificial grass

Not only the old clubhouse will disappear, however: AFC’s famous grass pitches, seven in all, have been replaced by five pitches with artificial grass. “We opted for artificial grass as we want to give all of our 130 teams the chance to play football. An artificial pitch simply allows many more hours of use than a regular grass pitch. We started work on the main pitch and the clubhouse, and the entire complex was ready by the end of the summer.”   

AFC is home to 130 teams and that makes them the biggest amateur football club in the Netherlands. Last season, their first team was crowned champions of the Dutch Second Division. AFC is a club with status and held in high esteem for a good reason. 

Best amateur football club

“For the 7th year running, De Voetbaltrainer magazine voted AFC the best amateur football club out of all the 3,000 football clubs in the Netherlands. That makes us immensely proud but we’re not doing this to collect awards. We simply want to run our club to the best of our abilities and develop it further. The volunteers are very committed AFC members, full of energy and driven to succeed. AFC is a well-organized football club.”

With 70 football coaches and 300 volunteers, all screened and in possession of a certificate of good conduct (VOG), AFC is a big club. “Our waiting lists are very long, especially for young players.”

Dutch celebrities

If you are coming down here to watch a game of football on a Saturday or Sunday, you’ll probably see a lot of Dutch celebrities along the touchline. “A lot of well-known Dutch people are living in this area and they come here to support their children when they’re playing a match. No, I’m not going to tell you who they are. They have a right to privacy.”

The Zuidas area is the most expensive piece of land in the country, estimated at a value of around 1.5 billion euros. “It’s absolutely marvellous that the city of Amsterdam allows AFC to stay here. On the other hand, I think they are quite happy with us. After all, the Zuidas needs green space and a sports club. By the way, during the week our pitches are used by local schools.”

“We’ve concluded a lease agreement with the city council for the next 25 years, with an option for an additional 25 years. But if the land prices keep going up at the current rate, we will have to wait and see what happens. This area is changing fast and we know AFC might not be in this carefree position forever, but at the moment we’re simply looking forward to using our new clubhouse and our brand new pitches.”

 

Picture by Katja Mali

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Join the discussion about new green along De Boelelaan

Have you noticed them already, the human-sized question marks along the De Boelelaan Midden? They are there for a reason of course. The Zuidas department of the City of Amsterdam…

Have you noticed them already, the human-sized question marks along the De Boelelaan Midden? They are there for a reason of course. The Zuidas department of the City of Amsterdam has started preparations for the refurbishment of De Boelelaan Midden (located between Beethovenstraat and Parnassusweg).

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Feiten en cijfers Zuidas

Zuidas, het gebied dat ligt tussen Schiphol en de Amsterdamse binnenstad, tussen de wijken Buitenveldert en Oud Zuid en natuurgebieden Nieuwe Meer en Amstel, is constant in ontwikkeling en is…

Zuidas, het gebied dat ligt tussen Schiphol en de Amsterdamse binnenstad, tussen de wijken Buitenveldert en Oud Zuid en natuurgebieden Nieuwe Meer en Amstel, is constant in ontwikkeling en is de laatste jaren enorm gegroeid. Hier wat feiten en cijfers op een rij.

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Happy, busy bees at Zuidas

Not only there are the sky-high office complexes built at Zuidas, but there is a concern for the bees as well. So, Zuidas has built up to 19 Bee Hotels…

Not only there are the sky-high office complexes built at Zuidas, but there is a concern for the bees as well. So, Zuidas has built up to 19 Bee Hotels in the area. It is an award-winning project to green the city. The solitary bee has a crucial role, and oak wood is the best material, is what the designers of these hotels can tell us.

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Zuidas won’t lean back

Like so many other entrepreneurs, shop owners at Zuidas are having a difficult time during the Coronacrisis. To sit back is not an option. Several restaurants at Zuidas started home…

Like so many other entrepreneurs, shop owners at Zuidas are having a difficult time during the Coronacrisis. To sit back is not an option.

Several restaurants at Zuidas started home delivery services, now, flowers, tailored suits and wines can also be delivered to the front door.

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The sound of violins in Zuidas on Woningsdag

On Woningsdag 2020 (a play on words that turns King’s Day into Home Day), three violinists will treat Zuidas to mini concerts at 13.00, 14.00 and 15.00h. They will be…

On Woningsdag 2020 (a play on words that turns King’s Day into Home Day), three violinists will treat Zuidas to mini concerts at 13.00, 14.00 and 15.00h. They will be drawing their bows across the strings on the roofs of Intermezzo and the Gershwin Brothers, and in the courtyard garden of Xavier.

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The construction of the Zuidasdok project in Amsterdam may cost 1 billion euros more, according to the NOS yesterday. Moreover, a letter from Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen to the House…

The construction of the Zuidasdok project in Amsterdam may cost 1 billion euros more, according to the NOS yesterday. Moreover, a letter from Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen to the House of Representatives reveals that the large-scale construction project is once again being delayed.

Construction had initially been planned for nine years. But even before the first shovel hit the ground, the prestigious project was delayed. One of the reasons for this was the complexity of the project, with many tunnels in a small area.

Because of the delays, the cabinet had the project investigated by a committee led by former minister Sybilla Dekker. It now concludes that the project must go ahead at all costs. “Doing nothing is not an option,” she advises. Otherwise there will be too many traffic jams on the highway and at the public transport.

In view of the complexity, the project should be divided into small parts, Dekker advises. The last part will then be completed between 2032 and 2036, which is four years later than planned at the earliest. But all this also costs more money. The budget deficit is now estimated at between 700 million and 1 billion euros.

Source: www.nos.nl

Update:

From an article that newspaper NRC Saturday 28 March devoted to the developments on the Zuidasdok, it appears that the expansion of Station Zuid in particular has high priority. The number of passengers grew by 47 percent in the last year. Partly due to the arrival of international trains, 300,000 passengers per day are expected here in due course instead of the current 80,000, according to NRC.

Walter Etty, chairman of passenger organisation Rover, even calls the situation dangerous. “People are falling off the platform, it’s so crowded there.

Two professors, the economists Coen Teulings and Henri de Groot, who were consulted by Dekker, find the plans for two additional tracks too modest. They advocate eight tracks.

In her advice, former minister Dekker concludes that the national prosperity will only benefit if the Zuidasdok project is completed. Bureau Decisio calculated that two billion in costs would be offset by 2.1 billion in benefits.

According to a spokesman for the municipality of Amsterdam, the municipality is now entering into talks with the national government. The agreement is that Amsterdam will pay a quarter of the extra costs, and that the government will pay the rest. Dekker expects that politicians will agree to the extra billion, because the transport hub is of national importance. “You don’t solve anything by stopping, especially in times of crisis,” she says to NRC.

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‘We lift it safely or we do not lift at all’

28 The largest Dutch courthouse, the New Amsterdam Courthouse, is undergoing a complete renovation. It is a project being headed up by Heijmans, a leader in the construction industry. Amer Mahmutovic…

28

The largest Dutch courthouse, the New Amsterdam Courthouse, is undergoing a complete renovation. It is a project being headed up by Heijmans, a leader in the construction industry. Amer Mahmutovic is a crane operator, and one of the many people working on the site.

This interview took some preparation as we needed to go high up. I met him at ground level, wearing who wears the expected combination of work shoes, hi-vis jacket and hardhat. From this staggering height. Firstly, we went up three levels on a ladder, and then a further three levels via an elevator. Once sixty five metres above ground, we were in a cabin, from where Amer is key to the realization of the renovated courthouse.

Before we set foot in the tiny space, we changed our shoes for slippers. Once inside, the hand-held vacuum cleaner, baby wipes and bottles of surface and window cleanser reveal his love of a tidy workspace.

Enormous crane

Up until last year, Amer was a driving instructor. Nowadays he is operating the enormous crane we find ourselves near the top of.

“I was fed up with giving driving lessons; youngsters have changed so much. So, I re-trained to become a crane operator,” he says. “I had to get used to life in the construction industry. And in my case, this is quite a lonely life, being up here. I was always used to always having a student sitting next to me. But, this isolation is for the best, because for this job you need to be fully concentrated at all times.” 

Amer has been working as a crane operator for eight months.  His first job was contributing to the building of the nhow Amsterdam Rai Hotel (the one with the three triangles). He is currently watching the New Amsterdam Courthouse grow beneath him at a great speed from a dizzying height.

“Whether I am lifting a beam, a wire construction, a block of concrete or braided concrete, it all adds something to the Courthouse. Sometimes it is a serious piece of craftsmanship if I might say, with real military precision. But at the end of the day, that gives me my satisfaction. On the other hand, it is a hazardous job. Everything here is about safety.

Carefull

When working with this kind of machinery, you have to be careful, we lift it safely or we do not lift at all! Do you see those other two cranes over there? My colleagues and I are in touch constantly via radio. However, on the rare occasion our booms are too close, they are brought to a halt automatically, just like the automatic distance device in the latest cars.” 

Amer’s crane weighs 32 tons. When dual wired, the boom (the long, moving arm) can hoist up to eight tons, and, when four wired, at least sixteen tons, which is comparable to the weight of ten cars.
As well as taking into account the weight, there are also weather factors to consider, like wind.

“Everything here is checked, checked again, and then triple checked. From the moment I start to lift, it is all about millimetres. With the utmost accuracy, I hand the boys down there their goods. They advise me via their radios. Another two metres, one more, fifty centimetres, thirty, ten, etc. Though I am physically secluded, we have to work together as a team in order to avoid accidents.”

 

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