Never traveling, every day at the barracks: fire brigade volunteer Stany (66) responds for the very last time (Beerse)

Never traveling, every day at the barracks: fire brigade volunteer Stany (66) responds for the very last time (Beerse)
Never traveling, every day at the barracks: fire brigade volunteer Stany (66) responds for the very last time (Beerse)
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“Stany does everything here,” says Manu Canters of the Beerse fire station, part of the Taxandria emergency zone. Stany Verhoeven blew out 66 candles earlier this week, which means that the firefighter will have to hang up his helmet on March 31 after 41 years. As is tradition, a team of the volunteer corps picked him up at home ‘by surprise’ on Saturday evening and took him to the barracks on Bisschopslaan, where he had to carry out his last assignment in front of the entire team and sympathizers: put out a fire in a barrel and freeing a trapped person from a car.

Stany in action on his last ‘assignment’ in the barracks. — © Hans Otten

Before the happy entrance, Post Commander Captain Jacques Van Gils and Manu Canters explain that Stany cannot in fact be removed from the barracks. “He came to live especially close to the barracks,” says the duo. “He easily comes here five times a day. He does everything, from taking out the rubbish bins, arranging logistics to checking whether the vehicles are still in order. Stany has never been on holiday in all those decades. And when he applied for work, the companies that did not allow him to respond to the fire brigade were rejected. He is actually somewhat indispensable to us, but we think he will miss the fire brigade even more.”

“He came to live especially close to the barracks. He comes here easily five times a day and takes care of everything”

Jacques Van Gils

Postmaster

Stany Verhoeven became a firefighter in the summer of 1983, and in 2004 he was given the title of corporal. He was always present at (regional) training days and he often participated with the brigade in international fire brigade competitions in Denmark, Finland and Croatia, among others. These appear to have been the only trips abroad he made in his life. During his career he became proficient in all possible techniques, from gas suits to the measuring team to the driver of all vehicles. That’s what it’s called a passion.

“The fire brigade is a microbe, it has been my life for 41 years,” says Stany Verhoeven himself. “I was also fortunate that I was able to retire fairly early from work. I am always with the first team to leave. When I started in the fire brigade, for most firefighters it was their only hobby, besides playing football. Of course, I can also consider myself very fortunate that my wife has always supported me in this. No, traveling just never appealed to me. If I had won a trip somewhere, I would simply not have told it at home.”

Last week

In fact, Stany had to retire last year, but he was allowed to add another year. It is a great frustration that he is now ‘forced’ to stop. “I would really like to add a few more years. Conditionally, I am in top condition and fitter than many younger men in the force. But how much my post superior and the mayor (Bart Craane, ed.) have also done their best to plead my case, I have to stop now. That really hurts me. I’m really going to fall into that black hole now. But my last week of service was a beautiful one, with an intervention every day and a major fire in Turnhout (in the Polish store in the Korte Gasthuisstraat, ed.), where we saved four people with our ladder truck. That’s why you do it.”

The entire Beerse corps waves goodbye to Stany Verhoeven.

The entire Beerse corps waves goodbye to Stany Verhoeven. — © Hans Otten

Free a trapped person? Just tap the side window with your elbow.

Free a trapped person? Just tap the side window with your elbow. — © Hans Otten

© Hans Otten

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