The specialties of the Civil Protection are divided into four groups, called "clusters":
- CBRN = Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear
- SAR = Search And Rescue
- HTD = Heavy Technical Deployment
- ICM = Information & Communication management
Each cluster has its own procedures, equipment and specialised personnel and is headed by a cluster manager.
Thanks to this organization, the two units offer a similar service quality throughout the territory to carry out missions that require specific expertise.
The interventions are always led by an intervention officer, who can, if necessary, call on the specialised resources of the clusters. That way, resources from different clusters can be activated for a single intervention.
CBRN stands for "Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear". It includes all the resources that can be used in the event of industrial, road or other accidents involving chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear hazardous products.
For this purpose, the Civil Protection has specialised equipment such as a measuring vehicle and a mobile laboratory. An initial analysis of samples can thus be carried out directly in the field in order to make the right operational decisions quickly.
SAR stands for “Search And Rescue”. This includes the means that can be used to locate missing persons or to free people who are trapped or in difficulty.
For this purpose, the Civil Protection uses, among other things, divers, lifeboats, dog handlers and heavy equipment for tracing, locating and freeing survivors under the rubble and even equipment for supporting speleo-assistance.
More information on the Belgian Civil Protection’s canine teams is available here.
The USAR teams deploy for instance rescue dogs to search the rubble. Besides, they also have specialized equipment to localize and rescue people buried under the rubble, such as telescopic cameras that can be shoved in the rubble and sound equipment to trace sounds under the rubble.
Resources from the HTD cluster or "Heavy Technical Deployment" can be used in case of severe flooding, heavy fire fighting, power cuts or to support other interventions.
For this purpose, the Civil Protection has, among other things, power generators, water cannons and heavy pumps to pump up large amounts of water and mud. The units also have stocks of foam-forming products, material to control water, material to transport water over a long distance and material to extinguish forest fires.
The ICM cluster stands for "Information and Communication Management". The resources of this cluster can be used to provide communication and information between the services involved and for coordination in case of events, incidents and crises.
For this purpose, the Civil Protection has a mobile operation and coordination base, means of telecommunication and drones and robots to observe a situation and carry out measurements.