Risen from the ashes

Monday 10 December 2018
Despite an all-consuming fire, the activities of Kooijman Gorinchem Berging & Transport were not halted for a single moment. Shortly after midnight on 8 November, fire broke out in the company storage warehouse and offices on the Marconiweg in Gorinchem. When founder Arie Kooijman (84) and his son Gert arrived at the scene, thirty minutes later, it was clear that no part of the building could be saved.

Arie Kooijman in de uitgebrande vestiging in Gorinchem

Arie Kooijman in the burned-out premises in Gorinchem (photographs: Rogier Bos)

Nonetheless, the ‘Kooijmen’ and their staff succeeded in rescuing three recovery vehicles from the flames. They had fortunately been parked behind a fence to the side of the building. Arie Kooijman was able to persuade the fire brigade that it was safe to drive these vehicles away, if the fire fighters were willing to damp down the side wall of the building with their hoses. No sooner said than done.

Één van de bergingsvoertuigen die konden worden gered

One of the three rescued recovery vehicles

In the subsequent days, the company was able to continue its recovery activities around Gorinchem, without interruption. The planning and administration activities were transferred to the head office in Vianen. Recovery drivers stayed in the cabs of the surviving recovery vehicles outside the doors of the burned-out building. They received their orders from Vianen, via their mobile telephones.

Ilona Ros (L) en Trudy Spronk (derde van links) in het mobiele kantoor in Spijk

Ilona Ros (L) and Trudy Spronk (third from left) at the mobile office in Spijk

The management of Kooijman immediately launched a search for replacement accommodation which was soon found on the other side of the A15 motorway, in Spijk. They were able to rent a large warehouse on the site of the Spijkse Metaalhandel Van den Heuvel. The recovery operators moved into these premises on 13 November. They were followed on 16 November by the planning and administration department, after a mobile office was installed in the warehouse.

Arie Kooijman geflankeerd door Gijs van Lith (L) en Wesley Hol in de nieuwe vestiging in Spijk

Arie Kooijman flanked by Gijs van Lith (L) and Wesley Hol at the new premises in Spijk

Kooijman aims to have the new location certified as quickly as possible. Nonetheless, the premises in Spijk will remain temporary. The company has plans to build completely new premises for the recovery and transport activities in the Gorinchem region, in the neighbouring village of Vuren.

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