112 (one one two) 3 digits that you only need when something serious is going on.
And there it was: Tuesday, January 26th, we desperately needed the Fire Brigade.
A fire had started in our film room on the 1st floor. Fortunately, because of the smoke from the windows, bystanders or residents had called 112 (911) before us.
The moment we stood on the staircase with a fire extinguisher and concluded that it was impossible to extinguish the thick black smoke, we already heard the rescue sirens.
Police first, followed by at least 3 fire trucks. With ribbon a part of Vlaggemanstraat cordoned off, roll out hoses, put on compressed air masks and go inside.
We at the museum were now on the street, deeply shocked and emotionally charged: our museum was on fire, our collection, our history, how bad is it? All kinds of thoughts run through your mind. The extinguishing could therefore not start soon enough, which fortunately happened.
Once the ‘fire master’ signal was given, we were able to enter. The sadness then comes to meet you and immediately hits you in a minor key: our film room is heavily burned, various cupboards with historical items, especially film material and years of documentation, all gone up in smoke. Our exhibition space at the front of the building, which has taken months of preparatory work, is completely covered in soot. We had so many expectations of this exhibition ‘Telephony and WWII’, composed with so much care.
The so-called Digizaal, where we had various central equipment, was also completely covered in soot.
In short, we had a big ‘Zadkine’ feeling, in other words, a piece of PTT had been ripped from our hearts, our bodies.
What remains is rebuilding and organizing spared material, but still quite a few boxes.
In order to bring our collection back to a ‘museum’ level, we would like to appeal to many former and ex-colleagues and/or other Telecom interested parties to make possible film and photo material available to us. Any ‘old’, historical documents or other PTT related material is of course also welcome.
Fortunately, the ‘technical heritage’ on the ground floor has been spared in this story. Our visitors can still come and see this. It is not yet clear how long the restoration of the 1st floor will take. Of course we hope as soon as possible, so that we can be a full manager of the PTT heritage again.