The code phrase Mr Sands was used in public transport to alert staff and other agencies, such as the police, to an emergency or potential emergency such as a fire without alerting the public and creating panic. The code is believed to originally come from theatres, where ‘Mr Sands’ is used as a code announcement when a fire breaks out. Inspector Sands’ surname stems from the use of sand buckets, which are sometimes used to extinguish fires.
The location where The Dylan is located was a theatre in 1637, also the first municipal theatre in Amsterdam. On May 11th 1772 the entire block burned to the ground during a performance. A canister filled with candle wax caught fire and set the sides of the stage on fire. Many people lost their lives in the panic that followed.