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The Helsinki Fire Brigade Orchestra is an amateur wind band that operates under the patronage of the Helsinki City Rescue Department. The concert configuration of the orchestra features over 20 members, but the orchestra also performs in smaller ensembles.

The orchestra performs at both its own concerts and events organised by the Rescue Department. To the delight of all city residents, their wind instrument music can be heard, for example, on Helsinki Day on 12 June.

The orchestra’s own concerts include the annual Mother’s Day Concert.
The orchestra originally consisted of the Rescue Department’s staff, so the musicians quenched both fires and the thirst for music. The current ensemble includes professionals from a wide range of fields, but all members are united by a fiery passion for music. The orchestra is conducted by Esko Heikkinen.


The orchestra naturally performs traditional wind instrument music, but at least as often, conductor Heikkinen’s arrangements conjure up new elements even in familiar compositions. The orchestra’s repertoire includes both popular and art music, also with vocal or instrumental soloists. The repertoire is easily adapted according to the occasion and the players.
Contact us and tell us about your wishes – we will tailor a performance suitable for your event. 
Bookings: Esko Heikkinen, tel. +358 40 500 0771

Join the orchestra

All woodwind and brass instruments are well represented in the Helsinki Fire Brigade Orchestra’s 20-strong line-up, but there is always room for more players.

The orchestra rehearses on Tuesdays at 17.30–20 at the Laakso Civil Defence Shelter on Lääkärinkatu 3. Please contact conductor Esko Heikkinen tel. 040 500 0771, or

History of the orchestra

Active since 1898, the Helsinki Fire Brigade Orchestra is the oldest orchestra of a professional fire brigade in the Nordic countries. It was founded to refresh firefighters, who at that time lived at the fire stations, with working hours significantly longer than their free time.

The orchestra started out as a brass septet with permanent firefighters as the players. During the early years, fire alarms only occurred a couple of times a week, so the musicians had plenty of time to rehearse under the instruction of a professional conductor whilst waiting for rescue missions.
The tradition of annual public concerts began in 1929. By this stage the septet had grown into a brass band. Gradually, the orchestra began to expand from a brass band to a wind band, including French horns, trombones, clarinets, oboes and bassoons.

By the time the civil defence operations and the Fire Department were merged to form the Helsinki City Rescue Department in the early 1990s, combining music with the other duties of firefighters was no longer possible in the same way. Gradually, the natural progression has been to welcome musicians from outside the Rescue Department too. The orchestra has thus become an amateur wind band also acting as a calling card for the Helsinki City Rescue Department. The musicians proudly represent the Rescue Department, whatever their civil profession.