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Organisations operating on the basis of voluntary work and contract fire brigades are an important part of Helsinki City Rescue Department’s operations. They help the Rescue Department in its service production and in achieving its goals.

Contract fire brigades

There are currently 14 active contract fire brigades and two factory fire brigades in Helsinki.  The contract fire brigades operate under the authority of the Rescue Department, participate in operational rescue operations when called upon and organise a wide range of activities, such as first-aid extinguishing training for residents and organisations. Contract fire brigades have recreational activities ranging from young fire brigades to skilled rescuers.

Get involved in contract firefighting (In Finnish)

Fire safety and civil defence work

Helsingin Pelastusliitto ry (HELPE) is an umbrella organisation for registered associations in the field of fire safety and civil defence work in Helsinki. The organisation provides basic and further training for contract fire brigades in Helsinki in cooperation with Helsinki City Rescue Department. In addition, HELPE trains and advises building managers, boards and security personnel of residential buildings to improve and develop the city’s safety and rescue environment. HELPE handles the self-preparedness training task with the support of the City of Helsinki.

The purpose of the Civil Defence Association of Helsinki is to improve self-motivated safety in normal and emergency conditions. The association develops civil defence and company defence, educates citizens, organises presentations, meetings and festivities around civil defence and promotes the dissemination of literature and protective equipment in the field. The Helsinki Civil Defence Association is also responsible for the maintenance of the Civil Defence Museum owned by the Rescue Department and for guided tours of the museum.

Search and rescue dogs

Helsinki Search and Rescue Dogs (HePeKo) is a subdivision of the Helsinki Civil Defence Association (HVSSY) operating in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area.

The purpose of the activities is to train instructors and dogs to support rescue operations even in demanding conditions. The specially trained dogs and instructors also support the Helsinki City Rescue Department’s urban search and rescue operations. Rescue dog preparedness is maintained in the form of an emergency team, and HePeKo maintains the City of Helsinki’s rescue dog formation (PEKO) for crisis conditions.

The emergency team operates as part of the Voluntary Rescue Service (Vapepa). At the request of the authorities, the emergency team’s assistant instructors, dog handlers, dogs and group leaders help not only in rescue operations but also in the search for missing persons.

First aid and contingency operations

The Finnish Red Cross’s first aid and contingency operations support the Rescue Department if necessary. The first aid groups are part of the Voluntary Response Service (Vapepa), coordinated by the Finnish Red Cross, whose trained emergency teams assist the authorities and other people in need of help. They may, for example, search for a missing person or provide first aid or maintenance after accidents.