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Civil defence is a humanitarian activity aimed at protecting the population and securing society’s ability to function in emergency conditions. Rescue authorities play a central operational and coordinating role in civil defence. The Ministry of the Interior manages and coordinates the national arrangements for civil defence, which are the responsibility of the rescue services. 

The civil defence duties of the rescue authorities include warning the population, evacuation, directing people into civil defence shelters and fire-fighting and rescue operations. Helsinki City Rescue Department is well prepared for rescue operations even in wartime conditions. We have rescue teams that are specially trained for both urban search and rescue and for situations that involve dangerous substances, and we have the necessary special equipment. 

In addition to the rescue services, civil defence is the responsibility of the authorities in charge of the related duties under normal conditions. However, the flow of information, coordination and communication will be strengthened with the help of various situation centres and crisis communication. If preparedness for serious disruptions and civil defence is needed, the authorities communicate and instruct citizens in good time and in many ways.

Emergency conditions enter into force when the President of the Republic, together with the Government, states that there are exceptional circumstances in the country. In the event of a war or the threat thereof related to emergency conditions, preparations are made for the authorities to evacuate the population or direct the people to civil defence shelters. The authorities inform the public of any evacuation and protection needs. 

Helsinki City Rescue Department is well prepared for rescue operations even in wartime conditions.

There are approximately 5 500 civil defence shelters in Helsinki with approximately 900 000 places. The number of shelters and places is sufficient to cover the need for shelter not only of permanent residents, but also of people visiting the city and people on the move. 

The third sector, various foundations and organisations, are our important partners in organising civil defence. We have been cooperating for decades, and several hundred trained volunteers participate in the city’s civil defence work. 

Civil defence has a special status as defined by international agreements. Civil defence personnel, materials and facilities enjoy special protection in armed conflicts. The symbol of civil defence is a blue equilateral triangle on an orange background. 

Questions related to serious disruptions, civil defence and voluntary preparedness are answered by our on-call fire safety inspector (tel. +358 9 310 31203) on weekdays at 9–11 and 12– 14 and by email at 9–15 at