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Emergency Services Academy

Rescue departments’ full-time crew members who participate in rescue operations, sub-officers and fire officers must have a qualification in rescue services required for their post or duties. Personnel working in emergency response tasks at the Emergency Response Centres are required to have an Emergency Response Centre Operator's qualification or a corresponding qualification awarded in an earlier system, or a Bachelor of Police Services degree or a corresponding earlier qualification. The Emergency Services Academy, an educational institution in the Ministry of the Interior’s administrative branch, operates in Kuopio. It provides vocational upper secondary education leading to a vocational qualification for rescuers and Emergency Response Centre operators, and third-level education leading to a university of applied sciences degree for fire officers and sub-officers. While the responsibility for organising fire officer education was transferred to the Police University College at the beginning of 2017, the teaching still takes place at the Emergency Services Academy in Kuopio.

Qualifications and degrees

The holders of a qualification for rescuers are multi-skilled experts. Skills in responding to different situations requiring psychological and physical capabilities are emphasised in their work. Their work also increasingly involves accident prevention, which means providing education, advice and safety training and carrying out fire inspections. A rescuer's physical capabilities are tested annually. The main occupational titles of a rescuer in working life are firefighter or firefighter/ambulance driver. 

A holder of a sub-officer’s degree may work as a shift supervisor, head of rescue services, planner and instructor in exercises maintaining vocational skills, fire inspector and safety instructor. They may also serve as the chief of a small fire station and in various expert tasks. Working in a sub-officer’s duties requires good social interaction and problem-solving skills and an ability to tolerate stress.

Graduates from the degree programme for fire officers can work in both supervisory and expert tasks, in which both leadership and development competence, interaction and problem-solving skills and international competence are emphasised. Completion of the qualification also gives eligibility to apply for posts as Head of Emergency Response Centre.

Students who have completed the qualification for Emergency Response Centre operators work at Emergency Response Centres. An Emergency Response Centre operator answers emergency calls and finds out what has happened and where, what the risk class of the mission is, and what type of assistance should be sent to the scene. The tasks require an ability to encounter people who are in the middle of a crisis, give instructions to the person in need of help, and support the professionals alerted to the scene. Emergency Response Centre operators work in three shifts.

In addition to vocational upper secondary education, the Emergency Services Academy also provides vocational in-service training related to rescue services and Emergency Response Centre operations.

Helsinki Rescue School

Helsinki Rescue School is part of the Rescue Department's Centre of Excellence. It trains rescue service crews and fire officers for the needs of the City of Helsinki’s Rescue Department. In addition to following the curriculum of the Emergency Services Academy, Helsinki Rescue School incorporates special features of the metropolitan area in the studies.

The Centre of Excellence is also responsible for the Rescue Department's competence management and the personnel's in-service training, and it organises courses for different target groups.

Police University College

The Police University College, an educational institution within the Ministry of the Interior’s administrative branch, operates in Hervanta, Tampere. It is responsible for recruitment for police training, student admissions, graduate and postgraduate police qualifications, in-service training provided at the institution, and research and development activities related to the police sector. While the responsibility for organising fire officer education was transferred to the Police University College at the beginning of 2017, the teaching still takes place at the Emergency Services Academy in Kuopio.

Civilian crisis management training

The Crisis Management Centre, which operates in conjunction with the Ministry of the Interior, provides training in civilian crisis management. The Centre trains experts for international civilian crisis management and peace-building missions. The Crisis Management Centre also recruits experts, equips them for their tasks, conducts research and produces publications relevant to its field. The Crisis Management Centre serves as the command centre for those working in international crisis management missions.

Training for contract fire brigades

Part-time personnel participating in rescue operations and members of contract fire brigades or other organisations operating under a contract are required to have sufficient training, which must be provided by the rescue department. As of 1 January 2019, the Emergency Services Academy has been responsible for the training system for contract personnel in rescue services. The Emergency Services Academy trains and licenses the instructors responsible for providing training for contract personnel at the crew and group leader level and produces teaching materials for the instructors. In addition, the Emergency Services Academy maintains a register of licensed instructors.

Chimney sweep training

A person who practises the profession of a chimney sweep, a person employed by them who carries out chimney sweeping work independently, and a chimney sweep employed by a rescue department must have a Further qualification for Chimney Sweeps.

Theoretical training preparing candidates for a Further and Specialist qualification for Chimney Sweeps is organised by the national federation of this sector, Nuohousalan Keskusliitto. Practical learning mainly takes place as apprenticeship training. Contact teaching periods preparing candidates for the qualifications awarded by Nuohousalan Keskusliitto are organised in Laukaa.

During their training, a person completing the Further qualification for Chimney Sweeps is qualified to work independently as a chimney sweep for three years if they have completed the modules on sweeping fireplaces and flues and monitoring the safety of buildings, which are part of this qualification. Chimney sweeping service providers must adequately guide and supervise independent chimney sweeping work carried out by a person completing a further vocational qualification.

More information:

Emergency Services Academy
The Emergency Response Centre Agency
Helsinki Rescue School
Poliisiammattikorkeakoulu
The Crisis Management Centre
Central Association of Chimney Sweeps