Rescue service operators and responsibilities

Rescue departments carry out rescue service duties in their respective regions

There are 22 rescue departments in Finland, which are managed by municipalities. Under the Rescue Act, the municipalities in each rescue service region agree on the organisation of rescue services. Rescue departments carry out rescue service duties in their respective regions. Regional rescue services are responsible for the level and standard of rescue services and appropriate organisation of the operations of the rescue departments.

Rescue services will be restructured as part of the health and social services reform. The responsibility for organising rescue services will be transferred from municipalities and joint municipal authorities to wellbeing services counties and the City of Helsinki from the beginning of 2023. These counties and the City of Helsinki will also be responsible for organising health and social services in their areas. The division into wellbeing services counties is mainly based on the current division into regions. In Uusimaa, the responsibility for organising these services will rest with four wellbeing services counties and the City of Helsinki.

Rescue departments

Rescue services reform

Volunteer, institutional, industrial and military fire brigades (contract fire brigades) also participate in performing rescue service duties as agreed between the brigades and the rescue department.

Contract fire brigades

There are about 90 full-time fire stations operating 24/7 and about 730 other fire stations. About 4,000 full-time employees and 14,600 people employed by contract fire brigades take part in rescue operations.

Besides rescue operations, rescue departments may also carry out first response and emergency medical care duties if this has been agreed with the health authorities.

Ministry of the Interior guides and directs rescue services

The Ministry of the Interior has general responsibility for guiding and directing rescue services and maintaining oversight of their coverage and quality. The Ministry of the Interior has also charge of the preparedness and organisation of rescue services at national level, and it develops cooperation of various ministries and sectors in the field of rescue services.

The Ministry is responsible for the performance guidance of Pelastusopisto - Emergency Services Academy Finland, and it guides the divisions of rescue services and preparedness at the Regional State Administrative Agencies. The Regional State Administrative Agencies support the Ministry of the Interior in its national tasks, maintain oversight of rescue services and their coverage and quality in their area of operation, and coordinate regional preparedness.

The rescue authorities for the State are: Director General of the Department for Rescue Services and the public officials of the Ministry of the Interior and Regional State Administrative Agencies appointed by him or her.

Rescue personnel trained in Kuopio and Helsinki

The Emergency Services Academy Finland in Kuopio is responsible for providing training for rescue service and emergency response centre personnel, and training in international civil protection and civilian crisis management. The Emergency Services Academy Finland also provides preparedness training for various authorities.

Emergency Services Academy Finland

In addition, the Helsinki Rescue School trains firefighters and sub-officers according to the needs of the City of Helsinki Rescue Department.

Fire Protection Fund grants assistance for projects to improve fire safety

The Fire Protection Fund operating under the auspices of the Department for Rescue Services grants assistance for projects to improve fire prevention and rescue operations. Revenues for the Fire Protection Fund are collected through a fire prevention charge payable annually for all immovable and movable property that has been insured against fire in Finland.

Structural reform of rescue services

The structural reform of Finland's rescue services is being implemented.