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Introduction to the Rescue Department

Helsinki City Rescue Department works to protect the safety of the capital and its residents and visitors. The Rescue Department evaluates the city’s accident risks and works to prevent accidents and ensure preparation for different kinds of accidents and emergency situations, all the way up to a state of emergency. Furthermore, we attempt to minimise the impact of accidents through emergency services and emergency medical services.

Facilitating the Rescue Department’s service production in normal conditions, emergency situations, and states of emergency requires expert technology, management, and skills management support services. The Rescue Department’s organisation includes fire fighter-ambulance drivers and fire inspectors, as well as a broad team of experts in different areas, who make sure that operations are carried out with continuity and safely.

Helsinki City Rescue Department was founded in 1861, and it is one of Finland’s oldest public organisations still in operation. The Rescue Department forms a key element of the capital’s history, which can be seen in the urban structure and planning, for example, as well as in how the city and its citizens cope in difficult times.

The department is headed by the Rescue Commander Jani Pitkänen. 

Over the years the Rescue Department has developed to meet the safety needs of the city, from being fire watchmen to becoming a diverse producer of safety and health in cooperation with partner organisations and citizens. Currently the Rescue Department employs around 700 experts in different sectors, across nine places of operation. Accident prevention, supervision, emergency services and emergency medical services are provided from eight fire stations, which are situated throughout the city, to minimise delays in emergency situations and to manage the risks and special characteristics of different districts.

The basic duty of the Rescue Department

The basic duties of the Rescue Department are to identify an area’s accident risks, prevent accidents, prepare for accidents and civil defence, and minimise difficulties during emergency situations through the use of emergency services and emergency medical services.


The rescue services values guide Helsinki City Rescue Department’s operations in all duties. We always act: 

The Rescue Department exercises dignity in all situations, ensuring respect and equality. We value diversity and different individuals and cultures. We take responsibility for the environment.
We work in a professional manner in all our operations, and we maintain high professional integrity. We are constantly renewing and updating both our expertise and our technical equipment. We use our resources efficiently and appropriately.
The Rescue Department always carries out its work reliably and safely. We are voluntarily committed to discipline and we are constantly prepared. Citizens can always rely on the Rescue Department.

Target state

The Rescue Department’s aim for the future is to be Finland’s most productive rescue department. We improve safety by preventing accidents and operating efficiently when they do occur. We are also prepared to work in serious situations threatening the safety of Helsinki and the entire society. We aim to be the best provider of emergency medical services in the capital. We always operate responsibly.


The Rescue Department forms part of the City of Helsinki’s organisation, and is one of Finland’s 22 regional rescue departments. The Rescue Department’s service production is the responsibility of the department of rescue services, which is divided into three service areas as shown on the chart below. The Administration and Development Department is responsible for the planning of services, and comprises the rescue services, emergency medical services, emergency preparedness, HQ, personnel administration, competence management, rescue school and operational management and communications operations. The Technical Department is responsible for technical support services, as well as procurement and the leasing of civil defence shelters.

Rescue Services in Finland

On the website of the Ministry of the Interior, you can find information about emergency services throughout the entire country. It also provides contact details for all rescue departments in Finland:

Operation foundations

The Rescue Department’s operations are based on the following acts, decrees and agreements.

The Rescue Act
The Emergency Powers Act
The Health Care Act
Decree of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health on Prehospital Emergency Care