The Rescue College has stated that extinguishing forest fires is a dangerous job. Nevertheless, not all contract firefighters have access to proper protective equipment.
In Finland in 2018 there were a lot of terrain and forest fires. Most of them were small, but also accommodated large pieces that were extinguished for many days. The large number of fires was cleared up due to the stretching of contract firefighters. Stretching was needed in some places – shifts sometimes even lasted around the clock.
The end result of the summer season 2018 was that the extinguishing of forest fires must be developed in terms of occupational safety, equipment, equipment, protective equipment and working methods. In practice, for several years now, rescue services had been provided with feedback on protective equipment unsuitable for forest fires and on respiratory and face protection.
Some rescue services have not provided any kind of respiratory protection for contract firefighters, some rescue services have provided paper or fiber masks as protective equipment. Contract firefighters often also lack protective suits for forest fires.
The Rescue College has studied extinguishing forest fires and the dangers associated with them. The work has been found to be dangerous. The need for proper protective equipment for rescue personnel has also been clearly demonstrated.
In order to extinguish forest fires safely, rescue services must have occupational safety instructions and they must be communicated to all rescue personnel. The instructions must state how long the maximum amount of fire-fighting work can be carried out without endangering occupational safety. The instructions must take into account the establishment of a washing place for large wildfires and the maintenance of changing clothes.
Now, at the beginning of the summer season, it has become clear again that the rescue services, in cooperation with their own contract fire brigades, should plan to increase the efficiency of the fire brigade’s membership and actively mobilize the membership.
However, before recruiting members in the rescue services, the shortcomings that have weakened the contract fire brigade throughout the regional rescue operation – from 2004 to the present – must be remedied. There has been talk of effective recruitment in the past, but talk usually ends when a debate is launched on how to address the shortcomings.
Operational readiness the shortcomings are related to the wider problem of the Finnish rescue service. Rescue services operate municipally and thus autonomously.
Now rescue facilities are moving to welfare areas. Legislation should address this autonomy by increasing the command, control and control of the Ministry of the Interior over rescue services. This concern for readiness and better occupational safety also points to the need for rapid nationwide development of the rescue service.
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