Emergency services have busy New Year with fireworks, alcohol incidents ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Rescue Board vehicles (picture is illustrative).
Rescue Board vehicles (picture is illustrative). Source: Sergei Stepanov/ERR

The Rescue Board (Päästeamet) received around three times the number of calls over the New Year, than usual, mostly involving the use of fireworks. Additionally, the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) say that there were close to 20 incidents where drink drivers were apprehended, and one traffic accident where eight people were injured. Over 40 domestic violence incidents were also reported.

Toomas Kääpärn, chief duty steward at the Rescue Board, told ERR on Wednesday that fireworks-related incidents occurred all over the country.

"Most incidents involved fireworks packages that caught fire, or fires in garbage bins where unextinguished fireworks had been dumped, and secondary fires started by fireworks – but luckily there were no major incidents," Kääjärin said.

While there was one fire fatality overnight in Harju County, Kääjärin said that this and another non-fatal house fire cannot be linked directly to New Year's Eve activities.

"The first [of these fires] took place at a summerhouse in Harku parish last night at around 7 p.m. The second was just before midnight, in the town of Saue, where an older woman's body was found after a house fire," Kääjärin said.

Several municipalities, including Pärnu and Otepää, as well as Lasnamäe district in Tallinn, did not hold fireworks displays to see in 2020. The decisions came in the face of criticisms from pet owners, with environmental concerns also playing a part. However, members of the public were still free to hold their own fireworks displays in backyards etc.

According to Priit Pärkna, Deputy Director General of Information at the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA), the celebrations were also quite busy for his organization, though the major events in towns were celebrated relatively calmly, with the public behaving responsibly.

"Alcohol continues to dominate at various venues and homes, sometimes resulting violence. This continues to be a major concern for us. So when we consider that over New Year's Eve there were over 40 challenges related to domestic violence and its potential victims, this is still very worrying," Pärkna said.

The PPA also apprehended just under 20 drink drivers, which Pärkna also considers worryingly high.

One traffic incident on Järvevana tee in Tallinn saw eight people injured, and a driver in Ida-Viru County crashed off the road in slippery conditions. Pärkna said alcohol was a factor in the second case.

Pärkna's general advice to the public was to keep an eye on relatives and acquaintances, and also to report to the PPA if anyone is seen taking the wheel in an intoxicated state.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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