The volunteer Rescue Association (Päästeliit) is to see its base funding per team for 2023 doubled, while its overall budget will be increased three-fold, in recognition of the vital role in plays in safety and in internal security.
Minister of the Interior Lauri Läänemets (SDE) said: "In agreement with the Rescue Board and with the approval of the Rescue Association, we have guaranteed permanent funding for volunteer rescuers for the following years, which will increase almost all operating subsidies, significantly."
"First of all, we will invest in responsiveness and readiness, where the base funding will rise to €25,000 per year, per team, instead of the current average of €13,600," Läänemets continued, via a ministry press release.
Kuno Tammearu, Director General of the Rescue Board (Päästeamet), permanent funding for the volunteer rescuers was key for public protection, joint guard duties and prevention activities.
Tammearu said: "Whereas in the case of the joint security service, one-time allocations have been made in the past, then the support of voluntary civil protection activities is being put in place for the first time."
"In the current security situation, everyone's contribution is necessary, and the role of volunteer rescuers in standing up for the safety of their community is of critical importance from the point of view of broad national defense," Tammearu went on.
The Rescue Association support will be increased threefold, in the meantime, while the volunteer-oriented financing of civil protection activities will be created together with the creation of the corresponding coordinator position, for the first time ever.
Minister Läänemets said this was a significant decision, one which values and recognizes the daily work of volunteer rescuers, given their invaluable contribution to internal security and the fact the sector has been underfunded for many years.
Kuno Tammearu said that the funding will also help in boosting the participation of volunteer rescuers in preventive activities,
"Unfortunately, this year's tragic fire death statistics demonstrated that we still have a lot of work to do in promoting a culture of safety," Tammearu went on.
There are a total of 117 volunteer fire rescue teams across Estonia, involving 2,400 volunteer rescuers. This is in addition to the regular Rescue Board.
Editor: Andrew Whyte