The Rescue Board decided to close the Kopli Rescue Brigade to meet government cost-cutting targets. The agency concedes that while the cut could save €800,000, it could affect the region's ability to respond to simultaneous calls.
"Our good partners from the Rescue Board called a few days ago to say they had submitted such a calculation to the Ministry of the Interior, which will now decide whether to close the Kopli Rescue Brigade. I know the ministry is close to making this decision. This is a serious problem," Tallinn Deputy Mayor Tiit Terik told ERR.
Terik refused to speculate on why the rescue agency opted to close the Kopli Rescue Brigade. "They will have to explain why they made such a decision; from the city's perspective, it is a major problem, as the Kopli Rescue Brigade is located in an industrial and port area, and water rescue capacity is required at Pikakari beach. From our perspective, this is a very large and sensitive area in which the presence of emergency services is absolutely essential," Terik said.
He added that the local government is powerless to guarantee the survival of the Kopli Rescue Brigade. "Obviously, we are not pleased with such a decision if it is made by the Ministry of the Interior, but after 15 years in local and national politics, I can say that the municipality cannot do anything in this case. It is not a function that the local government itself can take over," Terik explanation.
Margo Klaos, the director-general of the Estonian Rescue Board (ERB) said that the board's budget for next year is €727,002. "To make this cut, we need to close stations and lay off rescuers," he said.
According to him, the Rescue Board conducted an analysis of five brigades, and the Kopli station stood out. "The shutdown of the Kopli Brigade will have minimal effects on response capability. The area is covered by surrounding stations, such as Lilleküla, from where help arrives within 15 minutes," Klaos said.
The workload of other nearby rescue teams will therefore increase. "The Tallinn rescue teams are relatively close to one another, and the nearest team can still reach Kopli within 15 minutes. In the future, if there are multiple events occurring simultaneously and there are more events in Tallinn than in other regions, the rescue team may not be able to get to the site as quickly as we would like or require," Klaos said.
He added that the closure of the Kopli station fully covers the need for cuts, so only one brigade would have to be closed. "The closure of the Kopli Brigade will lead to the loss of 21 posts and savings of €668,331 in staff costs, plus €134,901 in other costs, for a total of €803,232. For the rescuers affected by the closure, we will offer, where possible, posts in the Tallinn and Harju County region, but also in more distant counties where there are more vacancies for rescuers," Klaos said.
Tallinn will manage the detoxification center
However, the Tallinn cutbacks by the Interior Ministry affect more than just the Kopli Rescue Brigade. "In recent days, the Ministry of the Interior has issued a number of extremely alarming messages. Minister of the Interior Lauri Läänemets (SDE) proposed on Thursday that the Tallinn detoxification center, which was built by the City of Tallinn but is currently operated by the police due to its capabilities and authority, be administered by the local government instead," Terik said.
According to him, the city lacks both the necessary skills and funds to operate it. "It is extremely resource-intensive, requiring salaries and other operational expenses. After all, the Tallinn detoxification center does not only serve the citizens of Tallinn, but also people from the surrounding municipalities," he said.
Läänemets said that transferring the administration of the facility to the city would allow the PPA to redirect resources to other police operations. Moreover, it is also planned to increase the powers of the municipal police.
"I am also committed to expanding the authority of local law enforcement officers, something that has been discussed for years, which would give Tallinn, for instance, the responsibility of detaining and monitoring people under the influence of alcohol. The only issue the PPA would address is aggressive drunks. As alcoholism is first and foremost a disease that requires treatment, not punishment, the municipality would be able to provide the necessary social services to those repeatedly placed in detoxification center," Läänemets said.
Editor: Kristina Kersa