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BLRT boss Fjodor Berman: Kopli fire brigade closure a big mistake

Kopli Rescue Brigade.
Kopli Rescue Brigade. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

A recent decision to close down the Kopli fire brigade (Kopli päästekomando) is a grand error, one which could lead to hazardous consequences in the future, with potentially a large number of victims and "monstrous" damage should an emergency situation arise, Fjodor Berman, CEO of shipbuilding company BLRT Grupp, says.

According to Berman, the presences of the Kopli station facilitates quick response to emergency situations not only relating to firms he has an interest in, but also in the port facilities of: Vene-Balti Sadam, Bekkeri, Paljassaare, Meeruse, the Border Guard Harbor (Piirivalvesadam) and the Port Noblessner development (all of the aforementioned are located on the Kopli peninsula, save Noblessner, which is in nearby Kalamaja – ed.), as well as to emergencies at other sites, not to mention in residential areas.

Map of the Kopli Peninsula, home to several shipyards and port facilities. BLRT is located near the end of the western "arm" of the peninsula. Source: Google Maps
Map of Tallinn and environs, with the red pin denoting BLRT's location. Source: Google Maps

Writing to the Ministry of the Interior, Berman noted that: "At the aforementioned ports alone, various types of vessels are berthed or maintained on a daily basis, and where the probability of fire or real crisis situations is extremely high. It takes two-to-three minutes for fire crews from the Kopli station to reach the aforementioned sites, while the arrival of other rescue units from elsewhere could take 10 to 15 minutes, or even longer during rush hour, even if they are not already traveling to callout sites in other parts of the city."

Berman added that the presence of the firefighting team on the Kopli peninsula is critically necessary and vital. He noted that BLRT, in cooperation with the Kopli brigade has repeatedly had to put out large-scale fires, both on ships and at other sites.

"Extinguishing fires on board ship brings with it its own characteristics, and together with the Kopli brigade, our services have regularly organized practical exercises to rehearse actions in the event of a fire scenario, and to respond to emergency situations. The decision to close down the Kopli brigade thus causes us serious worry, as doing so would be a big mistake, which could lead to dangerous accidents in the future," adding that these could involve significant casualties and "monstrous" damage.

He also asked in his letter, which was addressed to the Minister of the Interior Lauri Läänemets, the undersecretary at the ministry Viola Murd, and Ciredtor General of the Rescue Board (Päästeamet) Margo Klaos, he asked once again to reconsider thoroughly all circumstances and to review the decision for closure.

The Rescue Board (Päästeamet) decided to close the Kopli station as a way of meeting government cost-cutting targets, with an estimated saving of €800,000.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Urmet Kook

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