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Estonian Rescue Board (ERB) unites 72 fire and rescue service (FRS) brigades with a total personal of 1700 people, in addition to more than 115 voluntary FRS brigades and four reserve rescue squads. ERB has prioritized fire prevention measures since 2006. One of the main reasons for that was a significantly high number of fire fatalities per 100,000 citizens (12,2 in 2006), which put Estonia among the worst countries in the world statistics of deaths by fire in the period of 2000-2006. The Vision of Estonian Rescue Board has, therefore, been defined in terms of reducing the number of fire fatalities to the level of Nordic countries (1-2 per 100,000 citizens) and switching the focus from responsive to preventive activities, which also contributes to the implementation of the Estonian Inner Security Development Plan 2015-2020 (Siseturvalisuse arengukava 2015-2020).

Figure 1. The number of fire deaths per 100,000 population in Estonia and comparison countries

Estonian Rescue Board

As of 2016, the number of fire fatalities decreased to 2,9 per 100,000 citizens, supporting the claim for effectiveness of introduced measures. The main feature of the prevention activities executed by Estonian Rescue Board is their service oriented approach, which includes continuous feedback collection. In a broader sense, ERB prevention strategy draws from the New Public Governance model, which seeks to employ private sector management techniques in the public sector, as well as co-production with citizens.

Estonian Rescue Board performs three types of fire prevention activities: informing, teaching and consulting. All three are linked with raising citizens` awareness and decreasing accidental deaths.

Informing. The aim of informing activities is to raise awareness about fire prevention measures and safe behaviors through info-days, safety days, media campaigns and online channels among four main target groups:

  • Adults 18-35 years of age;
  • Working age population 19-63 years;
  • The elderly and socially disadvantaged population;
  • Families.

All informing activities are held country-wide. Three main types of events include Rescue Board Info days for families, Safety days for families and media campaigns (this also includes online media). In the period of 2008-2017, 178 Info days have been held (yearly budget for those usually reaches 12,000 EUR), 30 Safety days (2011-2017) (which usually account for around 20,000 EUR yearly) and one media campaign every year (2006-2017).

Performance and impact of all informing activities are continuously evaluated using the following strategies:

  • Media campaign ideas are tested in focus groups;
  • Coverage survey is conducted to measure campaign’s visibility in the target group (usually it reaches 85%);
  • Participants of info and safety days are asked to provide their feedback, which is analysed and classified (indexed) using the Net Promoter Score.

Teaching. The aim of teaching activities is to both evaluate the level of awareness about fire safety among the target groups, and increase these levels through comprehensive training efforts. Estonian Rescue Board teaching activities cover a wide range of target groups: from school children to adults, military servants, the elderly, adults and children with special needs, fire safety trainers, etc.

In the target group of children, ERB conducts trainings for pre-school children, pupils of first, second and third grades; seminars in the framework of the educational program for sixth graders (with a subsequent field “camp” training), safety trainings in summer camps and youth discussion circles on the topic. Approximately 47,000 children (all children in the respective age group) are reached by these activities every year. ERB also provides special training program for children with special needs in 37 schools.

As regards to other population groups, the Rescue Board offers trainings on fire safety for adults aged 19-63, with special training programs designed for military servants (around 1900 persons per year), the elderly (number fluctuates from year to year), and people with special needs (before 2016, approx. 215 persons). Before 2015 ERB was also conducting trainings for cooperation partners – school teachers, NGOs and voluntary organisations, social care workers, etc., but subsequently this was replaced by the “Training of teachers in Universities” program, which focuses on designing curricula and finding suitable lecturers to educate the target group on the fire safety at the university level.

The impact of the above activities is measured through: a) participant personal knowledge evaluation; b) participant feedback (through Net Promoter Score) and c) Children Risk Behavior Survey.

Counselling. Estonian Rescue Board consults homeowners, self-governance bodies and other cooperation partners about the issues of fire safety. Consultations include overview of the knowledge of owners on fire safety and fire prevention, mapping possible risks and solutions, implementing solutions, etc. (self-governance bodies counselling involves preliminary assessment of the risks of the governed area and a planned cooperation plan for addressing the risks). Up until 2014, the Rescue Board was also conducting counselling of educational institutions. Yearly, ERB conducts around 16,000 consultations for homeowners and 225 consultations with key persons from other third sector partners.

Consulting is measured through continuous analysis of data collected in the course of visiting dwellings (by different home types, residential areas, etc.). Participant feedback (Net Promoter Score) is also collected.

The overall impact of prevention activities of Estonian Rescue Board is assessed through Awareness Index (started in 2007), which is calculated once in two years and focuses on evaluating most aspects of risk and danger prevention awareness: knowledge, attitude and behavior. The Survey is implemented in two target groups: children aged 6-14; person aged 15-74.

Table 1. Prevention activities in 2017.

Type of activity










Info-days for families

120-minutes activity for families which informed participants about the role and activities of fire and rescue services and distributes necessary promotion materials

Safety days for families

240-minutes activities for family which introduce fire safety methods, how to detect fire, safe behavior if the fire occurred, etc.

Media campaigns

Yearly media campaigns on a defined topic, usually from November to December













Fire safety for pre-school children

60-minute training on the basics of fire safety

Fire safety for students of 2-3rd grades

Interactive 120-minute training with a visit to fire station

“Defend yourself and help others” training for 6-8th graders

90-minute training integrated into school program with a minimum 1-day field trip to a camp

Safety trainings in summer camps

Content and duration depends on the age of target group

Youth circles

Leading youth circle discussions on topics of fire safety, total duration is 48 hours

Safety trainings for adults (19-63 y.)

90-minute training on topics of fire safety

Fire training for military servants

For all military units across Estonia

Safety training for the elderly

1.5 hour trainings with a practical component

“Teaching of teachers in universities” program

Integrating fire safety themes in educational programs for teachers in schools and kindergartens






Counselling of homeowners

Counselling, risk assessment, development of solutions and collecting of data for a Prevention model database.

Counselling of self-governance bodies

Preliminary risk assessment, development of a plan for cooperation, addressing risks.

Counselling of cooperation partners

Counselling for NGOs and other partners of the Rescue Board

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