Jämsänkosken VPK fire brigade is created at the mill

Fire protection of the old Jämsänkoski pulp mill had been left to fire guards doing their rounds. There was no fire fighting system, but fire protection was based on as early detection as possible. The mill burned down in June 1896. Only the brick bleaching plant remained. The fire spread quickly and attempts at putting it out with buckets and a hand sprayer were hopeless. The insurance permitted construction of the new factory to start immediately. Insurance companies were an early influence on development of industrial fire protection, as e.g. factories that installed a sprinkler system were given discounts on their premiums.

Jämsänkosken VPK fire brigade at the old depot in Nikkarinmäki at the end of the 1920s.The initiative on establishing a fire brigade at Jämsänkoski was made by the factory master Edvard Nordfors in 1896. The operation of the fire brigade was reorganised by the works office manager, Captain Alfred Hartman, in 1904. The fire brigade was given permission to form, but mass events, such as exercises and parades, were forbidden. During the years of oppression, plumber Otto Manninen was elected nominal Fire Chief. In 1906, Captain Hartman returned to the post of Chief and remained until 1916. The official name adopted was Jämsänkosken VPK. In 1910 it was ordered that all men aged 18 - 50 in the employment of the Jämsänkoski manufacturing company must join the volunteer fire brigade.

Fire fighting equipment was bought for the fire service, and firemen's uniforms and helmets. Individual fire pumps were positioned in all works sections, and a sufficient number of hoses provided to cover the whole works area. The Patalankoski paper mill pump was responsible for fires on the east side of the rapids, the Hovilanhaara paper mill pump for the west side of the rapids, and the pulp mill pump for Saarenmäki and the Alaja timber store. The Rekolankoski groundwood plant was also given its own pump. The sections of the pulp mill with most fire hazards were equipped with a sprinkler system. By the mid-1910s, an up-to-date fire fighting system had already been set up in the works.

The fire brigade in the United Paper Mills era

With the help of a donation from the company in 1920, the first motorised fire hose, Big Bertha, was purchased. The company provided the fuel and lubricants for the equipment, paid the salaries of the fire brigade management, and compensated the crew for exercises and call-outs. Many maintenance and repair jobs on the equipment were done by the company. From 1935, VPK was also contracted as the municipal fire brigade of Jämsänkoski. Even after the war, the VPK funds were kept in the factory service office. However, officially it was not an actual factory fire service.

Jämsänkosken VPK got its own fire station in the factory area in 1931. The building had room for three fire engines and the engineer’s apartment. The fire hose drying tower was designed by W. G.  Palmqvist.Jämsänkoski municipality awarded an annually confirmed contribution for the operation of the fire brigade. From 1965, the local authority and the company shared the cost of the fire service. Yet the fire brigade retained its factory fire service characteristics, as the operation of the factory brought about its own special problems in fire prevention. In 2004 Jämsänkosken VPK became a member of Keski-Suomen Pelastuslaitos [Central Finland Rescue Services]. The fire service has a rescue agreement with UPM-Kymmene Jämsänkoski factories.

Over the decades, the fire station built in the 1930s became too small, and equipment was positioned all around the factory area. In 1982, the fire service acquired factory premises that had been built as an extension to a paper salle and was large enough to take both the equipment and office and servicing areas.

Link:  Jämsänkosken VPK