The installation presents a compilation of two collections:

1) Fire Museum

Amassed over a long period of time, the collection is based on artist Jussi Kivi’s passionate interest, going back to his childhood, in everything that has to do with firefighting. 

2) Sillamäe Underground Bunker Exhibition

The collection consists of Soviet educational poster art on the theme of civil defence and firefighting designed to illustrate procedures in case of an attack with weapons of mass destruction. The material was discovered in an abandoned underground bunker on an artistic-geographical expedition to Eastern Europe in spring 2008.

The bunker had in Soviet times housed a training exhibition for civil defence and firefighting personnel. Although the material was upon discovery exposed to the forces of nature and vandalism, the small part of it now on exhibition was rescued for future generations.

Fire & Rescue museum ( as an artwork)

The original function of Kivi's collection was nostalgic dreaming of his personal childhood experiences and excitement of Fire Department.  Although the collector is an artist, he has up to now kept the collection strictly separate from his artistic work.

Merging of the apocalyptic soviet poster collection with the earlier firefighting  material led to the inevitable transformation of the new compilation into a socially conscious work of art.  


The exhibition is produced by FRAME Finnish Fund for Art Exchange and Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Helsinki.

Jussi Kivi: Wounded Angel, photograph  2008

1 Background of the Museum, General Section

In the yard of Käpylä Fire Station around  the mid - 1960s. At that time my father was seriously interested in photography, a hobby he later gave up. The pictue is staged up and double exposure has occurred accidentally. My father 's idea was to photograph the little man wearing  a helmet at the fire station  with his favourite toy fire engine"  Photo by Matti Kivi 

"My childhood home was next to a fire station, and much of my childhood was spent in the station. Most of the items in this display case are from that period.

One thing that deserves mention is my childhood drawings, such as the one I made at the age of five, a pencil rendering of a big warehouse fire in Helsinki in 1964, and also the self-portrait as fireman at the age of seven.

The designs for fire engines and ambulances I made in school notebooks when I was 11–13 belong to the same category. 

Another category worthy of mention are the staged photos taken by my father in the mid-1960s where I pose in the yard of the fire station with toy fire trucks and a helmet on my head, and also the snapshot of a few small fire engines in an operative situation on the floor. Some of the toy engines in the collection are the same as in the photos. Most of the other photos are from the archives of the City of Helsinki Rescue Department, and they show vintage firefighting equipment and firemen I knew from the next-door station.

The items on display also include a few publications that represent technical firefighting literature I was given as a child, and read many times. These include The Fireman's Encyclopaedia and Fire Prevention Diagram with Legend and Helsinki Firemen's Handbook with Street Directory. The artistic rarities in this section include an expressionist watercolour on the theme of a forest fire from 1971."

Burning warehouse's  in Jätkäsaari, Helsinki, summer 1964

Drawing made at age 5 on the basis of news footage  seen on neighbor's black and white TV.

Self portrait as a fireman,  age 7.

The ship "Finnhansa" is burning at Hietalahti yards in Helsinki 1965

Forest fire, watercolour  at the age of 11, 1971

Firefighting tactical map (1971/72)

Photo: Matti Kivi

Special Mementoes Section, Warren fire department.

In June 1971, I went on a visit to Warren, Ohio. I was 11 at the time. My grandmother's American-Finnish cousin Reino "Ray" Niemi lived there. He was the Assistant Fire Chief. Every third day, Reino was on duty at the station on a 24-hour shift, and so was I. I slept in the firemen's dormitory and when an alarm went off, my place was with Reino in the front truck. Although no dramatic fires occurred, that month at the fire station remains in my mind clearer than any other month in my life.

The visual material in the display case is based on photos from that journey. I was given a simple Kodak Instamatic camera, which I used to take photos of the firemen and fire engines. The collection includes also a few photos sent by Reino to his relatives in Finland, such as the one where he and Labaugh, Chief of the Warren Fire Department, are greeting President Richard Nixon, and a picture from the 1960s in which Reino shakes hands with John F. Kennedy. Most of the other black-and-white photos are taken either by Reino or the fireman serving as Fire Investigation Photographer.

Some of the objects were received over the years as Christmas presents from Reino and his wife Esther. There is also Reino's smoke mask from the 1950s, Fire Service Training textbook, and a black fire helmet I got already at the end of the 1960s. Other items include a white fire chief's helmet, donated by Reino to the collection. He received the helmet as a gift from the neighbouring fire department when he retired after forty years of service. There is also a picture of Reino in my Fire Museum in Helsinki on his last visit to Finland in 2001. At that time, he already had difficulty walking. His legs were in bad shape. Reino had once fallen through the roof in a fire, and the injuries sustained then had deteriorated as time went by. The display case also contains other firefighting material from America acquired for the collection over the years.

Nixon, Reino "Ray" Niemi and Chief Labaugh

2 instamatic Portraits of fireman Bob Patchen " The Red Spider"

Reino shakes hands with John F. Kennedy

WFD Alarm centre

"These pictures was taken by a firefighter who worked as the fire departments photographer, with the task of photographing the scenes of fire to suppor investigations into to causes of fire. I am 11 years old and have been ordered to pose (which I didn't like very much). A few years later I censored myself out of this pictures and some others, either by scratching or with orange paint.

Warren emergency truck #1

Reserve pumper (#2)

Burnt car, next day

Crashed car, next monday

Snorkel drill behind the fire station

Used hoses are collected after testing of pumps, fireman Futchko on left, me on the right

Chief of Champion TWP. Volunteer Fire Dept at their 

pumping drills on sunday

Reino in  front of the Champion Twp. fire station

Visiting Warren Twp. Volunteer fire department station # 1

Showcase B, Ray's old filter smoke mask from

 1950´s in the middle

Reino in my Fire Museum in Helsinki on his last visit to Finland in 2001.