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Chemicals agency worried about repeat of theatre blast

The agency said that it aims to see if measures can be taken to prevent a similar accident in the future.

Poliisin ja pelastuslaitoksen yksiköitä Helsingin kaupunginteatterilla
One person was injured in the blast, which is believed to be accidental. Image: Olivia Ranta / Lehtikuva

The Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency, Tukes, said on Monday that it is looking into last week’s explosion at the Helsinki City Theatre in which one person was injured. The agency said that concerns have arisen that a similar accident could occur elsewhere during equipment maintenance.

The blast occurred at the sprinkler centre on the second floor of the Studio Elsa building at Ensi Linja in the city’s Kallio district. Based on initial information, police suspected that the explosion was caused by the gas formed from dry zinc pipes and enclosed in a small space.

Tukes’ probe aims to determine the reason for the accident to ensure that a similar incident does not happen elsewhere. Possible recommendations for preventive action could be later incorporated into maintenance standards, as well as the development of guidelines and regulations.

Tukes said in a statement on Monday that sprinkler systems are in widespread use in public buildings, shopping centres, hospitals and in industrial facilities. The agency added that the results of the investigation could have broader significance for technical safety and for safe maintenance. It noted that it has been receiving questions about the theatre explosion from interested parties in other countries apart from Finland.

The investigation will be conducted in collaboration with professionals in the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) field as well as rescue and occupational health and safety authorities and is expected to be completed in the autumn.

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