Civil Protection in France

The civil protection structure in France is organized at national, zonal and departmental levels (including also a local level under the mayor’s responsibility).

Public safety is a competency shared between the local authorities and the State.

At national level, the Minister of the Interior prepares rescue measures and coordinates the emergency resources. DGSCGC stands for the French General Directorate for Civil Protection and Crisis Management. It is one of the 3 major departments of the Ministry of Interior. Strong of 2550 civil servants, it is led by a Prefect and composed of 4 sub-directorates respectively in charge of planning and crisis management, national CP assets, HR, doctrine and Fire services representing 250,000 fire fighters and other emergency actors.

As department of the Ministry of the Interior, the General Directorate for Civil Protection and Crisis Management (DGSCGC – Direction Générale de la Sécurité Civile et de la Gestion des Crises) is the State office which is responsible for risk management, whether it consists of accidents in daily life or major disasters. DGSCGC is in charge of 6 features:

– County Fire and rescue services and other emergency responders.
– The operational services and national means.
– Crisis planning and management.
– Administration and logistics.
– Doctrine and CP regulations.
– International affairs and cooperation in CP issues.

On a daily basis, its international crisis centre monitors every civil protection crisis on a national scale and coordinates the response of the fire brigades and CP organisations in close collaboration with the emergency authorities of the 7 defence zones. As national leading agency for crisis management, DGSCGC stocks on its experience in response planning and coordination gathered by dealing with complex emergencies either at the national or at the European level. Its operation centre called COGIC is the national focal point with UN OCHA, ERCC (EU). It ensures round-the-clock monitoring of large-scale rescue operations at national level over French territory and abroad. COGIC is responsible for informing the Minister of the Interior and the State authorities about the status of accidents and catastrophes.

At zonal level, the zone prefect coordinates the resources involved in disaster and emergency response within the defence zone, and benefits from the action of the Zonal Operations Centre (COZ), at his disposal in fulfilling this task. The zone prefect is assisted in the preparation of rescue measures by the General Secretariat of the Defence Zone and the Civil Security Zone Headquarters Staff. Inside each defence zone, the Zonal Operations Centre, established in Marseille, Lyon, Rennes, Bordeaux, Metz and Paris, ensures the coordination of aid and rescue operations under the authority of the zone prefect.

At departmental level, the departmental prefect implements the public and private emergency resources and co-ordinates these resources with the activity of the department. He performs his tasks together with the Departmental Operations Centre.

At the local level, the mayor in each municipality (commune) and the department prefect are responsible for ensuring prevention of the risks and distribution of aid and rescue in emergency. The prefects adopt the departmental ORSEC (Civil Protection Response Organization) plan or any other aid and rescue plan (i.e., the red plan implementing the medical aid chain in the event of numerous victims). The prefects have the interdepartmental service for economic and civil defence and civil protection (SIDPC) at their disposal.

On a day-to-day basis, the public safety activities are led by the 246,900 professional and voluntary firemen (including the 12300 agents of the Paris Fire Brigade (BSPP) and the Marseille Fire Battalion -BMPM- which are military units). Firemen essentially belong to departmental bodies. In each department (except Paris and its three surrounding departments, where BSPP operates and BMPM for the city of Marseille) the departmental fire and rescue services (SDIS), which are public departmental establishments, are financed by the local authorities and chaired by the president of the departmental council, and involve the prefect’s authority for the operational implementation of the means of aid.

The law and regulations governing civil defence and security tasks are the following: The Modernization Civil Protection Law (13 August 2004), the Interior Security Code  (last version: 30 November 2016) with respect to civil security, and eventually the last Order of 23 November 2016, concerning the organisation and powers of the General Directorate for Civil Protection and Crisis Management.

Cultural Heritage

Protecting, preserving and enhancing the value of French cultural heritage lie at the heart of the Ministry of Culture and Communication’s missions, and rely on important scientific research with multiple facets and issues.

The Ministry of Culture and Communication is responsible for defining the State’s policy towards cultural heritage, in particular on protection and development.

Concerning cultural heritage preservation, the Ministry of Culture and Communication establishes common rules with the aim of ensuring coherence between science and heritage preservation policies set in the “heritage code”, that contains all the laws concerning cultural heritage in the broadest sense (buildings, objects, private or public property, with historical, artistic, archaeological, aesthetic, scientific or technical value).

Research applied to cultural heritage conservation reinforces the action of the Ministry in that field. The research and technology department of the Ministry of Culture and Communication coordinates this policy and liaises with ministries and other institutions such as the National Agency for Research (ANR – Agence Nationale de la Recherche), the National Agency for Evaluation of Research and High Education (AERES – Agence Nationale d’Évaluation de la Recherche et de l’Enseignement Supérieur).

The policy on research applied to cultural heritage preservation involves all the Ministry of Culture and Communication sectors (cultural heritage conservation, archaeology of the national territory, Art history, ethnological heritage, etc.), and represents an essential dimension of the Ministry of Culture and Communication policy that aims to support its actions in multiple fields on national and European level.

The priorities in this multi-disciplinary research field are defined by the different departments of the Ministry in collaboration with various parties (researchers, curators, archaeologists, architects, restorers) and the participating research organisations.

The General Directorate for National Heritage (Direction Générale Des Patrimoines -DGP) is one of the 4 departments of the Ministry for Culture and communication (which also includes the general directorate for the artistic creation, the general directorate for medias and cultural institutions and the general delegation for the French language and the languages of France. DGP is composed of 4 branches:

– Museums of France

– Archives of France (an inter-ministerial branch)

– Architecture and heritage

– Inspection of the heritage

DGP is in charge of:

–  Protection and conservation

– Technical and regulamentary control

– Heritage and know-how valorisation

– Architectural creation enhancing

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