Civil Protection in Italy

The Italian Civil Protection Department under the Presidency of the Council of Ministers is the Prime Minister’s operating arm, when it comes to handling the population’s safety and protection of the national territory and goods, in case of disaster or any particular threat or hazard deriving from conditions of natural, environmental or anthropic risk.

The Department, which was located in 1982 in Rome, is organised in general offices composed by units and consisting of approximately  800 fully employed civil officers.

The Department has been established with Law No. 225/1992, which changed the approach from a system of post –emergency intervention to a system which includes risk assessment, forecasting and measures for preventions of risks.

The Department is the pivot of the Civil Protection National Service which includes local authorities, research institutions, private companies, volunteer associations and all national operational forces. The activities of the Department are coordinated by the entire State organisation, both at national and territorial level. The civil society is also actively involved in the Civil Protection National Service, mainly through voluntary organisations.

The main objective of DPC, besides coordinating response operations and all related activities, has become to work on prevention, preparedness, and overcoming the state of emergency caused by a disaster. It has a guiding role, in cooperation with regional and local governments, for risk prevention, forecasting and monitoring activities as well as for emergency preparedness and for intervention procedures in cases of on-going or upcoming crisis events. To this purpose, it relies on a well-developed network of risk monitoring and forecasting centres (one in each region, and the main headquarter central station located in the DPC premises with its primary coordination role) that work closely with the local branches of the National Service of Civil Protection and the scientific community as well as on a national inter-institutional operational room, where all the operational forces are present 24/7.

The Department is also the coordinating authority of the National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction established by Decree of the Prime Minister Office in 2008 and it is the national focal point responsible of ensuring the full implementation of the recent adopted Sendai framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.

Among the main preparedness activities the Civil Protection Department develops and implements contingency plans for major events as well as awareness raising campaigns, jointly with local governments and volunteering associations throughout the country. It provides technical support to local government for the elaboration/updating of contingency plans, including testing activities (such as simulations/field exercises). It also issues guidelines, standard operating procedures for the regions, provinces and municipalities, to prepare and implement prediction and prevention programs based on risk scenarios.

During the semester of the Italian Presidency of the European Council on the second half year of the 2014, DPC has promoted two main topics: 1. Risk management and 2. Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection. On the basis of the findings of their activity the Italian Presidency drew up a set of draft Council conclusions, whose final version was officially adopted by the Justice and Home Affairs Council in the Luxembourg Meeting in October 2014.

With regard to the topic related to Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection, DPC has drafted a paper, “Draft Council conclusions on cooperation between humanitarian aid and civil protection: building a new partnership for disaster risk management” that has been adopted by the Council.

Recent years have seen a considerable growth in the number of countries calling upon the Mechanism for civil protection assistance. In the past years Italy provided assistance to several international emergencies, mainly in the framework of the Union Civil Protection Mechanism.

It has to be underlined that Italy in collaboration with the Commission has requested and obtained the co-financing of the transport cost of the relief items and modules.

Here below the most recent ones are reported:

– Ecuador, earthquake April 2016, One (n.1) seismic damage assessment expert deployed as member of the EUCP Team. An Italian team (composed by 10 fire brigades and two DPC officers) deployed to provide damage assessment for buildings and infrastructure.

– Nepal, earthquake, April 2015, an Advanced Medical Post with surgery was deployed. One (n.1) seismic damage assessment expert deployed as member of the EUCP Team.

  • Albania, March 2015, An expert deployed in the advisory/preparedness mission of the UCPM
  • Sweden, forest fire August 2014 n.2 Canadairs sent to support fire extinguishing operations.

– Philippines, Hayan typhoon, November 2013, an Advanced Medical Post and  TAST deployed. An expert deployed as Team leader in the first Union Civil Protection team 

– Libya crisis, repatriation of the National third countries, March 201. An expert as team leader of the EUCP team was deployed to Tunisia.

– Haiti earthquake, January 2010 an Advanced Medical Post deployed, and n.2 experts deployed in the Union Civil Protection team.

– Chile earthquake, February 2010, a field hospital with two surgery rooms deployed. 2 experts deployed as team leader and deputy team leader within Union Civil protection teams

– Israel, Forest Fire, December 2010, mission deployed in order to provide 12 tons of fire delaying and extinguishing material.

– Jordan, Syria crisis, 2010 emergency structure established in Mafraq, one field hospital in Azraq in cooperation with DG ECHO, Red cross National societies, UNHCR and Italian Government. An expert deployed in the Union Civil Protection team.

The Italian Civil Protection Department is also involved in the organization and conduction of drills and courses addressed to civil protection experts, civil protection volunteers, including the participation of young people and the overall population, both at national and international level.

Training programs are organized both at the national and international level and are addressed to several different actors, including civil protection experts both from the ICPD and other institutions/levels of government, civil protection volunteers, technicians, journalists and media experts.

At European level it is worth mentioning that the DPC is very active contributing in the policy development of the UCPM training programme, it candidates Italian experts to the Mechanism training courses as well as to the deployment of Union Civil Protection teams.

Additionally, DPC has established a fruitful co-operation with World Food Programme, World Bank, UNISDR and UNOCHA (including UNEP/UNOCHA).

The DPC has also promoted and organized international EU co-funded civil protection full scale exercises in Italy:

– Twist 2013- simulation of a tidal wave in southern Thyrrenian Sea.

– Terex 2010- simulation of an earthquake 6.4 magnitude in Tuscany.

– Sardinia 2008 – a response test to forest fire risk in Sardinia.

– Mesimex 2006 –simulation on volcanic eruption on Vesuvius.

– Eurosot 2005 – simulation of a big seismic event in eastern Sicily.

Italian Civil Protection Department is the coordinator of several projects funded by the European Union. Here below the most recent ones are reported:

  1. EUROMED – Programme on Prevention, Preparedness and Response to Natural and Man-made Disasters – PPRD SOUTH I (Partners: France, Algeria, Egypt, ISDR). Beneficiaries: Algeria, Albania, Egypt, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Montenegro, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey.
  2. IPA Floods – Programme For Prevention, Preparedness and Response to Floods in the Western Balkans and Turkey. Beneficiaries are Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo and Turkey.
  3. IPCAM – Increasing Preparedness Capacities Across The Mediterranean . Beneficiary: Tunisia.
  4. BE DRIN – Balkans and Europe for Development of Resilience Initiatives. Beneficiaries: Albania, Kosovo, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Cultural Heritage

In Italy, problems relating to the safeguard of movable and immovable CH were raised for the first time in 1966, during the Florence flood, when many cultural assets belonging to the historic  centre had been endangered and unfortunately damaged, highlighting their fragility and their need to be protected. Many years later, during the Umbria – Marche earthquake, in 1997, the fairly recently established National Civil Protection System realized that specific procedures and operations for the protection and safeguard of cultural heritage assets  were required. For the first time, dedicated Commissioners were nominated in order to manage such particular issues.  Meanwhile, Fire Brigade units and trained groups of volunteers started to specialize in the protection of cultural heritage sites and assets and new specific Forms to report the damage caused to both movable and unmovable cultural assets were drafted.

Nowadays, CH protection and safeguard activities during disaster response are carried out under the coordination of the Civil Protection Department, (Italian Presidency of the Council of Ministers).

The latest Regulation released by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism on April 23, 2015, which updated the previous version (Directive of December 12, 2013), establishes the procedures for the management of all activities related to the safeguard and protection of cultural heritage in case of natural disasters.

The document is the result of an enhanced collaboration between the Italian Ministry for Cultural Heritage and the National Civil Protection Department. It  focuses on the emergency management of cultural heritage and it explains how the chain of command and control works, who the involved actors are, how the operative teams should intervene, which means of intervention are implemented. The provision aims at issuing guidelines addressed to the offices, as well as to all the central and peripheral bodies, in order to guarantee an effective coordination of relief operations undertaken during the response phase. Under the overall coordination of the Italian Civil Protection Department, in case of national and international emergencies the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism manages all activities related to the safeguard of cultural heritage, providing technical advice, also in terms of assessing intervention priorities.

Under the coordination of the Civil Protection Department and in agreement with the Ministry for Cultural Heritage, several actors participate in cultural heritage safeguard operations in the event of  disaster: cultural heritage experts, belonging to the Ministry for Cultural heritage, Police forces (Carabinieri – Nucleo Tutela Beni Culturali), military corps, fire brigades, scientific/academic resources, specialized volunteers. The emergency activities include damage assessment, securing cultural assets and buildings from further damage, while the subsequent actions, such as repair and reconstruction, are directly managed by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism in the following phases.  

In the last years, many efforts have been made to improve the emergency management of cultural heritage, paying particular attention to prevention and preparedness activities. Training courses have been organized at all levels and local, national and international exercises have been performed in order to test those procedures on different risk scenarios: Eurosot 2005 and Terex 2010 on seismic risk, Mesimex 2006 on Volcanic risk, Twist 2013 on tsunami risk, among  others.

All these activities/procedures were strengthened during the Abruzzo earthquake.

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