Civil Protection in Spain

The country is composed by 17 autonomous communities and 2 autonomous cities. The Minister of the Interior represents the highest national civil protection authority, supported by the General Directorate of Civil Protection and Emergencies acting as the main operational body. The autonomous communities and municipalities, which in turn hold most civil protection competences, have  their own Civil Protection Unit that provides for the protection of citizens and goods. Communities and municipalities are responsible for risk assessment and subsequent integrated civil protection planning. The relationship between the national civil protection authority and the civil protection organizations, such as the Fire Brigades, the emergency medical services and the police is regulated by a specific legislative framework.

According to the provisions set out in the Royal Decree 1181/2008 of 11 July, the General Directorate of Civil Protection and Emergencies are responsible for executing the tasks of civil protection attributed to the Ministry of the Interior by Law 2/1985 of 21 January.

Among them are the following functions:

– Preparing civil protection plans.

– Planning and managing  exercises and simulations.

– Organizing and monitoring the Operational Coordination Centres, the Radioactivity Alert Network, the communications networks for emergencies and other infrastructures designated to facilitate operational management in emergency.

– Conducting studies on risk analysis and subsequent preventive measures.

– Setting and managing early warning systems, as well as spreading the alerts to the local system of civil protection and, where appropriate, to the citizens.

– Managing the financial civil protection resources during both the preparedness and  response phases.

– Administrating work contracts, studies and services, including the acquisition of assets.

– Theoretical and practical training in risks and emergency management for officers belonging to the fire and rescue services, health care and law enforcement authorities.

– Disseminating information on risks and protection measures.

– Conducting studies and educational programs to inform on civil protection activities and raise the public awareness on the subject.

– Developing research and studies on sociological, legal and economic aspects regarding activities of civil protection and emergency management.

– Coordinating relations with regional and local civil protection authorities.

– Acting as the Technical Secretariat of the National Civil Protection Council, which supervises and coordinates all operations undertaken by the authorities dealing with disaster management. The Directorate General for Civil Protection ensures adequate implementation of the adopted agreements, preparation and dissemination of documentation, and the necessary coordination between technical commissions and working groups.

The Directorate disposes of a National Civil Protection School (ENPC) that serves as the national academy for civil protection in Spain. EPNC offers practical and theoretical training courses and workshops.

Cultural Heritage

Spanish cultural heritage is listed on the Cultural Heritage Register and the General Inventory of Movable Heritage, in addition to the catalogues elaborated by local authorities.

All competencies within the field of cultural heritage management and protection belong to the autonomous communities. At national level, cultural heritage protection and safeguard policy fall with the Institute of the Cultural Heritage of Spain (IPCE), which is in charge of coordinating the National Plans for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, the National Plan for Emergencies and Risk Management in Cultural Heritage (PNEGR), and the National Plan of Preventive Conservation (PNCP) approved by the Heritage Council. All regional authorities are represented in the Heritage Council.

The General Directorate of Civil Protection and Emergencies manages the National Plan of Coordination and Support for cultural heritage Protection in case of emergency and disaster.

The Spanish Cultural Heritage Institute includes the Emergency and Risk Management Unit (UEGR), established in 2010, which is in charge of the coordination with national and international bodies involved in the operational response to emergency situations. UEGR also deals with prevention, as it designs plans and preventive strategies to avoid or minimize consequences in case of emergency.

Spain has legislative provisions in the field of cultural heritage: among them, Law 16/1985 defines and identifies duties, competences and rules concerning Spanish cultural heritage protection (even if with no reference to disaster management), while Law 17/2015 of the National System of Civil Protection regulates the safeguard of people and assets in emergency (with no specific mention to cultural heritage). In this respect, national plans containing guidelines, technical protocols and tactical handbooks are available.

The National Emergency and Risk Management Plan for Cultural Heritage (PNEGR), established in 2015, provides for prevention, preparedness (operational methodology and coordination mechanisms) and recovery of damaged cultural heritage during disasters. The plan, that involves the participation of the Ministries of Interior, Infrastructures, Defence, Finance, Education and Culture and the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, as well as experts of the Local Administration Professional Associations (AA.CC), establishes the organization and operating procedures of state-owned resources to support the autonomous community plan.

National statistics regarding the activation of cultural heritage protection procedures are available, and include the effective interventions undertaken by the Emergencies and Risk Management Unit, which also carries out two emergency exercises per year, and by the Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team of the Emergency Military Unit (UME) under the Ministry of Defence, that also runs emergency exercises in cooperation with the Emergencies and Risk Management Unit in Ávila, Segovia, Cuenca, Úbeda, Córdoba and Ibiza.

Lessons learned from previous disaster events have led to the development of a considerable number of good practices, especially those linked to cultural heritage recovery. As for example,  the establishment of a master plan for cultural heritage restoration after the Lorca earthquake in 2011; which consisted of different phases, from the analysis and diagnosis of the earthquake effects on cultural heritage assets, through the design and implementation of recovery strategies and management strategies, until the launch of outreach programs and data publications. The master plan overall received many acknowledgments due to the good level of results achieved.

Spain oversees the storage of safeguarded and displaced cultural heritage assets through a net of relevant cultural heritage depositories spread all over the country, such as in Meco (Madrid), which are under the responsibility of the Department of Infrastructures and Equipment of Culture. These areas, although not included in local emergency plans, are provided with appropriate equipment to respond to incidents.

As for the capacities dealing with operational activities aimed at cultural heritage safeguard, in addition to the above mentioned UEGR, national available resources are the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG), specialized teams belonging to the Emergency Military Unit (UME), the Fire Fighters of the Spanish World Heritage Cities Group and the National Committee of Blue Shield. Training for all actors involved in cultural heritage protection is provided by the General Direction for Civil Protection, the Institute of Cultural Heritage in Spain, UME and the Spanish World Heritage Cities Group. UME, in particular, runs a yearly national exercise that includes CH safeguarding during disasters. In this respect, good practices are available from the lessons learned at the International Conference for Emergencies Management in Cultural Heritage and the Courses of Emergencies and Risk Management in Cultural Heritage.

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