Law 225/1992: the birth of the National Service

Aquila 2009 - militari scavano tra le macerieIn 1981 the regulation executing law 996 dated 1970 determined the ordinary (Ministry of State, Prefect, Government Commissioner in the Region, Mayor) and extraordinary (Extraordinary Commissioner) Civil Protection bodies for the first time and regulated their respective competencies. Civil Protection was defined as the State’s primary task. Talk began of preventing calamitous events, by determining and studying their causes.

It was the state bodies – Prefect and government Commissioner – to perform the most important role in managing the emergency. In 1982 the figure of the minister for coordinating the Civil Protection (law no. 938/1982) was formalised, a sort of “permanent commissioner” ready to intervene in the event of an emergency. In this way it was possible to avoid nominating a commissioner each time and create the organisational machine from scratch. The minister for Coordinating the Civil Protection department availed of the Civil Protection Department, also established in 1982 within the Prime Minister’s Office (Service Order of April 29). Instead of establishing a special ministry, with a bureaucratic structure of an equal level compared to the other ministries, a more streamlined extra ministerial organisation was chosen, which was capable of coordinating all the forces which the Country may avail of.

The department of Civil Protection received all the information and data regarding forecasting and preventing emergencies, prepared the actuation of the national and territorial plans of Civil Protection, organised the coordination and management of the emergency services, promoted the voluntary initiatives and coordinated the emergency planning for the purposes of Civil Protection.

The Civil Protection now followed four main paths: forecasting, prevention, relief, restoring normality.

The definitive change arrived with law 225 of 1992 and the birth of the National Service of Civil Protection, with the job of “protecting the integrity of life, the heritage, the settlements and the environment from damage or from the danger of damage deriving from natural calamities, from catastrophes and other calamitous events”. The Civil Protection structure was thoroughly reorganised as a coordinated system of competences provided by the administrations of the State, the Regions, the Provinces, the Municipalities and the other local authorities, the public bodies, the scientific community, volunteers, rolls and professional boards and any other institutions even private ones.

The whole Civil Protection system was based on the principle of subsidiarity. The first response to the emergency, whatever the nature and the extent of the event, must be guaranteed on a local level, starting from the municipal structure, the nearest institution to the citizens. The first person responsible for Civil Protection was, therefore, the mayor: in the event of emergency he or she was responsible for managing and coordinating relief and assisting the population, organising the municipal resources according to established emergency plans to counter specific territorial risks. When an event cannot be coped with using the means provide by the city, the higher levels were mobilised by means of integrated action: the Province, the Prefecture, the Region, the State.

comitato operativoThis complex system of skills was connected by the functions of impulse and coordination assigned to the Prime Minister, who availed of the Department of Civil Protection.  Law 225/92 defined the Civil Protection activities: apart from relief and activities aimed at overcoming the emergency, also forecasting and preventing.

The system was not, therefore, limited to relief and assistance to the people, but also defined the causes of the natural calamities, determining the risks present on the territory and provided all the actions necessary to avoid or keep the possibility of natural calamities causing damage down to a minimum.  Calamitous events were classified by their extent and seriousness, to three different types. For each event, the competent levels of Civil Protection to be activated first were determined: a (municipal level), b (provincial and regional) and c (State). In “type c” events, which must be combated with extraordinary means and powers, the competence for coordinating relief was assigned to the Prime Minister, who may nominate delegate commissioners.

The Council of Ministers, on a proposal of the Prime Minister, deliberated the state of emergency, determining its duration and territorial extent. The Prime Minister may issue emergency decrees and decrees aimed at avoiding danger situations or damage to persons or things.
The National Commission for Forecasting and Preventing Great Risks was established at the Department of Civil Protection and it performed the technical-scientific consultancy as regards forecasting and preventing and the Operative Committee of the Civil Protection Department. The members and the National Operative Structures of the National Service of Civil Protection were defined.

The National Service acknowledged the civil volunteer initiatives and ensured coordination. The law included voluntary services amongst the operative components and structures of the Service and established that participation of citizens and voluntary organisations of Civil Protection must be assured in the activity of forecasting, prevention and relief, in view of or on occasion of natural calamities or catastrophes.

Historically, law 225 represented a moment of transformation between the centralising phase and the decentralising one: the operative skills remained the responsibility of the central and peripheral administration of the State, but for the first time significantly increased the weight of the Regions, the Provinces and the Municipalities, above all as regards the forecasting and prevention.