National Civil Protection Service
In Italy the civil protection is divided into a “National Service”, a complex system which includes all the local and central resources necessary for managing a calamity. This civil society represents an active part of the National Service, particularly through the activity of the voluntary organisations. Compared to the other European countries, Italy has widespread risks throughout the territory and for this reason has developed an intervention system which starts from a local level and involves all the administrations. The National Service includes the following in particular:
• Components: they are the local and central administrations like Municipalities, Provinces, Regions and Ministries. All the subjects involved in civil protection events, for various reasons, like public authorities, institutes and groups of scientific research, even private institutions and organisations, associated citizens and groups of civil volunteers professional rolls and boards are also members.
• Operative structures: they are the organised State corps like the Fire brigade, the Armed Forces and the Forestry Commission, the Mountain Rescue Team, the Red Cross and the Health Service structures. Amongst these, the voluntary organisations of the civil protection service have taken on a role of particular importance and they have grown in all regions of the Country in terms of numbers and of operating and specialisation capacity.
The Civil Protection Department is a “special” member because it heads the National Service, directs and coordinates the activities and intervenes directly in the management of the events that require extraordinary resources because of their extent and duration.
Civil Protection activities. The system intervenes to provide relief to the population, to help overcome the emergency and aid a return to normality. The Mayor is the first person responsible for civil protection on the territory and has the job of coping with the initial moments of a calamity and of providing relief to the population, coordinating the local operative structures including the civil protection volunteers.
If the Municipality cannot cope with the emergency alone, the Provincial council and the Government’s territorial offices, that is the Prefecture and the Regional council intervene by activating all the available resources for the areas affected by the calamity. In the most serious situations, central government intervenes: the President of the Council of Ministers (Prime Minister) assumes direct responsibility operating through the Civil Protection Department.
The operation of the system is actually based on the principle of subsidiarity, according to which the nearest administration to the citizens intervenes first, while the superior administrative levels – Provincial council, Regional Council, Central Government – intervene if the administration is incapable of coping with the event with its own means. The emergency actions are planned according to the principles of the “Augustus method”, a simple, streamlined and flexible instrument.
In ordinary time, on the other hand, the administrations are involved at all levels in predicting and planning actions of prevention and mitigation of risks. In this process, the scientific community, which is considered a member of the National Service, plays an essential role.
Legislation. The National Service of civil protection was established with law no. 225 dated 24 February 1992, later integrated and modified by law no. 401 dated November 9, 2001 and no. 152 dated July 26 2005. Over the years the responsibility regarding civil defence has progressively been passed from the State to the local authorities; the main steps of this process were legislative decree no. 112 dated 1998 and the modification of Title V of the Constitution with constitutional law no. 3 dated October 18 2001, with which the Civil Protection became a concurrent subject of legislation, thus of regional competence.