The voluntary work of Civil Protection was established as a consequence of the great emergencies that have hit Italy in the last 50 years: the floods of Florence in 1966 and the Friuli and Irpinia earthquakes above all. A great spontaneous mobilisation of citizens made it clear that the solidarity of the people was by no means lacking, but an organised public system which knew how to employ them and get the best out of them was required. Since then the voluntary organisation of the Civil Protection Department has blended religious and non-religious bodies and guarantees the right to receive professional relief.
With law no. 225 dated February 24 1992, establishing the National Service of Civil Protection, the voluntary organisations took on the role of “national operative structure” and became an integral part of the public system.
The Civil Protection Department – following administrative decentralisation – stimulates and creates, also in the local authorities, a strong sense of national identity by the Civil Protection volunteers to promote a quick response throughout the territory. The volunteers also integrate with the other territorial levels of intervention envisaged in the organisation of the national system of Civil Protection, on the basis of the principal of vertical subsidiarity. Another actor of the system and of the local territory is: protecting the community in collaboration with the institutions, on the basis of the horizontal subsidiarity principle.
In order to check and test the emergency intervention organisation models, the Department and the Regions promote drills which simulate real risk situations.
The organisations of volunteers participate in the drills promoted by the competent authorities as regards Civil Protection and, as operative structures of the national system of Civil Protection, can also promote and organise relief trials which test the research and intervention capacity.
National Council of volunteers
With decree of January 25 2008 published in the Official Gazette of the Italian Republic no. 61 dated March 12 2008, the Prime Minister established the National Council of Volunteers of Civil Protection at the Department of Civil Protection of the Prime Minister’s Office. This collegial body with consulting functions has the job of discussing the problems regarding promoting, training and developing the volunteers of the Civil Protection system. The Council also has the job of coordinating the volunteer organisations with the other members and operative structures of the National Service.
The Council is made up of a representative for each national volunteer organisation, with offices in at least six regions, registered in the national list established at the department of Civil Protection. The Chairman, in harmony with the Department, convenes the Council each time he or she feels the need and in any case, at least three times a year. Apart from the members, the Head of the Civil Protection Department, the manager of the institutional and international relations of the volunteers office, the coordinator of the voluntary service and a representative of the national association of voluntary firemen, a representative of the Italian Red Cross, a representative of the National Mountain and Speleological Rescue Corps as well as the directors of the Civil Protection department, who are called upon in relation to the items on the agenda, participate in the Council meetings. The voluntary service of the volunteers office, institutional and international relations of the Department is taken care of by the secretary.
The Chairman of the Council, in specific cases, may proceed with the sittings, inviting people to offer their contribution to the knowledge of the items discussed. Furthermore, to examine particular questions of a technical-specialist nature, the Council may establish specific workgroups.
The council was updated with Decree of the Department Head dated July 30 2010.