The self-assessment exercise, panel interview process and on-site visits have provided the Review Team with documentation, testimony and the opportunity to observe the effectiveness of Italy’s civil protection system, to assess how a selection of its components interact within its operational structure, to identify several best practices and to formulate recommendations for improvement.
Italy’s national territory is exposed to a broader range of natural hazards than any other European country. The vulnerability of its population and built environment is often severe and has in some cases been exacerbated by human activities.
Governance and organisational structure
Civil protection is used to describe organised action aimed at coping with collective threats caused by natural or human induced disasters. In Italy, a unique system of civil protection evolved gradually over the course of the 20th century from basic legislation that first instituted a permanent fire brigade. Like many countries, the governance of civil protection was born of local necessity, but involves central government services when events exceed local capabilities to manage them. Over the past 100 years successive legislative acts have often followed major natural disasters that made clear the need for permanent institutions to manage and lead the many civil protection capacities found throughout various ministries, levels of government, scientific institutes, industry and volunteer associations; from forest fire fighters and the national police to volcanic monitoring and canine units.
Analysis of Italy's civil protection system
The civil protection system in Italy draws from numerous actors at central, regional, provincial, and municipal levels of government, acting in concert with private actors such as volunteer organisations, the scientific research community and operators of critical infrastructure, to provide efficient preparation and effective response to disruptive events. The National Civil Protection Service (NCPS) is a legally established institution that strengthens coherency of action amongst these various actors and the diverse sets of expertise and/or resources that they provide.
Risk assessment, prevention and early warning
When the Italian National Civil Protection Service (NCPS) was established in 1992, forecasting and prevention measures were included in the scope of civil protection. The concept of prevention is no longer limited to the rescue of persons in emergency situations and reconstruction or restoration, but also includes measures to limit the major risks in Italy. There has been an important shift in the legislation from a system that focused primarily on post emergency intervention to a system that includes risk assessments, forecasting and risk prevention measures. The tasks and responsibilities for these upstream activities involve civil protection actors at central and regional levels of public administration and the scientific community.
Risk communication and preventative information
"Building a culture of prevention is not easy. While the costs of prevention have to be paid in the present, its benefits lie in a distant future. Moreover, the benefits are not tangible; they are the disasters that did not happen."– UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
Preparedness and real time response
The Prime Minister issued on 3 December 2008 Operational Guidelines for Emergency Management to regulate the information flow between the different actors involved, the activation and co-ordination of the components and structures of the Italian National Civil Protection Service (NCPS), to describe the organisational model of the emergency management at a national level to support and adequately contribute to the local civil protection response, and to guarantee the necessary operational co-ordination of emergency management.
Post-event issues, emergency overcoming
The frequency and high magnitude of damages from natural disasters in Italy create specific challenges for recovery and reconstruction in addition to the loss of human life, damages to buildings, equipment and inventory resulting from the initial event itself. Considerable indirect costs may arise, mainly through two channels: the disruption of supply in goods and services, particularly in vital systems such as health and energy; and negative reactions from the public. Special efforts must therefore be made in support of rapid reconstruction and to help economic activity resume. At the same time a disaster is a window of opportunity to foster public dialogue on the adoption of policies that can reinforce the prevention of damages from future events.
Synthesis of conclusions and recommendations
On the basis of its review mission and analysis of material provided by the different components and operational structures of the National Civil Protection Service, the Review Team has found that the Italian civil protection system benefits from a unique and coherent approach to crisis management that can be scaled up to the national level, and that it exercises efficient central government co-ordination of emergency responses in the event of disaster under a very dynamic and efficient leadership executed by the Department of Civil Protection (DPC).
Two fundamental pieces of legislation were put into place in the first decades of the 20th century. In 1919 the Public Works Authority was through a law (R.D.L. 2.9.1919 n. 1915) given the responsibility for direction and co-ordination of the rescue services in the event of earthquakes. All civil, military and local authorities depended on the Public Works Authority. This law framed for the first time rescue service in case of natural disasters, but the scope of application was limited to geological events only. In 1926 a law created a permanent structure for rescue services and extended its mandate beyond earthquakes (R.D.L. 9.12.1926 n. 2389). The focus was largely geological disasters and the task assigned was that of rescuing populations affected by emergencies following disasters.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Italy (ENAC) is the national regulator in the technical, economical and operational aviation field and certifies airlines, airports, air navigation service providers (ANSP), manufacturers, maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) organisations, ground handlers, etc. ENAC is engaged in dealing with the diverse regulatory aspects of air transport system and performs monitoring functions related to the enforcement of the adopted rules regulating administrative and economical issues. Its core business is doubtless represented by safety control, in its double meaning of safety and security, according to internationally agreed terms of reference. Safety is understood as the safe planning, construction, maintenance and exploitation of aircraft, as well as the skill assessment of air carriers and inflight personnel. Security is meant as the land-side safeguard of passengers, on board aircraft, inside and outside the airports, aimed at the prevention of illicit acts. ENAC represents Italy in the major international civil aviation organisations such as ICAO , ECAC, EASA and the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation (Eurocontrol) with which ENAC undertakes a continuous dialogue and co-operation. The specific tasks in NCPS in the event of an emergency include the supply of information regarding the operability and capacity of airports, air routes and heliports in the areas affected by the emergency as well as adoption of necessary regulations, in order to facilitate rescue operations, limiting ordinary and commercial flight activities in the airports concerned by the event and identifying alternative intermediate stops and rerouting air traffic.
Respondents may answer with reference to any risk within the remit of NCPS for which they are responsible but focus should be given to natural disasters: earthquakes, volcanoes, floods and forest fires.
The Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV) is part of the National Civil Protection Service and provides in accordance with legal requirements basic hazard data and knowledge and monitors volcanoes and earthquakes. It is not the task of INGV to develop risk analysis and assess vulnerabilities in respect to the population. The Seismic law has established the zones to be studied carefully and education has been introduced for engineers on how to conduct seismic stress studies for buildings. In Italy there are no well defined seismogenic structures as in some other parts of the world where these can be closely linked to the interfaces between the continental plates. INGV is responsible for the National Earthquake Centre, yearly funded by DPC, which can give DPC precise information within 2 minutes on the location and magnitude of seismic activity based on a well-meshed and dense seismometric network for providing real-time information on the occurrence of incidents.
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