The Civil Protection Department has been grounded in the offices of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers since 1982.
It has a guiding role, in agreement with regional and local governments, of projects and activities for the prevention, forecast and monitoring of risks and intervention procedures that are common to the whole system.
The Department coordinates the response to natural disasters, catastrophes or other events – events of C type – that intensity and extent, should be faced with extraordinary powers and means.
Moreover, also in agreement with the regional governments and local authorities, working in the drafting of legislation on the prevention of risks and regulatory measures needed to cope with disasters and minimize damage to people and property.
It promotes drills, national and international training projects and activities that contribute to spreading the culture of civil protection.
The Department of Civil Protection has the function of addressing, promoting and coordinating the National Service of civil protectionThrough the various bodies of the National Service – Joint Committee on State-Regions-Local Authorities, the National Commission for major risks prediction and prevention, Operational Committee of civil protection – the Department has an ongoing relationship with all the national components and the operating structures to ensure the various activities as provided for by law n. 225 of 1992.
With its technical offices – working in close collaboration with the civil protection structures of the Regions and Autonomous Provinces – and with the support of the Centres of Competence, the Department is in charge of daily prediction and prevention of natural and man-made risks. In particular, it guarantees the operation of the national early warning system through the network of Functional Centres and promotes and carries out pprogrammes and projects for risk reduction and mitigation.
The Department plays also an important role in addressing and coordinating emergency planning carried out by local institutions and in promoting and organizing civil protection drills, useful to test organizational and operational procedures.
The Central Functional Centre operates within the Department too: it is a strategic hub of the Functional Centres network – that deals with predicting, monitoring and real-time surveillance of natural phenomena – and the coordinating centre Sistema, at the Sala Situazione Italia, that monitors emergency situations throughout the national territory. Also, COAU – Joint Air Operations Centre – which coordinates the National air fleet to fight forest fires, and the COEMM – Operations Centre for Maritime Emergencies – operate at the headquarters of the Department.
Among its powers, the Department supports the civil protection voluntary work – as specifically provided for by Presidential Decree no. 194 of 2001 – training activities for the various players in the system, the promotion of initiatives for the dissemination of knowledge of civil protection and information to the public.
The Department has also the duty of coordinating the activities of first response to natural disasters, catastrophes or other events that, due to their intensity and extent, must be dealt with immediate intervention and with extraordinary powers and means. With the declaration of a state of national emergency by the Council of Ministers, it is up to the Head of the Department of Civil Protection to issue ordinances that will regulate the carrying out of the first interventions.
At international level, the Department of Civil Protection promotes agreements and technical -scientific programs to implement risk prediction and prevention, organizes and takes part in drills involving different countries, participates in projects of exchange and knowledge sharing, experiences and methods of intervention and contributes to the spread of the culture of civil protection at the international level.
Through the Department, Italy also participates in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. The mechanism is a tool of the European Union that was created to effectively and promptly respond to emergencies that occur inside and outside the Union, through the sharing of the resources of all the Member States.
In recent years, , the Department of Civil Protection has played an important role in the international sector both supporting the European Mechanism – through the use of experts and teams in major international missions – and promoting dialogue and synergy between the United Nations and Europe, with the aim of contributing to the improvement of the response of the international community in case of disaster.
As for national emergencies, the Department can cope with disasters in the international arena, following the declaration of state of emergency and the issuance of orders for civil protection (Law no. 152 of 2005).