For a clear understandig of what an "Integrated Civil Protection System" is and how different tasks are attributed to its component parts, the notion of "service" should be explained first. Civil Protection

  1. is a key public service that must be delivered to the community in the most effective and efficient possible way for the protection of fundamental values, i.e. the integrity of life, property and the environment when disasters occur;
  2. it is a service in the sense that its operations cannot be attributed to a single entity or several centralised bodies in a modern society; rather, it should result from the participation of all social components that may help in the response to adverse events. This service is one of the key tasks incumbent upon the Public Administration and requires the setting up of a system before disaster strikes. Here is a major difference from the past, when civil protection was considered an incidental and occasional task requiring the pooling together of different forces for rescue operations to help the population.

Today, civil protection does not fall within the competence of a single power but is rather the result of several organisational, operational and administrative stakeholders working together in a coordinated manner.


In short, civil protection today can be seen as an integrated system, because the competence for civil protection tasks cannot be attributed to a single power. As we live in a pluralistic society with a participatory public administration, civil protection requirements should be addressed by a plethora of different bodies and powers, as well as by private citizens. However, this multi-stakeholder approach requires some coordination and organisation in order to prevent interferences and duplications or power vacuums from occurring and to channel the available resources towards the attainment of a single public goal.

All State powers, including Municipalities, Provinces, Regions and the Central Government (Civil Protection Department under the Presidency of the Council of Ministers), participate in the "Civil Protection Integrated System", each with specific competences and intervention tasks.

The Autonomous Region of Friuli Venezia Giulia embraced the concept of a "Civil Protection Integrated System" with foresight and has taken a leading position in all civil protection issues at a national level.

In order to provide itself with a suitable legal framework, the Autonomous Region of Friuli Venezia Giulia adopted the regional law no. 64 of 31 December 1986 on the "organisation of the civil protection system and regional civil protection measures".

Under this regional law, the Regional Administration (Regional organisation, Directory of the regional organisation) "takes upon itself the important task to ensure the central coordination of all organisational measures and all actions, including data-collection, regulatory and administrative aspects ... in order to protect, within the safety framework of regional social security systems, the integrity of human life and/or property and the environment from any situation or event that is liable to cause serious damage or constitute a serious hazard to them and that needs to be addressed with extraordinary measures due to the type and magnitude of the hazard, and in order to deliver rescue services promptly.”

Such "important task" has been taken on board by the Regional Administration since 1986 and backed by adequate legal, institutional and operational legitimacy.

From a juridical point of view, Regional Law 64/1986 is a comprehensive legal instrument governing in detail the civil protection tasks in the region. The law provides a detailed model of civil protection that is conceived and organised as a permanent and indipendent service within the regional administration and its different departments.

As an overarching principle, article 6 of Law no. 225/1992 identifies Regions as being part of the National Civil Protection Service.

More specifically, article 12 of the same law explicitly acknowledges the legislative competence and the administrative powers of Regions with a Special Status and the para-constitutional law attributing a special status to the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region (c. law 1/1963) sets out the Region's legislative powers in the field of "fire-fighting services" and "disaster prevention and response measures" in article 5, para 20 and 22.

Institutionally, the regional community is the basis that justifies the regional organisation of civil protection services. The Region is the power representing the regional community and is legitimated to rule over civil protection matters in order to meet the needs and safeguard the interests of the local population.

When operating, the permanent and well-structured civil protection organisation established in the Region has been able to address a multitude of emergencies, some of them upon the Central Government's request. Operations are coordinated by the regional civil protection Operational Room that remains operational around the clock and acts as a single point of communication and control. The Operational Room receives the data originating from the monitoring system for hydrogeologic and seismic risks and relative to the control of forest fires. Over the years, the Region realized thousands of infrastructural works to remove hazards and ensure the safety of the regional territory, it supported and promoted volunteers working for civil protection organizations at a municipal level and became involved in solidarity interventions outside its borders with a steadily growing investment of human and financial resources.

Because of its "systemic" design, the regional civil protection organization relies on the crucial role played by Municipalities – which delivered invaluable assistance in the reconstruction work after the dramatic earthquake of 1976 – and Provinces.

In accordance with article 7 of Regional Law 64/1986, “Municipal administrations are the primary civil protection organization within the territory falling under their competence and each Municipality is accountable for the first response when situations or events arise that can be addressed with ordinary measures among those mentioned under article 1, para 1 of this law."

Article 7 also attributes to the Municipality some other tasks, i.e. to participate in the regional civil protection activities and functions; to develop intervention and rescue plans and programmes relative to the potential risks; to organise and run emergency services supporting the higher level services; to organise and coordinate volunteers; to make measurements and collect relevant data to be sent to the civil protection service; to organise and implement awareness-raising actions about the work carried out by the civil protection service among the local population.

Under article 8 of the same regional law 64/1986, the Provinces are also involved in the regional civil protection activities and tasks through the development of provincial programmes and plans, as well as in the organisation and implementation of awareness-rising campaigns aimed at informing the population about the importance of civil protection and the existing risks.

Moreover, the Region plays a crucial role in the national civil protection system, as acknowledged by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers – Department of Civil Protection in a Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Region on 4 May 2002. The MoU highlights the importance attributed by the Department of Civil Protection to the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region, which was chosen as a pilot to test a synergic operational model for civil protection that envisages the concerted organisation of the structure and the disaster-response interventions by the Region and the Central Government.

The citations and recitals to the Memorandum refer to all the applicable legislation, including law 225/1992, legislative decree 112/1998, legislative decree 343/2001, constitutional law 3/2002, as well as the regional law 64/1986 – thus confirming its relevance and stressing the importance of a regional civil protection organisation that is firmly rooted in the local community through its municipal groups, associations, its institutional structure and established operational skills that have been put to the test during interventions both in the region, in other Italian regions and abroad.

The Memorandum of Understanding also takes into account the legislative amendments to civil protection laws after 1997 in the wake of the “Bassanini reform” of the public administration (Law 59/1997 and following) to improve streamlining and devolution of powers. With reference to the regional civil protection system, the MoU:

  • underlines the central role played by the Regional Civil Protection Service in addressing the emergencies identified by the competent National Department of Civil Protection;
  • identifies the regional civil protection Operational Room as a Rescue Coordination Centre under law 225/1992;
  • attributes to the civil protection Operational Room located in Palmanova the role of Functional Centre within the national civil protection system;
  • identifies voluntary organisations as a key component of the regional civil protection system and sets out that they should be coordinated by the regional Civil protection service;
  • calls for the implementation of an integrated regional civil protection system, as requested by the National Department of Civil Protection, in order to provide assistance to other Regions experiencing a state of emergency;
  • underlines the need to promote and develop links among the Functional Centres of the Regions and between them and the National Department of Civil Protection;
  • supports the operational collaboration between the Civil protection system of the Region and the National Department of Civil Protection, including cooperation during the technical tests on the territorial monitoring systems used for civil protection purposes;
  • prompts the Region to take steps in order to ensure the connectivity of the regional civil protection Control room located in Palmanova with the hydrometeorological monitoring network of neighbouring Slovenia and Carinthia.

Another Memorandum of Understanding with important implications for the integrated regional civil protection system was signed with the local Civil Governments (Prefectures) in the Region on 10 January 2005. The Memorandum clarifies the different functions of the local Civil Governments and the Regional Civil Protection, while encouraging their mutual collaboration. Civil Governments are explicitly in charge of managing and coordinating the Central Governments' forces, including the Armed Forces, the Police Forces, the State Forestry Corps, the National Fire Department that provide urgent emergency assistance at a national level. The Regional Civil Protection instead is responsible for managing and coordinating the different components making up the regional integrated civil protection system, including in particular Mayors, Municipalities, municipal voluntary civil protection organisations, civil protection associations and the technical and operational offices of the regional Civil protection for the purposes of prevention, restoration of normal conditions and rapid-response efficient emergency operations both during and immediately after the occurrence of natural disasters.

Furthermore, the Regional Operational Room – Functional Centre – of civil protection in Palmanova is recognised as the single entity responsible for collecting data and assessing natural disasters in emergency situations. The Operational Room must work in close collaboration with the representatives of the Civil Governments in the Region in order to agree on the operational plan for a synergic coordination of interventions. The Regional Operational Room – Functional Centre – of civil protection in Palmanova is also seen as the core of the regional integrated civil protection system and as the point where all institutions and forces operating on different accounts during emergencies or in the face of emergency risks in the regional territory interface both physically and through e-connectivity. In the Integrated System, the Control room should be connected to the Civil Government offices of the Region in order to be able to carry out its tasks.