Civil defence protects the civilian population
The Ministry of the Interior leads and coordinates national civil defence. Rescue services are responsible for civil defence duties falling under their mandate at the national, regional and local levels.
The purpose of civil defence is to
- protect the civilian population from armed conflict
- help the population to survive the direct effects of armed conflict
- enable the civilian population to survive in times of emergency
Civil defence is mainly activated during times of war or when there is a threat of war, but civil defence measures may also be initiated during a major catastrophe, such as an accident involving radiation.
Warning and evacuation are civil defence duties
Civil defence duties include warning the population, evacuation to shelters, firefighting and rescue operations, and medical care. The same authorities are responsible for civil defence and rescue services during both normal times and emergencies.
Under the Emergency Powers Act, the authorities can call upon additional resources during emergencies, by ordering more manpower for firefighting, rescue, first aid, maintenance, and clearance and cleaning duties, and for civil defence organisation management and special duties.
Civil defence has a special status, which is defined in international agreements. Civil defence personnel, material and facilities enjoy special protection during armed conflicts. The distinctive, international symbol of civil defence is an equilateral blue triangle on an orange ground.