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Estonia - Disaster management structure

Vademecum - Civil Protection



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Overview

Administratively, Estonia is divided into 15 countries (maakond): Harjumaa (Tallinn), Hiiumaa (Kärdla), Ida-Virumaa (Jõhvi), Järvamaa (Paide), Jõgevamaa (Jõgeva), Läänemaa (Haapsalu), Lääne-Virumaa (Rakvere), Pärnumaa (Pärnu), Põlvamaa (Põlva), Raplamaa (Rapla), Saaremaa (Kuressaare), Tartumaa (Tartu), Valgamaa (Valga), Viljandimaa (Viljandi), Võrumaa (Võru).

Each county (maavalitsus) is headed by a county governor (maavanem), who represents the national government at the regional level. Governors are appointed by the government for a term of five years.

There are 227 local governments in Estonia.

The Estonian civil protection structure is two-dimensional and applies functional responsibility and area responsibility to respond to emergencies.

Functional responsibility implies that the ministry/administration in charge of a specific function directs and co-ordinates the emergency planning of that function at all levels (national, regional and local). The organisation of critical infrastructure protection responsibilities is distributed among different ministries.

Area responsibility implies that responsibilities have been allocated to the different administrative levels (national/central, regional and local) and that emergency planning is handled according to the degree of competence that exists at each different level.

At the national level, the Ministry of the Interior has the overall co-ordinating responsibility for civil protection in Estonia. As a government institution under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Interior, the Estonian Rescue Board has a leading role in planning preparedness for emergencies and the operational management of four Regional Rescue Centres. It is also responsible for the development and implementation of national rescue policies. Civil protection operational resources in the four Regional Rescue Centres belong to the Estonian Rescue Board.

The Rescue Board also represents Estonia in bilateral and multilateral relations in terms of to civil protection and cooperates with the emergency management and civil protection bodies of UN, EU, NATO, and other relevant organisations. Rescue services are divided into four Regional Rescue Centres.

The main areas of activity of the Estonian Rescue Service are:

  • Development of emergency plans for responding to major accidents and eliminating the direct consequences thereof, and advise county rescue service agencies on the preparation of emergency plans
  • Planning and development of communication and information systems for fire-fighting and rescue
  • Direction and coordination, where necessary, of fire extinguishing and rescue work in the event of a major accident
  • Administration and state supervision of fire safety
  • Supervision of the operational readiness of rescue service agencies
  • Administration and implementation of explosive ordnance disposal
  • Drafting of legislation on general applications
  • Formulation of general principles and rules for the procurement of fire-fighting and rescue equipment.

At the regional level, County Governors are directly responsible to the Minister of the Interior. Regional responsibilities are to:

  • Examine and analyse the national crisis management system, including preparedness for emergencies and resolving emergencies while also controlling the functioning of vital (essential) services at regional level
  • Analyse and define possible emergencies and the possibilities of preventing them or minimising their consequences at regional level
  • Review the risk analysis of an emergency of a certain region
  • Assist the person responsible for the emergency and obey his orders
  • Assist all regional agencies, which are responsible for resolving emergencies, in case of communication systems and coordination of emergencies
  • Provide training in crisis prevention, preparedness and response
  • Form a territorial crisis committee, naming the chairman, establishing statutes and approving staff.

The head of the regional crisis management committee is the head of the Regional Rescue Centre.

At the local level, the local Government Council is the highest civil protection authority. The head of the local government crisis management committee is the rural municipality mayor or the city mayor.

Local responsibilities are to:

  • Examine and analyse the national crisis management system, including preparedness for emergencies and resolving emergencies while also controlling the functioning of vital (essential) services in local government
  • Analyse and define possible emergencies, and the possibilities of preventing them or minimising their consequences in local government
  • Review the risk analysis of an emergency of a certain region
  • Assist the person responsible for the emergency and obey his orders
  • Assist all local government agencies, which are responsible for responding to emergencies, in terms of communication systems and coordination of emergencies
  • Provide training in crisis prevention, preparedness and response for local government
  • Inform the public about the emergency.

Organisational chart

Legal basis

At national level

The main regulations regulating civil protection work in Estonia is contained in the Rescue Act and the Emergency Act. Several other acts, directives, decrees and decisions also regulate Estonian civil protection.

Examples of legislation in the field of civil protection in Estonia:

  • The Rescue Act (RTI 1994, 28, 424; 2009, 39, 262), which regulates the organisation of fire and rescue operations and defines responsibilities, rights and accountability in this area
  • The State Reserves Act of 1994, which defines the various classifications of national reserves and how these are administered
  • The Emergency Act of 2009, which prescribes the necessary measures to be taken in the cases of natural disasters or catastrophes and to prevent the spreading of infectious diseases
  • The Estonian Government Crisis Management Committee's Statute, 2001, which defines the Crisis Management Committee's tasks and members
  • The State of Emergency Act of 1996, which defines the basis and conditions for proclaiming the state of emergency, and the tasks and rights of responsible people and organisations during the state of emergency
  • The Regulation on Crisis Management Training, 2009, which lists the requirements for organising regional and local training
  • The Regulation on Participation in International Rescue Operations, 2009, which governs the formation of a team to participate in a rescue operation beyond the territory of the Republic of Estonia (hereinafter mission) under international agreements signed by the Republic of Estonia or on the basis of requests for assistance from foreign countries or international organisations in need of assistance, ensuring the preparedness of the team, the deployment of the team on a mission and defraying the costs of the team.

In the civil protection field, several other acts also apply: the Peace Time State Defence Act, the Health Care Act, the Public Health Act, the Border Guard Act, the Police Act as well as several acts on prevention, e.g. the Radiation Act and the Chemicals Act.

At international level

International intervention is governed by bilateral agreements with neighbouring countries.

Bilateral agreements

Agreements on bilateral cooperation in the field of civil protection with Finland, Sweden and Latvia.

Human and material resources

Civil protection expenditures: Approx. 0.6% of GDP.

Stakeholders

NGOs

Numerous NGOs in the fields of fire-fighting and rescue.