The National Disaster Management System is regulated in the Disaster Protection Act, and disaster protection is carried out at the national, regional, and municipal levels.
The Council of Ministers determines the policy for disaster protection. The Council of Ministers is assisted by the Disaster Risk Reduction Council, which acts as the national disaster risk reduction platform.
The Council includes relevant ministries, the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, universities, the municipalities association, the Bulgarian Red Cross, and other organisations working on disaster risk reduction.
The Regional Governors organise and manage the disaster management in the region, assisted by Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Councils.
The mayors organise and manage the disaster protection within the municipalities, assisted by Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Council.
Voluntary formations established at municipal level are under the direct authority of the mayor. They are created on a territorial basis and make an integral part of the Unified Rescue System.
Some of the main activities are:
- rescue operations
- fire limitation and firefighting
- search and rescue operations
- urgent emergency restoration works
- first aid to the victims of fires, disasters, and emergencies
- other operations related to the protection of the population.
There are 239 voluntary formations and 3,154 registered volunteers as of 21 April 2022.
The Disaster Protection Act, the Spatial Planning Act, the Water Act, the Environmental Protection Act, the Safe use of Nuclear Energy Act, the Forest Act, and the Regional Development Act are of key importance as an element of the natural and human-induced risk management.
According to the Disaster Protection Act, prevention activities are undertaken to reduce disaster risks. Disaster risk reduction planning includes the development of a national strategy, national programme, and sectoral, regional, and municipal programmes.
National Disaster Risk Reduction Strategy 2018-2030 defines the vision and expected results, strategic goals, and priority areas. The national programme, which spans 5 years, is developed to implement the national strategy targets.
Regional disaster risk reduction programmes are currently in development to implement the national targets and reduce the risks identified in the regional disaster protection plan.
Municipal disaster risk reduction programmes are developed to reduce the risks identified in the municipal disaster protection plan.
Disaster risks subject to analysis, assessment, and mapping include earthquakes, floods, risk of a nuclear or radiation accident, geological disasters (such as landslides), and forest fires.
Competent authorities that shall carry out disaster risk analysis and assessment are:
- The Regional Development and Public Works Minister for seismic and geological risk
- The Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Agency for nuclear and radiation accident risks
- The Environment and Water Minister for flood risk
- The Agriculture, Food and Forestry Minister for the forest fires risk.
At the regional and municipal level, the risk assessments are developed by the methodology in the development and preparedness for implementing disaster protection plans guidelines. Risk assessments are a mandatory part of the regional and municipal disaster protection plans.
Risk management planning
With the disaster protection plans, it is imperative first to determine the hazards and risks of disasters, and then the measures to prevent or reduce the risk of disasters.
The plans also determine:
- the allocation of responsibilities and the bodies responsible for implementing the measures
- the necessary resources to implement the activities
- the interaction between the components of the unified rescue system, early warnings and alerts order in case of danger or disaster, and recovery measures.
The Disaster Risk Reduction Council develops the national disaster protection plan for the Council of Ministers. The bodies of the central executive power and the constituent parts of the unified rescue system develop disaster protection plans to implement the tasks arising from the national plan for the protection of disasters and plans at the regional and municipal levels.
In accordance with the water act, flood risk management plans have been developed for each of the 4 basin management areas for the period 2016-2021.
Related to geological risks, a national program for prevention, and reduction of landslides on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria, erosion and abrasion on the Danube and the Black Sea Coast for the period 2015-2020 was developed.
In compliance with the forestry act, annual plans for forest fire protection activities are being developed.
Risk communication and awareness raising
Civilians are informed about disaster risks through information campaigns such as leaflets, banners, handbooks, videos, and TV and radio ads.
At the national level, the dissemination of information is mainly through electronic media and social networks via the press centre of the Ministry of the Interior, the web page of the Fire Safety and Civil Protection Directorate-General, specific information website, and the online Fire Safety and Civil Protection magazine SOS 112.
The regional and municipal FSCP directorates also use regional and local mass media and interact with regional and municipal administrations. In addition, they organise meetings and discussions with different target groups to provide materials, presentations, and training to raise awareness and improve people’s preparedness to act.
Children and students receive 5 school hours per year dedicated to disaster risk awareness training.
Training and exercises
The training of Fire Safety and Civil Protection Directorate-General (DGFSCP) staff is carried out in 2 training centres, the Centre for Specialisation and Professional Training in Fire Safety and Rescue in Varna, and the Centre for Professional Qualification in Montana.
The training includes initial training for firefighters, specialised rescue training, and training for team leaders and heads of shifts. The Training Centre in Montana is involved in international training and exercises within the EU Civil Protection Mechanism framework, but also in NATO, IAEA, and regional initiatives.
Under the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, the DGFSCP participated in a consortium for organising and conducting the Assessment Mission Courses. It was the leading partner in the consortium that conducted the Seminar for Mechanism Experts in Sofia.
The DGFSCP regularly participates in the modules’ exercises and is part of a consortium under Lot 3.
More than 79 experts have passed 148 courses under the EU Civil Protection Mechanism Training Programme.
Early warning systems
Early warning systems in Bulgaria are developed to inform the population, governmental agencies, and different units of the Unified Rescue System.
The Early Warning and Population Alert System (siren system) is designed to simultaneously alert a large group of people throughout the country or in a certain region in case of upcoming or emerging disasters. It also provides instructions on necessary measures and actions through acoustic signals and "live" voice information for citizens for acting in emergencies.
The sirens can be operated locally by the local fire safety and civil protection operations centre or centrally by the National Operations Centre (NOC). At present, the system is built entirely at the regional level in the following cities: Burgas, Sofia, Ruse, Pleven, Pazardzhik, Smolyan, Kardzhali, Plovdiv, Varna, Montana, Vratsa, and the 30-kilometre area around the Kozloduy NPP, which means around 36% of the population that can be alerted.
The Early Warning and Alert System of governmental agencies and different units of the Unified Rescue System was set up to inform the Government and emergency responders (all parts of the Unified Rescue System).
With its capabilities, this system ensures rapid mobilisation and response of all competent officials. It improves the coordination of executive authorities and response units at national, regional, and municipal levels.
The emergency disaster response is organised through the Unified Rescue System, which includes structures of ministries, municipalities, companies, volunteers, and the armed forces.
The National Operations Centre (NOC) of the DGFSCP operates as a point of coordination and information for the Unified Rescue System. The NOC is in permanent connection with the 28 Regional Operations Centres in the country.
The NOC carries out around-the-clock duty for the forces and resources of the DGFSCP. It maintains a permanent connection and information exchange on disaster response, fire, and emergencies as a 24/7 national point of contact with the Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC), the NATO Situation Centre (SITCEN), the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC), and the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
The NOC organises the resource management of the FSCP units involved in the mitigation and eradication of emergencies in 2 or more districts in accordance with the National Disaster Protection Plan and standard operating procedures.
Cross-border, European and international cooperation
Bulgaria actively participates in EU cooperation on civil protection, including technical and expert working groups, exercises, and training. It also has several bilateral agreements with neighbouring countries (see column 'more information').
The country participates in several bilateral and multilateral frameworks addressing disaster risks, like the Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Initiative for Southeast Europe (DPPI SEE).
The DGFSCP takes an active part in transboundary projects, like EMERSIS I and II, ROBG-351, INTERREG-IPA CBC Bulgaria-Serbia, Bulgaria-Turkey, etc.
Bulgaria develops a Host Nation Support plan according to EU and NATO guidelines.
DGFCP teams participated in several international missions in the last years in response to:
- the floods in the Republic of Serbia in 2014 with High Capacity Pumping Module in 2 shifts, with 28 and 22 people, respectively
- the floods in the Republic of North Macedonia in 2016, with a pumping team from RDFSCP - Blagoevgrad
- the forest fires in the Republic of North Macedonia in 2021, with the GFFFV module, in 2 shifts of 25 firefighters and 3 pcs. cars.
Facts & figures
Emergency number: 112
Emergency calls are answered in Bulgarian, English, French, and German in general. In some cases, Serbian, Romanian, Greek, Turkish, Italian, Spanish and Russian are spoken.
Other emergency numbers include:
166 - Police
150 - Emergency Medical Services
160 - Fire Brigade
24/7 PoC of DGFSCP – the National Operations Centre, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Fire Safety and Civil Protection (FSCP) directorate
- Information website
- Online Fire Safety and Civil Protection magazine SOS 112
Last updated: 13/05/2022