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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations
Civil protection France
© French Civil Protection


The Directorate-General for Civil Protection and Crisis Management (DGSCGC), within the Ministry of Interior, is responsible for anticipating and monitoring crises affecting internal and civil security.

The DGSCGC contributes to interministerial planning for national security and monitors national operational activity through its operational centre (COGIC). It has national resources to support local rescue operations (airborne resources, armed civil security forces, deminers).

The Directorate ensures the management of civil security and major crises entrusted to the minister of the Interior by implementing an "interministerial crisis cell" (CIC).

The territory is subdivided into 12 defence and security zones on whose prefect (PZDS) has extended competencies in terms of coordination and mobilisation of resources when an exceptional situation is likely to exceed the limits or capacities of a department. To this end, he has an interministerial headquarters (EMIZ) and an operational centre (COZ).

When crises strike, the departmental prefect ensures the coherence and unity of public action through coordinating public, private, and associative actors and local authorities.

Emergency services are provided daily under the mayor’s authority, by municipal or departmental, civilian or military bodies, with 22% of civil and military firefighters and 78% of firefighters being volunteers.



National defence and security planning is carried out :

  • at national level, by the General Secretariat for National Defence and Security (SGDSN) in coordination with the ministries or, at sea, with the General Secretariat for the Sea (SG Mer)
  • at territorial level, by the prefects of the defence and security zone in coordination with the prefects of the department or, at sea, by the maritime prefect in coordination with the zone prefects and the department prefects.

For example, the Ministry of the Interior (Directorate-General for Civil Protection and Crisis Management) is responsible for public order, the protection of people and property and the safeguarding of installations and resources of general interest.

Crisis planning is based on the civil security response organisation (ORSEC) (ministerial instruction of 1952 and civil protection modernisation law of 13 August 2004).

Risk assesment

Crisis planning is based on the civil protection response organisation (ORSEC) created in 1952.

The system is divided into 3 territorial levels (departmental, zonal and maritime) and is based on

  • a chief
  • a network of actors (SAMU, police, gendarmerie, fire brigade, associations, communes, departmental councils, network operators, companies)
  • a risk inventory
  • exercises.

Since the 2000s, national plans have been developed under the impetus of the General Secretariat for National Defence and Security (SGDSN).

These include: (i) population displacements in 2003, (ii) electrical continuity in 2009, (iii) CBRN in 2010, (iv) prevention and fight against a flu pandemic in 2011, and (v) response to a major nuclear or radiological accident in 2014.

National plans have been adopted within a ministerial framework: (i) hydrocarbon resources plan in 2003, (ii) national heat wave plan in 2018, (iii) national response plan to a smallpox threat in 2006, and (iv) extreme cold plan in 2017.

Risk management planning

In France, disasters are mainly technological or caused by natural hazards.

Concerning natural threats, between 2001 and 2022, forest fires constitute the most frequent risk (26.7%) followed by floods (14.4%), avalanches (13.3%) and storms (6%). As regards human-induced threats, France has 500,000 establishments covered by classified installations, including nuclear risk, dams, mines, and the transport of dangerous materials.

Between 2001 and 2022, 1964 damaging natural events occur in France. The number of annual events increased by an average of 3.7% per year (compared with the world average of 2.3%).

Disasters caused by natural hazards claimed 30,824 victims during the period, with the heat wave alone causing 19,490 deaths (63.2% of the total number). The total cost was estimated at €49 billion with an average annual cost of €2.4 billion.


Training and exercises

The French civil security forces, rescue workers and firefighters are required to carry out daily training and local or regional exercises. Public or private establishments protected by a special plan are legally obliged to organise annual training.

In the same way, establishments covered by safety plans are required to carry out this exercise. The texts also provide for departmental or zonal exercises.

The DGSCGC organises or participates in European exercises. It deploys one or more of its modules, whether declared or not, in the Common Emergency Communication and Information System (CECIS), e.g., the "EU Domino 2022" full-scale exercise in 2022).

Early warning systems

In terms of early warning and in the civil domain, France collaborates with METEO France and VIGIE CRUES for climatic phenomena, with the CNALT for tsunami warnings, with the IPSG and the CEMS for earthquake forecasting.

It also has a network of siren warnings to populations (RNA), the SENTINELLE network for health warnings, the GALA network for municipal warnings, and the CEDRE network for accidental pollution.

The DGSCGC relies on these predictive analyses to pre-position itself in the event of the occurrence of a hazard or a proven risk (forest fires).

Emergency response

The mayor is the first level of the civil protection response (alerting the population, supporting the emergency services, supporting the population, informing the authorities). Their action is completed and framed by the law of 13 August 2004 establishing the communal safeguard plan and the communal civil security reserve.

The departmental prefect is the director of operations in the event of a major crisis. The prefect of the defence and security zone has a coordinating role if the consequences of the event go beyond the limits of a department.

Finally, planning is based on the civil protection response organisation (ORSEC), which also identifies the actors in the event of an intervention:

  • the emergency medical service (SAMU)
  • the police  
  • the gendarmerie
  • the interdepartmental fire and rescue service (SDIS)
  • associations
  • the communes  
  • EPCIs (intercommunality);
  • the Departmental Council
  • network operators
  • companies.

Cross-border, European and international cooperation

Cross-border, bi- or multilateral cooperation is a priority for the DGSCGC, which internationally applies the French crisis management model.

The DGSCGC, a specialised European agency, contributes to the efficiency of this model, ensures an exportable operational capacity, and participates fully in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.

Furthermore, it promotes and disseminates the French civil protection culture by publicising and transmitting the innovative matrices developed for crisis management.

These orientations are implemented through several complementary methodologies:

  • development of bilateral and multilateral partnerships
  • active participation in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism
  • provision of experts
  • preparing for a crisis and taking into account good practices
  • presence in international bodies.

Facts & figures

General contact point:

Ministère de l’intérieur
Direction Générale de la Sécurité Civile et de la Gestion des Crises
Place Beauvau
F-75800 Paris Cedex 08.
Tel: +33 1 49 27 49 27
dgscgc-sec-directionatinterieur [dot] gouv [dot] fr (Email)

Contact details to be used in case of emergencies:

Centre opérationnel de gestion interministérielle des crises (COGIC)
cogic-odpatinterieur [dot] gouv [dot] fr (Email)

Contact point for international cooperation projects:

Contrôleur général Bruno ULLIAC
bruno [dot] ulliacatinterieur [dot] gouv [dot] fr (Email)

Related pages

Last updated: 24/06/2022