The national disaster management system of Latvia is organised and regulated under the legislative framework of Civil Protection and Disaster Management Law. The law determines the competence of civil protection system and disaster management subjects to ensure the safety and protection of people, the environment and property in case of a disaster or threats.
The civil protection system is a component of the national security system, formed by the state and local government authorities.
The prime minister is responsible for the functioning of the system and the implementation of tasks, while the state fire and rescue service of Latvia, which is subordinate to the ministry of interior management, manages, coordinates, and controls the operation of the system and civil emergency planning.
In the event of a crisis, the crisis management council, led by the prime minister and supported by the crisis management council secretariat, coordinates civil-military cooperation and the operational measures of state administrative institutions to ensure a rapid response and coordination of unified and timely implementation of political decisions. The civil protection commission of the local government cooperation territory, established and managed by the municipal authorities, is responsible for the coordination of civil protection measures in the event of disaster in the relevant administrative territories.
Preventive measures under the civil protection system in Latvia are based on risk assessment results and performed by the competent ministries involving the authorities that are subordinate to the ministry of interior management or local government.
Considering risk assessment and disaster management measures, responsible authorities develop and manage implementation of various civil protection plans. All developed plans are based on the content specified in Cabinet of Ministers regulation No. 658 ‘Provisions regarding the structure of civil protection plans and the information to be included therein’, which implies that developed plans include preventative measures.
Civil Protection and Disaster Management Law outlines that risk assessment should involve risk identification, risk analysis and risk evaluation. The state fire and rescue service of Latvia has developed ‘Recommendations for Disaster Risk Assessment’, describing the relevant criteria, process and methods for conducting the assessment, and ‘Potential Hazard Catalogue’, listing and regularly updating information about potential hazards that may or have occurred in Latvia.
The disaster management in Latvia is organised under the legislative framework of Civil Protection and Disaster Management Law. The responsible authorities coordinate disaster management and their tasks in the civil protection system are the following:
Risk assessments, developed by the responsible ministries, are incorporated in the state civil protection plan, where is there determined tasks for the institutions for implementation of prevention measures. The state civil protection plan is revised annually by the Ministry of the Interior.
Preventive measures for such risks as storm, blizzard, icing, fluvial or coastal floods or ice jams include establishment of a common system for the preparation and distribution of hydro-meteorological warnings, providing information on the expected meteorological/hydrological phenomena and their consequences and the necessary action.
Civil Protection and Disaster Management Law states that people have the right to receive an early warning and recommendations regarding action in case of a disaster or threats, and to receive assistance from the state and local government authorities.
Brochures, social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter, and mass media channels such as TV and radio stations are used to inform people on how to prepare and what to do in the case of emergency or disaster.
Civil protection is integrated in the educational system of Latvia, where a mandatory course for the civil protection has been introduced, providing education about civil protection from young age. The requirements for the content of the course is determined by the Cabinet of Ministers regulation No. 716 ‘Minimum requirements for the content of the mandatory civil protection course and the content of civil protection training for employees.
Types of civil protection exercise and procedures for organising the exercise in Latvia are regulated by the Cabinet of Ministers Regulation No.341. This Regulation determines exercises at four levels, where exercises to test for disaster preparedness are conducted locally (every 3 years), regionally (every 4 years) and nationally (every 4 years) exercises.
Latvia has organised exercises in the frame of Union Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM), as well as various exercises in the frameworks of realised projects. In 2016, LatMODEX took place in Latvia aiming to prepare modules and experts for international operations in the frame of UCPM. Four teams from Germany (HCP), Slovakia (HCP) Germany (TAST) and Czech Republic (FRB) took part in the floods related exercise. Union Civil Protection Team composed of experts from seven countries ensured coordination of the incoming assistance.
The national risk assessment is a starting point for implementing early warning systems. After identifying risks, measures of preventive solutions can be undertaken, such as monitoring of the risks to detect potential forthcoming or occurring emergency.
Latvia has implemented floods, radiological and nuclear emergencies, earthquakes, meteorological emergencies (storm, blizzard, tornadoes), epidemic emergencies, epiphytotic emergencies, forest fire early warning monitoring systems.
The Cabinet of Ministers Regulation No.440 ‘Procedures for the establishment, operation and financing of the National Early Warning System’ determine the State Fire and Rescue Service of Latvia as the responsible institution for receiving information about threats of or information about the disaster from international organisations, state and local authorities, as well as individuals.
The decision to activate the country-wide early warning system can be taken by the Chief of the State Fire and Rescue Service. However, in the administrative territory, this responsibility lies with the head of the territorial unit of the State Fire and Rescue Service. Not all disasters can be predicted, such as road accidents with a hazardous substance leak or a main gas pipelines accident. In such cases, the manager (incident commander) of rescue works informs the State Fire and Rescue Service of the need to activate early warning systems.
The legislative framework of Civil Protection and Disaster Management Law determines disaster management subjects and their area of responsibility for coordination of disaster management.
Host Nation Support in Latvia is organised based on the instruction issued by the Cabinet of Ministers ‘On the Provision of Host Nation Support’. Host Nation Support should be understood as the civil-military assistance to allied forces and capacities and organisations of the European Union and NATO located on, operating in or transiting through the territory of Latvia as the host nation. The competent authority responsible for the planning and provision of the Host Nation Support is Ministry of Defence in cooperation with number of bodies involved in the provision of HNS within the scope of their competence. In addition, to ensure effective Host Nation Support, Latvia links to ‘EU Host Nation Support Guidelines.