EXE FLEGREI 2019 – the Full Scale Exercise with a focus on cultural heritage protection

“EXE FLEGREI 2019” is the national full-scale exercise that took place from 16 to 19 October 2019 in Campania Region (Southern Italy). The exercise saw the involvement of the Italian civil protection authorities at local, regional and national level: the municipalities in the red zone of the Phlegrean Fields, the Prefecture of Naples, the Campania Region, the relevant Centres of Competence of the Civil Protection Department (INGV, Study Centre Plinivs – LUPT and CNR-IREA) as well as the Regions and Autonomous Provinces twinned with the municipalities of the red zone invited as observers.

EXE FLEGREI 2019 is the closing activity of a project, started some years ago, whose purpose was updating the emergency plans for the volcanic risk of the Phlegraean area;  the exercise included both large-scale and command post activities designed to test  and improve the operational, procedural and methodological aspects of territorial and sector planning elaborated in the last years.

The scenario of EXE FLEGREI 2019 simulated a variation of the monitoring parameters and the occurrence of phenomena that led to a transition from the normal state of yellow alert of the volcano, to a situation of orange alert, up to a state of imminent eruption, i.e. the red alert level. It is worth mentioning that, among the main objectives of this exercise, some were strictly related to the safeguard of cultural heritage during emergencies. EXE FLEGREI 2019 in fact proved to be a successful  simulation aimed at assessing the interoperability and response capacity of the components and operational structures at central and local level, according to procedures for the management of all activities related to the safeguard and protection of cultural heritage in emergency established by the Directive of 2015 issued by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism (MiBACT) drafted in collaboration with the DPC in order to guarantee an effective coordination of relief operations during the response phase.

Moreover, the exercise assessed the effectiveness of the two specialisation courses on cultural heritage protection organised respectively in June and September 2019 by the DPC. The courses were addressed to around 160 civil servants belonging to MiBACT, Campania Region and to associations of civil protection volunteers available for deployment across national territory in support of the activities carried out by the relevant offices of MiBACT, for the safeguard of cultural assets during civil protection emergencies.

From the planning phase of the scenario to the exercise implementation, the DPC Cultural Heritage Group, the same technical team contributing to the design and implementation of PROCULTHER took active part in all the phases of EXE FLEGREI 2019. The Group was constantly operating  in close cooperation with the MiBACT General Secretariat, namely for the coordination and supervision of the activities performed on 18 October after the Cultural Heritage Function within Di.COMA.C (Command and Coordination Centre of the Italian Civil Protection) was activated to coordinate the teams on the field.

Regarding the cultural heritage safeguard and protection, the exercise objectives were to:

Test the procedures of the Cultural Heritage Function within Di.COMA.C where experts from DPC and MiBACT coordinated all activities in the field concerning cultural heritage protection;

Test the MiBACT emergency procedures by activating the Crisis and National Coordination Units and the Regional Coordination Unit, including their integration with the procedures belonging to the coordination centres of the civil protection system;

Test the procedures for the activation of the National Fire Corps, the Carabinieri Cultural Protection Unit including the effectiveness of their mutual coordination;

Test the interoperability of the procedures between specialised volunteers and  MiBACT officers, in collaboration with the managers of the cultural assets (movable and immovable)

177 people participated to EXE FLEGREI : 11 from DPC, 1 from Lombardia Region, 13 from Campania Region, 6 from MiBACT- Regional Coordination Unit, 66 volunteers, 49 officers from MiBACT, 18 Firefighters and 13 Carabinieri).

The exercise represented also an opportunity to test the DPC platform for historical centres and cultural heritage data management and exchange developed by the Italian Civil Protection Department.