On 1st January 2004, the Federal Council enacted the new "Federal Law on Civil Protection and Protection and Support" (BZG). On 4th October 2002, it had been passed by the federal parliaments (only one dissenting vote). A referendum was subsequently held on the BZG on request by a citizens' initiative, making use of its statutory right. On May 18 2003, 80.6% of the Swiss population voted in favour of the new law.
Civil protection is an integrated management, protection, rescue and relief system. The partner organisations - police, fire services, health services, technical services and P&S (protection and support) - are in charge of their specific tasks, and provide mutual support. Joint management ensures coordinated planning and preparation, and operational command in case of deployment.
The Federal Office for Civil Protection supports the cantons and municipalities as well as the partner organisations in their civil protection activities. With the creation of the FOCP in 2003, all areas of the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport DDPS, which specialise in civil protection issues were grouped together. This restructuring reflects the growing importance of civil protection.