The evolution of rescue legislation

Royal Decree-Law No. 1915 of September 2, 1919, first established the regulatory framework for earthquake relief, identifying the Ministry of Public Works as the authority responsible for direction and coordination.

We had to wait until 1925 for the first organic law regarding civil protection: Law no. 473, dated April 17, identified the Minister of Public Works and its operative wing, the Civil Engineering Department, as the fundamental bodies for relief with the aid of health structures.

Royal Decree-Law no. 2389 dated December 9, 1926, converted into Law no. 833 dated March 15, 1928, further defined the organization of the relief and confirmed the responsibility of the Minister for Public Works as director and coordinator of the interventions and also of the other administrations and bodies of the State, like the Fire Brigade, the State Railways, the Red Cross, etc. The relief was not limited to "telluric disasters" alone but was extended to those "of other kinds."

While awaiting the arrival of the Minister of Public Works or the undersecretary of State at the scene of the disaster, all the civil authorities and soldiers depended on the Prefect, the representative of the government in the province, who coordinated the first interventions. The same power was assigned to the Mayors of the municipal territory. As soon as they became aware of the event, they had to send the fire brigade and the available personnel to the scene, immediately informing the Prefect.