Director of Fire Authority Criticizes New Bill Skip to content

Director of Fire Authority Criticizes New Bill

Director of the Icelandic Fire Authority Björn Karlsson has claimed a new bill on civil defense submitted by Minister of Justice Björn Bjarnason will give the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police too much authority of centralization.

According to Karlsson, the Commissioner of the Icelandic Police would only require such extensive authority in case of an atomic war, Fréttabladid reports.

Karlsson said the local authorities should be in charge in the event of emergencies, adding that all local authorities in the capital region agree with him.

The bill is a proposed amendment from laws from 1936 stating that local authorities are responsible for crisis management. But according to the new bill, the National Commissioner should be in charge and decide whether a state of emergency should be declared.

“The National Commissioner is also supposed to be responsible for preventive measures, preparations, contingency plans, training and reaction to the crisis. It is nearly impossible that he is capable of all that,” Karlsson said.

“It would be OK if there was an atomic war and a situation of complete exigency in the entire country,” Karlsson continued. “But in case of an extensive fire within a certain municipality, earthquake or a volcanic eruption, the locals have the necessary equipment and have practiced the proper reaction.”

Jón Vidar Matthíasson, marshal of the capital region fire department, said the Ministry of Justice had not consulted the Association of Icelandic Marshals while making the bill.

“According to this bill, the police are supposed to be in charge of operations in case of an extensive fire,” Matthíasson said, adding that is comparable to firefighters being in charge in case of terrorism.

Both Karlsson and Matthíasson say it is good that the law on civil defense from 1936 is being amended, but that the local authorities in the capital region will criticize the bill since they want to continue being fully responsible for their citizens.

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