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Protective structures

Shelters and protected premises

Protective structures were designed primarily to protect the population (shelters), and to ensure the readiness of civil protection resources (protected premises) during an armed conflict, especially one involving weapons of mass destruction. They provide a basic form of protection against a wide range of direct and indirect arms impact. They should also be available in the case of disasters and emergencies, for example increased radioactivity, an earthquake or an acute risk of an avalanche.

Shelter space for every inhabitant

To respect the principle of equality, every inhabitant should be guaranteed a shelter in the vicinity of her/his place of residence in the case of armed conflict. Today there are shelters existing for nearly the whole population living in Switzerland. In spite of the large number of shelters (360'000) there may be local shortages. The obligation to construct shelters is maintained.

Cantons regulate shelter construction

Cantons regulate shelter construction according to Federal provisions. They see to it that the obligation to build is obeyed and determine the height of compensation contributions according to Federal legislation. In areas in which there is an insufficient number of shelters, municipalities are obliged to build and equip public shelters. House owners who do not build a shelter, or who live in an area in which the demand is already well covered, must pay compensation to cover the costs of shelter construction and maintenance. Shelters are checked periodically.

Shelters for cultural property

The cantons may obligate owners of cultural property to take or comply with the measures needed for their protection.

Protected premises to ensure management capacities and readiness

The 1700 protected premises include command posts, facilities for rescue units, and protected first aid posts and hospitals. They serve to ensure the management capacities and the readiness of civil protection resources. Command posts serve management and management support functions. Facilities for rescue units are available to the personnel and a part of the equipment of the partner organisation units.

First aid premises

The Confederation defines framework requirements for protected first aid premises. The cantons are obliged to guarantee facilities and treatment in protected hospitals for at least 0.6 percent of the population (combined with an acute care hospital) and in protected first aid posts (not directly linked to an acute care hospital).

Varied level of readiness

At present, an armed conflict with direct repercussions in Switzerland would most probably be preceded by an advance-warning period of several years. This implies that in the short term there is no real use for existing protective structures. On the other hand, there are still a great number of ballistic missiles, with or without weapons of mass destruction, to be found worldwide. Only a limited number of protected premises ready for immediate use will be maintained for training purposes and for the event of a disaster or emergency. The others are to retain their function, with a reduced level of readiness. Regulations on readiness are issued by the Confederation.

Federal Office for Civil Protection FOCP Guisanplatz 1B
CH-3003 Bern


Federal Office for Civil Protection FOCP

Guisanplatz 1B
CH-3003 Bern