Estonian ministry proposes requirements for shelters

Estonian ministry proposes requirements for shelters.
Estonian ministry proposes requirements for shelters. Photo: Mihkel Maripuu

The Ministry of the Interior is leading the regulation of sheltering arrangements in Estonia with plans underway to mandate the construction of shelters for new buildings and to also set requirements for refuges in existing buildings.

Interior Minister Lauri Laanemets said at a press conference that it is time to catch up on 30 years of backlog in civil protection.

«Looking at the security situation in our region, it's crucial that we start acting today so that our people would be protected in case of military threats. Military resilience is only as strong as the support in the rear. Sheltering plays a vital role in broader civilian protection because it helps save lives when the enemy attacks the civilian population instead of military targets -- as the Russians have done in Ukraine for the past two years,» he said.

Laanemets added that it is important that significant steps are taken with actual possibilities and capabilities in mind, so that meeting the requirements would not be unreasonably burdensome for people, apartment associations, institutions and businesses.

Director General of the Rescue Board Margo Klaos noted that the goal is for people to know where and how to take shelter in case of military attack and to survive.

«Currently, our focus is on providing comprehensive support and advice to local governments and apartment associations for adapting facilities for sheltering, for example, in basements of apartment buildings or public facilities. We are also continuing with the marking of public shelters. Our goal is that in four years, at least 40 percent of the population will know where and how to take shelter,» Klaos said.

The bill on sheltering aims to establish a requirement for the construction of shelters for all buildings with an area over 1,200 square meters. For existing buildings of the same size, requirements will be set to create refuges wherever possible. Before proceeding with the bill, the Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Climate, and Ministry of Justice will analyze the possibilities for imposing the shelter requirement on buildings that have already been issued a construction permit but where construction has not yet begun. The precise technical requirements for shelters will be developed in parallel with the draft law, in cooperation with industry experts and associations, and will be established by a regulation from the minister of the interior.