The Civil Defence Branch of the Department of Defence, based in Benamore, Roscrea, Co Tipperary is charged with the management and development of Civil Defence at national level. The Civil Defence Branch provides policy direction, centralised training through the Civil Defence College, administrative support and guidance and centralised procurement of major items of uniform and equipment in support of local authority Civil Defence efforts.

Civil Defence operations at local level are carried out under the control of the relevant local authority. The obligations of local authorities to provide such services are grounded in the Air-Raid Precautions Acts 1939-46 (Sections 10 – 16 of the 1939 Act refer). Although originally conceived as temporary emergency measures in wartime, these Acts, in combination with the Local Government Acts of 1941-76 and various Statutory Instruments, continue to provide the legal basis for Civil Defence. 

Civil Defence is funded by way of a grant-in-aid from the Defence Vote. Funding for Civil Defence operations at local level is shared on a 70/30 basis between the Civil Defence Branch of the Department of Defence and local authorities by way of an annual grant to each authority from the Civil Defence Branch (to a max of 70% of each authority’s overall expenditure on Civil Defence). 

Civil Defence services are delivered at local level through the Civil Defence Officer (CDO) of the relevant local authority for that area. The CDO is a full time employee of the local authority and is responsible for the day-to-day management of Civil Defence matters under the overall direction of the relevant City/County Manager. Up to 70% of the basic salary cost for the CDO can be abated as part of the grant from the Civil Defence Branch. CDOs, although employees of the relevant local authority, are appointed under terms and conditions laid down by the Minister for Defence. Volunteers join Civil Defence through the local authority for their area and, in time, might progress and qualify as Instructors.

Civil Defence Volunteer Instructors from all over the country come to Civil Defence Headquarters in Roscrea to be trained in a wide variety of programmes. When trained, Instructors return to their respective local authority areas and pass on the benefit of their knowledge and experience to the Volunteers based there. The Civil Defence College, which is part of the Civil Defence Branch, is recognised as a training institution by regulatory bodies such as the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC) and by FETAC. The Civil Defence Branch Headquarters, with a staff complement of 26, continues to serve as a National Control Centre for the organisation and forms a crucial hub for the Civil Defence national communications network.

In the day to day management of Civil Defence training and operations at local authority level the CDO is assisted by a key team of Instructors, qualified in a range of disciplines, and who do so on a voluntary basis. Apart from the payment of expenses for travel and subsistence, in certain circumstances, Civil Defence Volunteers do not receive any emolument for making themselves available for training, exercises or operations. 

Time and again Civil Defence Volunteer members have displayed their dedication and response capability in support of the primary emergency services and their local communities. Recent high profile activities such as the severe weather response efforts of 2009 & 2010 (17 days of continuous active deployment in Nov/Dec 2009 and 28 days of continuous active deployment in Nov/Dec 2010), the support efforts to the Fire Service at the Kerdiffstown Landfill Site fire in Kildare in 2011 (21 days of continuous active deployment) and the search and recovery efforts at Glandore Bay Harbour, Cork following the sinking of the Tit Bonhomme fishing trawler in 2012 (27 days of continuous active deployment) are testament to the professionalism and dedication of the Volunteer membership.

The International Civil Defence badge is worn by members of Civil Defence, to show they are part of a worldwide network of committed people, prepared to serve in their own country or overseas as part of practical disaster relief assistance. The international sign of Civil Defence is defined under Article 66, paragraph 4 of Schedule V to the Geneva Conventions Act.

Civil Defence is split into 32 administrative areas based largely on Local Authority administrative areas. Civil Defence services are delivered by Local Authorities for their own administrative area through their Civil Defence Officer/ Assistant Civil Defence Officer. These Officers are involved in planning, organising and recruiting for Civil Defence.