Course Welcome

The Emergency Management Institute developed the IS-0200.c Basic Incident Command System for Initial Response, ICS 200 course in collaboration with:

  • National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG)
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • U.S. Fire Administration's National Fire Programs Branch
  • United States Coast Guard (USCG)

IS-0200.c follows NIMS guidelines and meets the National Incident Management System (NIMS) Baseline Training requirements for ICS 200.

This course is a part of the series of ICS courses designed to meet the all-hazards, all-agency NIMS ICS requirement for operational personnel. Descriptions and details about the other ICS courses in the series may be found on our Web site.

Image of the United States with logos of Federal Emergency Management Agency, US Department of Agriculture, National Wildfire Coordinating Group, US Coast Guard, US Fire Administration.
Course Objectives

This course is designed to enable personnel to operate efficiently during an incident or event within the Incident Command System (ICS).

This course focuses on the management of an initial response to an incident.

Overall Course Objectives

At the end of the course, you should be able to:

  • Describe the course objectives and summarize basic information about the Incident Command System (ICS) and National Incident Management System (NIMS).
  • Describe how the NIMS Management Characteristics relate to Incident Command and Unified Command.
  • Describe the delegation of authority process, implementing authorities, management by objectives, and preparedness plans and objectives.
  • Identify ICS organizational components, the Command Staff, the General Staff, and ICS tools.
  • Describe different types of briefings and meetings.
  • Explain flexibility within the standard ICS organizational structure.
  • Explain transfer of command briefings and procedures.
  • Use ICS to manage an incident or event.
clock icon
This course should take approximately 4 hours to complete.
Receiving Credit
Students must complete the entire course and pass the final exam to receive credit for the course. Each lesson takes a variable amount of time to complete. If you are unable to complete the course in its entirety, you may close the window and reopen the course at any time. However, depending on the system used to take the course, it is possible you may have to repeat a portion of the last lesson you were studying.
Lesson 1 Overview

This lesson provides an overview of the Incident Command System (ICS) and the National Incident Management System (NIMS).

Lesson Objectives

At the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Describe the Incident Command System (ICS).
  • Describe the National Incident Management System (NIMS).
Arrow next to Course Overview, bullet next to Incident Command and Unified Command, bullet next to Delegation of Authority and Management by Objectives, bullet next to Functional Areas and Positions, bullet next to Incident Briefings and Meetings, bullet next to Organizational Flexibility, bullet next to Transfer of Command, bullet next to Application Activity, bullet next to Course Summary.
Incident Command System (ICS)

ICS:

  • Is a standardized management tool for meeting the demands of small or large emergency or nonemergency situations
  • Represents "best practices" and has become the standard for emergency management across the country
  • May be used for planned events, natural disasters, and acts of terrorism
  • Is a part of the National Incident Management System (NIMS)

ICS is not just a standardized organizational chart, but an entire management system.

Why ICS?
All levels of government, the private sector, and nongovernmental agencies must be prepared to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from a wide spectrum of major events and natural disasters that exceed the capabilities of any single entity. Threats from natural disasters and human-caused events, such as terrorism, require a unified and coordinated national approach to planning and to domestic incident management.
Homeland Security Presidential Directives

HSPD-5, Management of Domestic Incidents, identified steps for improved coordination in response to incidents. It required the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to coordinate with other Federal departments and agencies and State, local, and tribal governments to establish a National Response Framework (NRF) and a National Incident Management System (NIMS).

HSPD-8, National Preparedness, directed DHS to lead a national initiative to develop a National Preparedness System—a common, unified approach to “strengthen the preparedness of the United States to prevent and respond to threatened or actual domestic terrorist attacks, major disasters, and other emergencies.” Click on this link to view HSPD-8.

Presidential Policy Directive 8 (PPD-8), National Preparedness, describes the Nation's approach to preparedness-one that involves the whole community, including individuals, businesses, community- and faith-based organizations, schools, tribes, and all levels of government (Federal, State, local, tribal and territorial). Click on this link to view PPD-8.

 

National Incident Management System (NIMS) Overview

NIMS provides a consistent framework for incident management at all jurisdictional levels regardless of the cause, size, or complexity of the incident.

NIMS provides the Nation's first responders and authorities with the same foundation for incident management for terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and other emergencies.

National Incident Management System, Third Edition October 2017, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Seal, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Major Components of NIMS

Jurisdictions and organizations involved in the management of incidents vary in their authorities, management structures, communication capabilities and protocols, and many other factors.

The major components of NIMS provide a common framework to integrate these diverse capabilities and achieve common goals.

Block diagram with National Incident Management System, Third Edition October 2017, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Seal, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) cover at the top. Bottom boxes labeled Resource Management, Command and Coordination, and Communications and Information Management.
Resource Management
Resource Management describes standard mechanisms to systematically manage resources, including personnel, equipment, supplies, teams, and facilities, both before and during incidents in order to allow organizations to more effectively share resources when needed.
Command and Coordination
Command and Coordination describes leadership roles, processes, and recommended organizational structures for incident management at the operational and incident support levels and explains how these structures interact to manage incidents effectively and efficiently.
Communications and Information Management
Communications and Information Management describes systems and methods that help to ensure that incident personnel and other decision makers have the means and information they need to make and communicate decisions.
NIMS Management Characteristics

This course builds on what you learned in ICS 100 about NIMS Management Characteristics. The NIMS Management Characteristics are listed below.

  • Common Terminology
  • Modular Organization
  • Management by Objectives
  • Incident Action Planning
  • Manageable Span of Control
  • Incident Facilities and Locations
  • Comprehensive Resource Management
  • Integrated Communications
  • Establishment and Transfer of Command
  • Unified Command
  • Chain of Command and Unity of Command
  • Accountability
  • Dispatch/Deployment
  • Information and Intelligence Management 
NIMS Management Characteristic: Common Terminology

NIMS establishes common terminology that allows different organizations to work together in a wide variety of emergency functions and hazard scenarios.

Common terminology helps by reducing confusion and enhancing interoperability.

This common terminology covers:

  • Organizational Functions: Major functions and units are named and defined using standardized terms
  • Resource Descriptions: Resources (personnel, equipment, teams, and facilities) have common naming based on their type and capabilities
  • Incident Facilities: Facilities in an incident area are designated using common terms
NIMS Management Characteristic: Modular Organization

Organizational structures for incident management (ICS and EOCs) are modular, meaning that they are each building blocks that are put in place as needed based on an incident’s size, complexity and hazards.

The ICS Commander and EOC Director are responsible for the establishment and expansion of the modular organization based on the specific requirements for their incident.

As incident complexity increases, the organizational structure expands and management responsibilities are further divided.

The number of management, supervisory, and support positions expand as needed to meet the needs of the incident.

NIMS Management Characteristic: Management by Objectives

In an incident, all activities are directed to accomplish defined objectives. This is called Management by Objectives.

Under ICS, the Incident Commander (or Unified Command) establishes incident objectives.

Management by objectives includes:

  • Establishing specific, measurable objectives
  • Identifying strategies, tactics, tasks, and activities to achieve the objectives
  • Developing and issuing assignments, plans, procedures and protocols to accomplish tasks
  • Documenting results against objectives to measure performance, facilitate corrective actions, and inform development of objectives for the next operational period
NIMS Management Characteristic: Incident Action Planning

Incident action planning guides incident management activities.

Incident Action Plans (IAPs):

  • Record and communicate incident objectives, tactics, and assignments for operations and support
  • Are recommended for all incidents
  • Are not always written, but a written IAP is increasingly important when an incident or activation:
    • Is likely to extend beyond one operational period
    • Becomes more complex
    • Involves multiple jurisdictions or agencies
NIMS Management Characteristic: Manageable Span of Control

Span of control refers to the number of subordinates that directly report to a supervisor.

Maintaining an appropriate span of control ensures effective incident management by enabling supervisors to:

  • Direct and supervise subordinates
  • Communicate with and manage resources

The optimal span of control for incident management is one supervisor to five subordinates; however, the 1:5 ratio is only a guideline and effective incident management often calls for different ratios.

When a supervisor’s span of control becomes unmanageable, they can assign subordinate supervisors or redistribute subordinates to manage portions of the organization in order to regain a manageable span of control.

Span of control can change based on:

  • Type of incident
  • Nature of the task
  • Existing hazards and safety factors
  • Distances between personnel and resources
NIMS Management Characteristic: Incident Facilities and Locations

The Incident Commander, Unified Command or EOC Director establishes incident support facilities for specific purposes.

These facilities are identified and located based on the requirements of the situation.

Incident size and complexity will influence the designation of facilities and locations.

Typical designated facilities include:

  • Incident Command Post (ICP)
  • Incident Base
  • Staging areas
  • Camps
  • Mass casualty triage areas
  • Points-of-distribution
  • Emergency shelters
NIMS Management Characteristic: Comprehensive Resource Management

Maintaining accurate and up-to-date resource inventories and resource tracking are essential components of incident management.

Resources include personnel, equipment, teams, supplies, and facilities available or potentially available for assignment or allocation.

NIMS Management Characteristic: Integrated Communications

Integrated communications allow units from diverse agencies to connect, share information and achieve situational awareness.

Incident managers facilitate communications through the development and use of:

  • A common communications plan
  • Interoperable communications processes and systems
  • Systems that include both voice and data links

Integrated Communications Planning occurs both before and during an incident to provide equipment, systems, and protocols needed to achieve integrated voice and data communications.

NIMS Management Characteristic: Establishment and Transfer of Command

When an incident is anticipated or occurs the organization with primary responsibility for the incident establishes command by designating the Incident Commander (IC) or Unified Command (UC). Command may need to be transferred to a different IC/UC one or more times over the course of a long duration or increasingly complex incident.

The current command determines the protocol for transferring command. This transfer process should always include a briefing for the incoming IC/UC on all essential information for continuing safe and effective operations. The transfer of command should also be communicated to all incident personnel.

NIMS Management Characteristic: Unified Command

In some incidents the Incident Command function is performed by a Unified Command (UC).

UC is typically used for incidents involving:

  • Multiple jurisdictions
  • A single jurisdiction with multiagency involvement
  • Multiple jurisdictions with multiagency involvement

UC allows agencies with different authorities and responsibilities to work together effectively without affecting individual agency authority, responsibility, or accountability.

NIMS Management Characteristic: Chain of Command and Unity of Command

Chain of command refers to the orderly command hierarchy within an incident management organization.

Unity of command means that each individual reports to only one designated supervisor.

These principles:

  • Clarify reporting relationships
  • Eliminate confusion caused by conflicting instructions
  • Enable incident managers at all levels to direct the actions of all personnel under their supervision
NIMS Management Characteristic: Accountability

Accountability for all resources during an incident is essential.

Incident management personnel should adhere to principles of accountability, including:

  • Check-in/checkout
  • Incident action planning
  • Unity of command
  • Personal responsibility
  • Span of control
  • Resource tracking
NIMS Management Characteristic: Dispatch/Deployment

Resources should deploy only when requested and dispatched through established procedures by appropriate authorities.

Resources that authorities do not request should not deploy spontaneously - unrequested resources can overburden the IC/UC and increase accountability challenges.

NIMS Management Characteristic: Information and Intelligence Management

Incident-related information and intelligence is managed by the incident management organization through established processes for:

  • Gathering
  • Analyzing
  • Assessing
  • Sharing
  • Managing

Information and intelligence management includes identifying essential elements of information (EEI). EEI ensures incident personnel gather the most accurate and appropriate data, translate it into useful information, and communicate it with appropriate personnel.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult the following resources:

Lesson Summary
You have completed the Course Overview lesson. The next lesson will describe how ICS is incorporated within the overall emergency management program.
Checkmark next to Course Overview, bullet next to Incident Command and Unified Command, bullet next to Delegation of Authority and Management by Objectives, bullet next to Functional Areas and Positions, bullet next to Incident Briefings and Meetings, bullet next to Organizational Flexibility, bullet next to Transfer of Command, bullet next to Application Activity, bullet next to Course Summary.
Lesson 2 Overview

At the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Describe chain of command and formal communication relationships.
  • Identify common leadership responsibilities and values.
  • Describe span of control and modular development.
  • Describe the use of position titles. 

While examining Chain of Command and Unity of Command, we will also discuss additional information related to leadership in incident management.

We'll begin by reviewing chain of command.

Checkmark next to Course Overview, arrow next to Incident Command and Unified Command, bullet next to Delegation of Authority and Management by Objectives, bullet next to Functional Areas and Positions, bullet next to Incident Briefings and Meetings, bullet next to Organizational Flexibility, bullet next to Transfer of Command, bullet next to Application Activity, bullet next to Course Summary.
Chain of Command
The organizational chart shows the orderly line of authority flowing from the Incident Commander through the Operations Section to the Operations Section and Planning Section beneath it.
An orderly line of authority is used for the flow of task assignments and resource requests. This line of authority flows down through the organizational structure.
Unity of Command

Unity of command means that each individual involved in incident operations will be assigned – and will report – to only one supervisor.

Chain of command and unity of command help to ensure that clear reporting relationships exist and eliminate the confusion caused by multiple, conflicting directives. Incident managers at all levels must be able to control the actions of all personnel under their supervision.

Unity of command clears up many of the potential communication problems encountered in managing incidents or events because each individual maintains a formal communication relationship only with his or her immediate supervisor.

Don't confuse unity of command with Unified Command!

Police officers (Mena Police Department) planning talking at an incident scene.
Unified Command

When no one jurisdiction, agency, or organization has primary authority and/or the resources to manage an incident on its own, Unified Command may be established.  There is no one "Commander." The Unified Command can allocate resources regardless of ownership or location.

This illustration shows three responsible agencies managing an incident together under a Unified Command.

As shown in this illustration, responsible agencies manage an incident together under a Unified Command.
Unified Command (Continued)

Unified Command:

  • Enables all responsible agencies to manage an incident together by establishing a common set of incident objectives and strategies
  • Allows Incident Commanders to make joint decisions by establishing a single command structure at one Incident Command Post (ICP)
  • Maintains Unity of Command. Each employee reports to only one supervisor
Graphic showing an Incident Command Post tent and three Incident Commanders.
Advantages of Unified Command

Advantages of using Unified Command include:

  • A single set of objectives guides incident response.
  • A collective approach is used to develop strategies to achieve incident objectives.
  • Information flow and coordination are improved between all involved in the incident.
  • All agencies have an understanding of joint priorities and restrictions.
  • No agency's legal authorities will be compromised or neglected.
  • Agencies' efforts are optimized as they perform their respective assignments under a single Incident Action Plan.
Emergency Personnel including Firemen, Police, Water Rescue, and EMTs
Integrated Communications Overview
Formal communications follow the lines of authority. However, information concerning incident or event can be passed horizontally or vertically within the organization without restriction.
This image displays an organizational chart that shows formal communication traveling from the Incident Commander through the Operations Section to the Branch Director and Aire Operations Branch Director beneath the Operations Section.  It also depicts informal communications between the Operations Section and Planning Section.
Formal Communication

As illustrated on the previous screen, formal communication must be used when:

  • Receiving and giving work assignments
  • Requesting support or additional resources
  • Reporting progress of assigned tasks

Other information concerning the incident or event can be passed horizontally or vertically within the organization without restriction. This is known as informal communication.

Informal Communication

Informal communication:

  • Is used to exchange incident or event information only
  • Is NOT used for:
    • Formal requests for additional resources
    • Tasking work assignments

Within the ICS organization, critical information must flow freely!

Informal Communication (Continued)

Examples of informal communication are as follows:

  • The Communications Unit Leader may directly contact the Resources Unit Leader to determine the number of persons requiring communications devices.
  • The Cost Unit Leader may directly discuss and share information on alternative strategies with the Planning Section Chief.
Common Leadership Responsibilities

A good leader:

  • Communicates by giving specific instructions and asking for feedback.
  • Supervises the scene of action.
  • Evaluates the effectiveness of the plan.
  • Understands and accepts the need to modify plans or instructions.
  • Ensures safe work practices.
  • Takes command of assigned resources.
  • Motivates with a "can do safely" attitude.
  • Demonstrates initiative by taking action.

The safety of all personnel involved in an incident or a planned event is the first duty of ICS leadership. This is the overall responsibility of Team Leaders, Group or Division Supervisors, Branch Directors, Sections Chiefs, and all members of the Command or Unified Command staff. Ensuring safe work practices is the top priority within the ICS common leadership responsibilities.

Leadership & Values
A leader commits to excellence in all aspects of his or her professional responsibility. Leaders should know, understand, and practice the leadership responsibilities and recognize the relationship between these responsibilities and the leadership values. Commitment to duty, respect, and integrity are essential values that must be demonstrated in order for a leader to be effective.
Commitment to Duty

What can you do, personally, that demonstrates your commitment to duty to those you lead? As a leader, you should try to:

  • Take charge within your scope of authority.
  • Be prepared to step out of a tactical role to assume a leadership role.
  • Be proficient in your job.
  • Make sound and timely decisions.
  • Ensure tasks are understood.
  • Develop your subordinates for the future.
Leadership & Respect

In order to maintain leadership and respect, a leader should:

  • Know their subordinates and look out for their well-being. A leader’s workforce is their greatest resource. Not all workers will succeed equally, but they all deserve respect.
  • Keep their subordinates and supervisor informed by providing accurate and timely briefings and giving the intent behind assignments and tasks.
  • Build the team. Conducting frequent briefings and debriefings with the team enables a leader to monitor progress and identify lessons learned. Considerations made during these meetings should include team experience, fatigue, and physical limitations when accepting assignments.
Communication Responsibilities

To ensure sharing of critical information, all responders must:

  • Brief others as needed
  • Debrief their actions
  • Communicate hazards to others
  • Acknowledge messages
  • Ask if they do not know

While not always possible, the most effective form of communication is face-to-face.

Briefing Elements

Provide complete briefings that include clearly stated objectives and the following elements:

Briefing Elements: Task- what is to be done, Purpose - Why it is to be done, End State - How it should look when done
Incident Management Assessment

Assessment is an important leadership responsibility and is conducted after a major activity in order to allow employees and leaders to discover what happened and why. Assessment methods include:

  • Corrective action report/After-Action Review (AAR)
  • Debriefing
  • Post-incident critique
  • Mitigation plans
Using Common Terminology

ICS establishes common terminology that allows diverse incident management and support entities to work together.

Major functions and functional units with incident management responsibilities are named and defined. Terminology for the organizational elements involved is standard and consistent.

ICS Organization: Review

The ICS organization:

  • Is typically structured to facilitate activities in five major functional areas: Command, Operations, Planning, Logistics, and Finance/Administration
  • Is adaptable to any emergency or incident to which domestic incident management agencies would be expected to respond
  • Has a scalable organizational structure that is based on the size and complexity of the incident

However, this flexibility does NOT allow for the modification of the standard, common language used to refer to organizational components or positions.

ICS Organization: Review (Continued)

The next series of screens will assess how much of this terminology you remember from the ICS 100 course.

ICS Organizational chart showing Incident Commander, Public Information Officer, Liaison Officer, Safety Officer, Operations Section, Staging Area, Branches, Divisions, Groups, Strike Team/Resource Team, Task Force, Single Resource, Air Ops Branch. Planning Section, Resources Unit, Demob Unit, Situation Unit, Doc Unit. Logistics Section, Service Branch, Comm Unit, Medical Unit, Food Unit, Support Branch, Supply Unit, Facilities Unit, Ground Support Unit. Finance/Administration Section, Time Unit, Procurement Unit, Compensation Claims Unit, Cost Unit.
  • Incident Commander (IC): The individual responsible for all incident activities, including the development of strategies and tactics and the ordering and the release of resources. The IC has overall authority and responsibility for conducting incident operations and is responsible for the management of all incident operations at the incident site.
  • Command Staff: The Command Staff consists of:
    • Liaison Officer: A member of the Command Staff responsible for coordinating with representatives from cooperating and assisting agencies. The Liaison Officer may have Assistants.
    • Public Information Officer: A member of the Command Staff responsible for interfacing with the public and media or with other agencies with incident-related information requirements.
    • Safety Officer: A member of the Command Staff responsible for monitoring and assessing safety hazards or unsafe situations, and for developing measures for ensuring personnel safety. The Safety Officer may have Assistants.
  • General Staff: The organization level having functional responsibility for primary segments of incident management (Operations, Planning, Logistics, Finance/Administration). The Section level is organizationally between Branch and Incident Commander. Sections are as follows:
    • Operations Section: The Operations Section responsible for all tactical operations at the incident. The Operations Section includes:
      • Branch: That organizational level having functional, geographical, or jurisdictional responsibility for major parts of the incident operations. The Branch level is organizationally between Section and Division/Group in the Operations Section, and between Section and Units in the Logistics Section. Branches are identified by the use of Roman numerals, by function, or by jurisdictional name.
      • Division: That organization level having responsibility for operations within a defined geographic area. The Division level is organizationally between the Strike Team and the Branch.
      • Group: Groups are established to divide the incident into functional areas of operation. Groups are located between Branches (when activated) and Resources in the Operations Section.
      • Unit: That organization element having functional responsibility for a specific incident planning, logistics, or finance activity.
      • Task Force: A group of resources with common communications and a leader that may be preestablished and sent to an incident, or formed at an incident.
      • Strike Team/Resource Team: Specified combinations of the same kind and type of resources, with common communications and a leader.
      • Single Resource: An individual, a piece of equipment and its personnel complement, or an established crew or team of individuals with an identified work supervisor, that can be used on an incident.
    • Planning Section: Responsible for the collection, evaluation, and dissemination of information related to the incident, and for the preparation and documentation of the Incident Action Plan. The Planning Section also maintains information on the current and forecasted situation, and on the status of resources assigned to the incident. This Section includes the Situation, Resources, Documentation, and Demobilization Units, as well as Technical Specialists.
    • Logistics Section: The Section responsible for providing facilities, services, and materials for the incident. Includes the Service Branch (Communications Unit, Medical Unit, and Food Unit) and Support Branch (Supply Unit, Facilities Unit, and Ground Support Unit).
    • Finance/Administration Section: The Section responsible for all incident costs and financial considerations. The Finance/Administration Section includes the Time Unit, Procurement Unit, Compensation/Claims Unit, and Cost Unit.
    • Intelligence/Investigations (I/I) Function: Some incidents involve intensive intelligence gathering and investigative activity, and for such incidents, the Incident Commander or Unified Command may reconfigure intelligence and investigations responsibilities to meet the needs of the incident.  The purpose of the Intelligence/Investigations function is to ensure that intelligence and investigative operations and activities are properly managed and coordinated.
NIMS Management: Manageable Span of Control
The optimal span of control for incident management is one supervisor to five subordinates; however, effective incident management frequently necessitates ratios significantly different from this. The 1:5 ratio is a guideline, and incident personnel use their best judgment to determine the actual distribution of subordinates to supervisors for a given incident or EOC activation.
Image shows 2 pyramids - first pyramid shows 3 people at the bottom of the pyramid with arrows pointing to 1 person at the top. The other pyramid shows 7 people at the bottom of the pyramid with arrows pointing to one person at the top.  ICS span of control for any supervisor is between 3 and 7 subordinates, and optimally does not exceed 5 subordinates.
Modular Organization

The ICS organization adheres to a "form follows function" philosophy. The size of the current organization and that of the next operational period is determined through the incident planning process.

Because the ICS is a modular concept, managing span of control is accomplished by organizing resources into Teams, Divisions, Groups, Branches, or Sections. When the supervisor-to-subordinate ratio exceeds manageable span of control, additional Teams, Divisions, Groups, Branches, or Sections can be established. When a supervisor is managing too few subordinates, Sections, Branches, Divisions, Groups, or Teams can be reorganized or demobilized to reach a more effective span of control.

Typical Organizational Structure

The initial response to most domestic incidents is typically handled by local "911" dispatch centers, emergency responders within a single jurisdiction, and direct supporters of emergency responders. Most responses need go no further.

Approximately 95% of all incidents are small responses that include:

  • Command: Incident Commander and other Command Staff
  • Single Resource: An individual, a piece of equipment and its personnel complement, or an established crew or team of individuals with an identified work supervisor that can be used on an incident
Expanding Incidents

Incidents that begin with single resources may rapidly expand requiring significant additional resources and operational support.

 

Diagram/photos showing incident expanding to Branches, Divisions, Groups, Strike Team/Resource Team Task Force, and Single Resource.
Use of Position Titles

At each level within the ICS organization, individuals with primary responsibility positions have distinct titles. Using specific ICS position titles serves these important purposes:

  • Provides a common standard
  • Ensures qualified individuals fill positions
  • Ensures that requested personnel are qualified
  • Standardizes communication
  • Describes the responsibilities of the position
ICS Supervisory Position Titles

Titles for all ICS supervisory levels are shown in the table below:

 

Organizational Level

Title

Support Position

Incident CommandIncident CommanderDeputy
Command StaffOfficerAssistant
General Staff (Section)ChiefDeputy
BranchDirector Deputy
Division/GroupSupervisor N/A
UnitUnit Leader Manager
Strike Team/Task ForceLeader Single Resource Boss
Lesson Completion

You have completed the Incident Command and Unified Command lesson. You should now be able to:

  • Describe chain of command and formal communication relationships.
  • Identify common leadership responsibilities and values.
  • Describe span of control and modular development.
  • Describe the use of position titles. 

The next lesson will discuss delegation of authority and management by objectives.

Checkmark next to Course Overview, checkmark next to Incident Command and Unified Command, bullet next to Delegation of Authority and Management by Objectives, bullet next to Functional Areas and Positions, bullet next to Incident Briefings and Meetings, bullet next to Organizational Flexibility, bullet next to Transfer of Command, bullet next to Application Activity, bullet next to Course Summary.
Lesson 3 Overview

The Delegation of Authority & Management by Objectives lesson introduces you to the delegation of authority process, implementing authorities, management by objectives, and preparedness plans and agreements.

Lesson Objectives

At the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Describe the delegation of authority process.
  • Describe scope of authority.
  • Describe management by objectives.
  • Describe the importance of preparedness plans and agreements.
Checkmark next to Course Overview, checkmark next to Incident Command and Unified Command, arrow next to Delegation of Authority and Management by Objectives, bullet next to Functional Areas and Positions, bullet next to Incident Briefings and Meetings, bullet next to Organizational Flexibility, bullet next to Transfer of Command, bullet next to Application Activity, bullet next to Course Summary.
Delegation of Authority Process

Authority is a right or obligation to act on behalf of a department, agency, or jurisdiction.

  • In most jurisdictions, the responsibility for the protection of the citizens rests with the chief elected official. Elected officials have the authority to make decisions, commit resources, obligate funds, and command the resources necessary to protect the population, stop the spread of damage, and protect the environment.
  • The Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) is the entity that creates and administers processes to qualify, certify, and credential personnel for incident-related positions. AHJs include state, tribal, or Federal government departments and agencies, training commissions, NGOs, or companies, as well as local organizations such as police, fire, public health, or public works departments.
  • In private industry, this same responsibility and authority rests with the chief executive officer.
Scope of Authority

An Incident Commander's scope of authority is derived:

  • From existing laws, agency policies, and procedures, and/or
  • Through a delegation of authority from the agency administrator or elected official.
Delegation of Authority

The process of granting authority to carry out specific functions is called the delegation of authority. Delegation of authority:

  • Grants authority to carry out specific functions
  • Is issued by the chief elected official, chief executive officer, or agency administrator in writing or verbally
  • Allows the Incident Commander to assume command
  • Does NOT relieve the granting authority of the ultimate responsibility for the incident

Ideally, this authority will be granted in writing. Whether it is granted in writing or verbally, the authorities granted remain with the Incident Commander until such time as the incident is terminated, or a relief shift Incident Commander is appointed, or the Incident Commander is relieved of their duties for just cause.

Delegation of Authority: When Not Needed

A delegation of authority may not be required if the Incident Commander is acting within his or her existing authorities.

An emergency manager may already have the authority to deploy response resources to a small flash flood.

A fire chief probably has the authority (as part of the job description) to serve as an Incident Commander at a structure fire.

Delegation of Authority: When Needed

A delegation of authority is needed:

  • If the incident is outside the Incident Commander's jurisdiction
  • When the incident scope is complex or beyond existing authorities
  • If required by law or procedures
Delegation of Authority: Elements

When issued, delegation of authority should include:

  • Legal authorities and restrictions
  • Financial authorities and restrictions
  • Reporting requirements
  • Demographic issues
  • Political implications
  • Agency or jurisdictional priorities
  • Plan for public information management
  • Process for communications
  • Plan for ongoing incident evaluation

The delegation should also specify which incident conditions will be achieved prior to a transfer of command or release.

Sample Delegation of Authority

_______________________ is assigned as Incident Commander on the __________________ incident.

You have full authority and responsibility for managing the incident activities within the framework of agency policy and direction. Your primary responsibility is to organize and direct your assigned and ordered resources for efficient and effective control of the incident.

You are accountable to _____________________________ or his/her designated representative listed below.

Financial limitations will be consistent with the best approach to the values at risk. Specific direction for this incident covering management and other concerns are:

 

 

 

 

 ________________________________ will represent me on any occasion that I am not immediately available. This authority is effective: _________.

 

____________________________________

Agency Administrator

____________________________________

Incident Commander

________________________

Date and Time

Implementing Authorities
Within his or her scope of authority, the Incident Commander establishes incident objectives, then determines strategies, resources, and ICS structure based on the incident objectives. The Incident Commander must also have the authority to establish an ICS structure adequate to protect the safety of responders and citizens, to control the spread of damage, and to protect the environment.
Diagram with box labeled Incident Commander, arrow pointing to document labeled Incident Objectives.  Three arrows pointing from Incident Objectives to Strategies, Resources, and ICS Structure.
Management by Objectives

ICS is managed by objectives. Objectives are communicated throughout the entire ICS organization through the Incident Action Planning Process.

Management by objectives includes:

  • Establishing overarching objectives.
  • Developing and issuing assignments, plans, procedures, and protocols.
  • Establishing specific, measurable objectives for various incident management functional activities.
  • Directing efforts to attain them, in support of defined strategic objectives.
  • Documenting results to measure performance and facilitate corrective action.
Establishing and Implementing Objectives

The steps for establishing and implementing incident objectives include:

  • Step 1: Understand agency policy and direction.
  • Step 2: Assess incident situation.
  • Step 3: Establish incident objectives.
  • Step 4: Select appropriate strategy or strategies to achieve objectives.
  • Step 5: Perform tactical direction.
  • Step 6: Provide necessary follow-up.
Initial Response: Conduct a Size-Up

In an initial incident, a size-up is done to set the immediate incident objectives. The first responder to arrive must assume command and size-up the situation by determining:

  • Nature and magnitude of the incident
  • Hazards and safety concerns
    • Hazards facing response personnel and the public
    • Evacuation and warnings
    • Injuries and casualties
    • Need to secure and isolate the area
  • Initial priorities and immediate resource requirements
  • Location of Incident Command Post and Staging Area
  • Entrance and exit routes for responders
Overall Priorities

Throughout the incident, objectives are established based on the following priorities:

  • First Priority: Life Safety
  • Second Priority: Incident Stabilization
  • Third Priority: Property Preservation

Overall priorities for an incident define what is most important. These are not a set of steps, you do not complete all life safety actions before you start any efforts to stabilize the incident. Often these priorities will be performed simultaneously.

Effective Incident Objectives

For full effectiveness, incident objectives must be:

  • Specific and state what's to be accomplished
  • Measurable and include a standard and timeframe
  • Attainable and reasonable
  • In accordance with the Incident Commander's authorities
  • Evaluated to determine effectiveness of strategies and tactics

EXAMPLE: Establish a controlled perimeter around the incident within 45 minutes (by 6 p.m.)

Objectives, Strategies, and Tactics

Incident objectives, strategies, and tactics are three fundamental pieces of a successful incident response.

  • Incident objectives state what will be accomplished.
  • Strategies establish the general plan or direction for accomplishing the incident objectives.
  • Tactics specify how the strategies will be executed.

For example:

  • Objective: Stop the spread of hazardous materials from a tractor-trailer accident into the river by 1800 today.
  • Strategy: Employ barriers.
  • Tactic: Use absorbent damming materials to construct a barrier between the downhill side of the accident scene and Murkey Creek.

The Incident Commander is responsible for establishing goals and selecting strategies. The Operations Section, if it is established, is responsible for determining appropriate tactics for an incident.

Elements of an Incident Action Plan

An Incident Action Plan (IAP) covers an operational period and includes:

  • What must be done
  • Who is responsible
  • How information will be communicated
  • What should be done if someone is injured

The operational period is the period of time scheduled for execution of a given set of tactical actions as specified in the IAP.

Operational Period Planning Cycle (Planning P)
The Incident Action Plan is completed each operational period utilizing the progression of meetings and briefings in the Operational Period Planning Cycle (Planning P). The Planning P is a graphical representation of the sequence and relationship of the meetings, work periods, and briefings that comprise the Operational Period Planning Cycle.
Operational Period Planning Cycle in the shape of a capital P. Shown in order on the image:Initial Response and Assessment, Agency Administrator Briefing, Incident Briefing, Initial Unified Command Meeting, Objectives Development/Update, Strategy Meeting/Command and General Staff Meeting, Preparing for the Tactics Meeting, Tactics Meeting, Preparing for the Planning Meeting, Planning Meeting, IAP Preparation and Approval, Operational Period Briefing.
Preparedness Plans and Agreements

The Incident Commander, as well as the Command and General Staffs, should have a working knowledge of jurisdictional and agency preparedness plans and agreements.

Preparedness plans may take many forms. The most common preparedness plans are:

  • Federal, State, or local Emergency Operations Plans (EOPs)
  • Standard operating guidelines (SOGs) - a standard indication or outline of policy
  • Standard operating procedures (SOPs) - a set of step-by-step instructions compiled by an organization to help workers carry out complex operations
  • Jurisdictional or agency policies
Emergency Operations Plan (EOP)

EOPs are developed at the Federal, State, and local levels to provide a uniform response to all hazards that a community may face.

EOPs should be consistent with the National Incident Management System (NIMS).

Click on this link to access the NIMS Resource Center. 

Click on this link to access the Comprehensive Preparedness Guide (CPG) 101: A Guide for All-Hazard Emergency Operations Planning.

Mutual Aid Agreements and Compacts

NIMS states that:

  • Mutual aid agreements establish the legal basis for two or more entities to share resources. Mutual aid agreements may authorize mutual aid between two or more neighboring communities, among all jurisdictions within a state, between states, between Federal agencies, and/or internationally.
  • Jurisdictions should be party to agreements with the appropriate jurisdictions and/or organizations from which they expect to receive, or to which they expect to provide, assistance.

Click this link to review the Resource Management and Mutual Aid page within the NIMS Resource Center.

Mutual Aid Agreements and Compacts (Continued)

Mutual aid is the voluntary provision of resources by agencies or organizations to assist each other when existing resources are inadequate.

NIMS resource management describes how mutual aid allows jurisdictions to share resources among mutual aid partners.

Mutual Aid Agreement Topics

Mutual aid agreements might include some of the following topics:

  • Reimbursement: Mutual aid services are either paid or unpaid (e.g., based on providing reciprocal services). Some mutual aid agreements specify reimbursement parameters.
  • Recognition of Licensure and Certification: Guidelines to ensure recognition of licensures across geopolitical boundaries.
  • Procedures for Mobilization (Request, Dispatch, and Response): Specific procedures for parties to request and dispatch resources through mutual aid.
  • Protocols for Voice and Data Interoperability: Protocols that specify how different communications and IT systems share information.
  • Protocols for Resource Management: Standard templates for packaging resources based on NIMS resource typing definitions and/or local inventory systems.

 

Mutual Aid and Assistance: All Levels

Mutual aid agreements and assistance agreements are used at all levels of government:

  • Local jurisdictions participate in mutual aid through agreements with neighboring jurisdictions.
  • States can participate in mutual aid through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC).
  • Federal agencies offer mutual aid to each other and to States, tribes, and territories under the National Response Framework (NRF).
Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC)
EMAC is a congressionally ratified mutual aid compact that defines a non-Federal, state-to-state system for sharing resources across state lines during an emergency or disaster. Signatories include all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. EMAC’s unique relationships with states, regions, territories, and Federal organizations, such as FEMA and the National Guard Bureau, enable it to move a wide variety of resources to meet the jurisdictions’ needs.
Information Derived from Plans

Plans may include information about:

  • Hazards and risks in the area
  • Resources in the area
  • Other formal agreements and plans
  • Contact information for agency administrators and response personnel
  • Other pertinent information
Lesson Completion

You have completed the Delegation of Authority & Management by Objectives lesson. You should now be able to describe:

  • The delegation of authority process.
  • Scope of authority.
  • Management by objectives.
  • The importance of preparedness plans and agreements.

The next lesson will discuss functional areas and positions.

Checkmark next to Course Overview, checkmark next to Incident Command and Unified Command, checkmark next to Delegation of Authority and Management by Objectives, bullet next to Functional Areas and Positions, bullet next to Incident Briefings and Meetings, bullet next to Organizational Flexibility, bullet next to Transfer of Command, bullet next to Application Activity, bullet next to Course Summary.
Lesson 4 Overview

The Functional Areas and Positions lesson introduces you to ICS organizational components, the Command Staff, the General Staff, and ICS tools.

Lesson Objectives

At the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Describe the functions of organizational positions within the Incident Command System (ICS).
  • Identify the ICS tools needed to manage an incident.
  • Demonstrate the use of an ICS Form 201.

This lesson provides more in-depth information on ICS organizational elements.

Checkmark next to Course Overview, checkmark next to Incident Command and Unified Command, checkmark next to Delegation of Authority and Management by Objectives, arrow next to Functional Areas and Positions, bullet next to Incident Briefings and Meetings, bullet next to Organizational Flexibility, bullet next to Transfer of Command, bullet next to Application Activity, bullet next to Course Summary.
Incident Commander

The Incident Commander:

  • Has overall incident management responsibility delegated by the appropriate jurisdictional authority
  • Develops the incident objectives to guide the Incident Action Planning Process
  • Approves the Incident Action Plan and all requests pertaining to the ordering and releasing of incident resources

In some situations or agencies, a lower ranking but more qualified person may be designated as the Incident Commander. Whatever their day-to-day position, when a person is designated as the Incident Commander they are delegated the authority to command the incident response.

Incident Commander (Continued)
The Incident Commander performs all major ICS functions unless he or she activates Command or General Staff positions to manage these functions. For example, the Incident Commander would personally perform the Operations function until an Operations Section was activated.
Incident Command. Command Staff, Public Information Officer, Safety Officer, Liaison Officer. General Staff, Operations Section Chief, Planning Section Chief, Logistics Section Chief, Finance/Administration Section Chief.
Deputy Incident Commander

The Incident Commander may have one or more Deputies. Deputies may be assigned at the Incident Command, Section, or Branch levels. The only ICS requirement regarding the use of a Deputy is that the Deputy must be fully qualified and equally capable to assume the position.

The three primary reasons to designate a Deputy Incident Commander are to:

  • Perform specific tasks as requested by the Incident Commander.
  • Perform the incident command function in a relief capacity (e.g., to take over for the next operational period). In this case, the Deputy will assume the primary role.
  • Represent an Assisting Agency that may share jurisdiction or have jurisdiction in the future.
Command Staff

The Command Staff is only activated in response to the needs of the incident. If a Command Staff position is not needed it will not be activated. For example, an incident may not require a Liaison Officer if there are not outside agencies or organizations to coordinate with.

Command Staff includes the following positions:

  • Public Information Officer
  • Liaison Officer
  • Safety Officer

Click this link to review a detailed description of the Command Staff functions.

Command Staff Functions
The Incident Commander or Unified Command assigns Command Staff as needed to support the command function. The Command Staff typically includes a Public Information Officer (PIO), a Safety Officer, and a Liaison Officer who report directly to the Incident Commander or Unified Command and have assistants as necessary. The Incident Commander or Unified Command may appoint additional advisors as needed.
Command Staff Responsibilities
Public Information Officer (PIO) The PIO interfaces with the public, media, and/or with other agencies with incident-related information needs. The PIO gathers, verifies, coordinates, and disseminates accessible,15 meaningful, and timely information on the incident for both internal and external audiences. The PIO also monitors the media and other sources of public information to collect relevant information and transmits this information to the appropriate components of the incident management organization. In incidents that involve PIOs from different agencies, the Incident Commander or Unified Command designates one as the lead PIO. All PIOs should work in a unified manner, speaking with one voice, and ensure that all messaging is consistent. The Incident Commander or Unified Command approves the release of incident-related information. In large-scale incidents, the PIO participates in or leads the Joint Information Center (JIC).
Safety OfficerThe Safety Officer monitors incident operations and advises the Incident Commander or Unified Command on matters relating to the health and safety of incident personnel. Ultimate responsibility for the safe conduct of incident management rests with the Incident Commander or Unified Command and supervisors at all levels. The Safety Officer is responsible to the Incident Commander or Unified Command for establishing the systems and procedures necessary to assess, communicate, and mitigate hazardous environments. This includes developing and maintaining the incident Safety Plan, coordinating multiagency safety efforts, and implementing measures to promote the safety of incident personnel and incident sites. The Safety Officer stops and/or prevents unsafe acts during the incident. Agencies, organizations, or jurisdictions that contribute to joint safety management efforts do not lose their individual responsibilities or authorities for their own programs, policies, and personnel. Rather, each contributes to the overall effort to protect all personnel involved in the incident.
Liaison Officer The Liaison Officer is the incident command’s point of contact for representatives of governmental agencies, jurisdictions, NGOs, and private sector organizations that are not included in the Unified Command. Through the Liaison Officer, these representatives provide input on their agency, organization, or jurisdiction’s policies, resource availability, and other incident-related matters. Under either a single Incident Commander or a Unified Command structure, representatives from assisting or cooperating jurisdictions and organizations coordinate through the Liaison Officer. The Liaison Officer may have assistants.
Source: National Incident Management System (NIMS)
Assistants

In a large or complex incident, Command Staff members may need one or more Assistants to help manage their workloads. Each Command Staff member is responsible for organizing his or her Assistants for maximum efficiency. Assistants are subordinates of principal Command Staff positions.

As the title indicates, Assistants should have a level of technical capability, qualifications, and responsibility subordinate to the primary positions.

Assistants may also be assigned to Unit Leaders (e.g., at camps to supervise unit activities).

Assisting Agency

An agency or jurisdiction will often send resources to assist at an incident. In ICS these are called assisting agencies.

An assisting agency is defined as an agency or organization providing personnel, services, or other resources to the agency with direct responsibility for incident management.

Cooperating Agency

A cooperating agency is an agency supplying assistance other than direct operational or support functions or resources to the incident management effort.

Don't get confused between an assisting agency and a cooperating agency! An assisting agency has direct responsibility for incident response, whereas a cooperating agency is simply offering assistance.

Agency Representative
An Agency Representative is an individual assigned to an incident from an assisting or cooperating agency. The Agency Representative is delegated authority to make decisions on matters affecting that agency's participation at the incident.
Expanding Incidents

An incident may start small and then expand. As the incident grows in scope and the number of resources needed increases, there may be a need to activate Teams, Units, Divisions, Groups, Branches, or Sections to maintain an appropriate span of control. The optimal span of control for incident management is one supervisor to five subordinates; however, effective incident management may require ratios different from this. The 1:5 ratio is just a guideline.

The ability to delegate the supervision of resources not only frees up the Incident Commander to perform critical decision-making and evaluation duties, but also clearly defines the lines of communication to everyone involved in the incident.

Next, we'll review the major organizational elements that may be activated during an expanding incident.

Operations Section

The Operations Section:

  • Directs and coordinates all incident tactical operations
  • Is typically one of the first organizations to be assigned to the incident
  • Expands from the bottom up
  • Has the most incident resources
  • May have Staging Areas and special organizations
Operations Section Chief

The Operations Section Chief:

  • Is responsible to the Incident Commander for the direct management of all incident-related operational activities
  • Establishes tactical objectives for each operational period
  • Has direct involvement in the preparation of the Incident Action Plan

The Operations Section Chief may have one or more Deputies assigned. The assignment of Deputies from other agencies may be advantageous in the case of multijurisdictional incidents.

Operations Section: Staging Areas

Staging Areas are set up at the incident where resources can wait for a tactical assignment.

All resources in the Staging Area are assigned and ready for deployment. Out-of-service resources are NOT located at the Staging Area.

After a Staging Area has been designated and named, a Staging Area Manager will be assigned. The Staging Area Manager will report to the Operations Section Chief or to the Incident Commander if the Operations Section Chief has not been designated.

Staging Areas: Chain of Command

The graphic below shows where the Staging Area Manager fits into the Operations Section.

 

Organization chart showing that the Staging Area fits into the Operations Section, with the Staging Area Manager reporting directly to the Operations Section Chief. Groups are Health Group, Search Group, and Investigation Group. Search Group teams are Canine Strike Team and Searchers.
Divisions and Groups

Divisions are established to divide an incident into physical or geographical areas of operation.

Groups are established to divide the incident into functional areas of operation.

For example, a Damage Assessment Task Force, reporting to the Infrastructure Group Supervisor, could work across divisions established to manage two distinct areas of the building that have been damaged — the west side of the building (West Division) and the north side (North Division).

Organizational chart showing the Operations Section organized into a division and two groups.  Division A covers the East Side.  There are two groups:  Perimeter Control and Investigation.  Within the Investigation Group are two resources:  An Accident Reconstruction Specialist, and Detective 1, who is taking witness statements.
Branches

Branches may be used to serve several purposes and may be functional or geographic in nature. Branches are established when the number of divisions or groups exceeds an effective span of control for the Operations Section Chief.

 

Organizational chart showing the Operations Section split into three branches: Emergency Services, Law Enforcement, and Public Works.  Within the Emergency Services Branch are the Health and Medical Group and Shelter and Mass Care Group.  Within the Law Enforcment Branch are the Perimeter Control Group and Investigation Group.  Within the Public Works Branch are the Debris Removal Group and Utility Repair Group.
Air Operations Branch

Some incidents may require the use of aviation resources to provide tactical or logistical support. On smaller incidents, aviation resources will be limited in number and will report directly to the Incident Commander or to the Operations Section Chief.

On larger incidents, it may be desirable to activate a separate Air Operations Branch to coordinate the use of aviation resources. The Air Operations Branch will then report directly to the Operations Section Chief.

The Air Operations Branch Director can establish two functional groups. The Air Tactical Group coordinates all airborne activity. The Air Support Group provides all incident ground-based support to aviation resources.

Planning Section

The Planning Section has responsibility for:

  • Maintaining resource status
  • Maintaining and displaying situation status
  • Preparing the Incident Action Plan (IAP)
  • Developing alternative strategies
  • Providing documentation services
  • Preparing the Demobilization Plan
  • Providing a primary location for Technical Specialists assigned to an incident

One of the most important functions of the Planning Section is to look beyond the current and next operational period and anticipate potential problems or events.

Planning Section Key Personnel

The Planning Section will have a Planning Section Chief. The Planning Section Chief may have a Deputy.

Technical Specialists:

  • Are advisors with special skills required at the incident
  • Will initially report to the Planning Section, work within that Section, or be reassigned to another part of the organization
  • Can be in any discipline required (e.g., epidemiology, infection control, chemical-biological-nuclear agents, etc.)
Planning Section Units

The major responsibilities of Planning Units are:

  • Resources Unit: Responsible for all check-in activity and for maintaining the status on all personnel and equipment resources assigned to the incident.
  • Situation Unit: Collects and processes information on the current situation, prepares situation displays and situation summaries, and develops maps and projections.
  • Demobilization Unit: On large, complex incidents, assists in ensuring that an orderly, safe, and cost-effective movement of personnel is made when they are no longer required at the incident.
  • Documentation Unit: Prepares the Incident Action Plan, maintains all incident-related documentation, and provides duplication services.
Graphic of an organizational chart showing the four units of the Planning Section, which include: Resources, Demobilization, Situation, and Documentation.
Logistics Section

Early recognition of the need for a Logistics Section can reduce time and money spent on an incident. The Logistics Section is responsible for all support requirements, including:

  • Communications
  • Medical support to incident personnel
  • Food for incident personnel
  • Supplies, facilities, and ground support

It is important to remember that Logistics Section functions, except for the Supply Unit, are geared to supporting personnel and resources directly assigned to the incident. For example, the Medical Unit provides medical support to the incident response personnel. Medical resources that support the population affected by the incident would be managed under the Operations Section.

Graphic of an organizational chart showing the two branches of the Logistics Section:  Service and Support.  Within the Service Branch are the following units:  Communications, Medical, and Food.  Within the Support Branch are the following units:  Supply, Facilities, and Ground Support.
Logistics Section: Service Branch

The Service Branch may be made up of the following units:

  • The Communications Unit is responsible for developing plans for the effective use of incident communications equipment and facilities, installing and testing of communications equipment, supervision of the Incident Communications Center, distribution of communications equipment to incident personnel, and maintenance and repair of communications equipment.
  • The Medical Unit is responsible for the development of the Medical Plan, obtaining medical aid and transportation for injured and ill incident personnel, and preparation of reports and records.
  • The Food Unit is responsible for supplying the food needs for responder personnel for the entire incident, including all remote locations (e.g., Camps, Staging Areas), as well as providing food for personnel unable to leave tactical field assignments.
Logistics Section: Support Branch

The Support Branch within the Logistics Section may include the following units:

  • The Supply Unit is responsible for ordering personnel, equipment, and supplies; receiving and storing all supplies for the incident; maintaining an inventory of supplies; and servicing nonexpendable supplies and equipment.
  • The Facilities Unit is responsible for setting up, maintaining, and demobilizing all facilities used in support of incident operations. Facilities Unit staff set up the Incident Command Post (ICP), Incident Base, and camps (including trailers or other forms of shelter in and around the incident area), ensure the maintenance of those facilities, and provide law enforcement/security services needed for incident support.
  • The Ground Support Unit is responsible for supporting out-of-service resources; transporting personnel, supplies, food, and equipment; fueling, service, maintenance, and repair of vehicles and other ground support equipment; and implementing the Traffic Plan for the incident.
Finance/Administration Section

The Finance/Administration Section:

  • Is established when incident management activities require finance and other administrative support services.
  • Handles claims related to property damage, injuries, or fatalities at the incident.

Remember that the ICS organizational structure is flexible and scalable to adapt to any situation. Not all incidents will require a separate Finance/Administration Section. If the full Finance/Administration Section is not needed, it would not be activated. When only one specific function is needed (e.g., cost analysis), a Technical Specialist assigned to the Planning Section could provide these services.

Finance/Administration Units

Finance/Administration Units include the following:

  • The Time Unit is responsible for equipment and personnel time recording.
  • The Procurement Unit is responsible for administering all financial matters pertaining to vendor contracts, leases, and fiscal agreements.
  • The Compensation/Claims Unit is responsible for financial concerns resulting from property damage, injuries, or fatalities at the incident.
  • The Cost Unit is responsible for tracking costs, analyzing cost data, making cost estimates, and recommending cost-saving measures.
Graphic of an organizational chart showing the four units of the Finance/Admin Section: Time, Compensation/Claims, Procurement, and Cost
Intelligence/Investigations Function in ICS

Intelligence/Investigations (I/I) is an ICS function identified in NIMS.

NIMS Org Chart with Incident Commander or Unified Command at the top, Command Staff next level, Operations Section, Possible location for Intelligence/Investigations Section, Planning Section, Logistics Section, Finance/Administration Section. Text box pointing to Command Staff, Planning Section, Intelligence/Investigations Function, Operations Section. Box says Possible Locations for The Intelligence/Investigations Function.

When I/I is required for specialized types of responses, the IC/UC can place the I/I function in multiple locations within the incident command structure based on factors such as the nature of the incident, the level of I/I activity, and the relationship of I/I to other incident activities.

The I/I can be placed in the Planning Section, in the Operations Section, within the Command Staff, as a separate General Staff section, or in some combination of these locations.

ICS Tools

Some important tools you should have available at the incident include:

  • Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) from the affected jurisdiction(s)
  • Agency policies and procedures manuals for responding agencies
  • Maps of the affected area
ICS Forms

ICS Forms provide a method of recording and communicating key incident-specific information in a format that is simple, consistent, and supports interoperability. When using each ICS Form, you should ensure that you understand the following about each form:

  • Purpose — What function does the form perform?
  • Preparation — Who is responsible for preparing the form?
  • Distribution — Who needs to receive this information?
ICS Form 201, Incident Briefing

The Incident Briefing Form (ICS Form 201) is an eight-part form that provides an Incident Command/Unified Command with status information that can be used for briefing incoming resources, an incoming Incident Commander or team, or an immediate supervisor. The basic information includes:

  • Incident situation (map, significant events)
  • Incident objectives
  • Summary of current actions
  • Status of resources assigned or ordered for the incident or event
ICS Form 201, Incident Briefing (Continued)

Occasionally, the ICS Form 201 serves as the initial Incident Action Plan (IAP) until a Planning Section has been established and generates, at the direction of the Incident Commander, an IAP.

The ICS Form 201 is also suitable for briefing individuals newly assigned to the Command and General Staffs.

Other Commonly Used ICS Forms

Commonly used Incident Command System forms can be found on FEMA's Emergency Management Institute website for ICS Forms:

  • ICS Form 202, Incident Objectives
  • ICS Form 203, Organization Assignment List
  • ICS Form 204, Assignment List
  • ICS Form 205, Incident Radio Communications Plan
  • ICS Form 206, Medical Plan
  • ICS Form 207, Organizational Chart
  • ICS Form 208, Safety Message
  • ICS Form 209, Incident Status Summary
  • ICS Form 210, Status Change Card
  • ICS Form 211, Check-In List
  • ICS Form 213, General Message
  • ICS Form 214, Unit Log
  • ICS Form 215, Operational Planning Worksheet
  • ICS Form 215a, Incident Action Plan Safety Analysis
  • ICS Form 216, Radio Requirements Worksheet
  • ICS Form 217, Radio Frequency Assignment Worksheet
  • ICS Form 218, Support Vehicle Inventory
  • ICS Form 220, Air Operations Summary
  • ICS Form 221, Demobilization Plan
  • ICS Form 308, Resource Order Form
Lesson Completion

You have completed the Functional Areas and Positions lesson. You should now be able to:

  • Describe the functions of organizational positions within the Incident Command System (ICS).
  • Identify the ICS tools needed to manage an incident.
  • Demonstrate the use of an ICS Form 201.

The next lesson will discuss briefings.

Checkmark next to Course Overview, checkmark next to Incident Command and Unified Command, checkmark next to Delegation of Authority and Management by Objectives, checkmark next to Functional Areas and Positions, bullet next to Incident Briefings and Meetings, bullet next to Organizational Flexibility, bullet next to Transfer of Command, bullet next to Application Activity, bullet next to Course Summary.
Lesson 5 Overview

The Incident Briefings and Meetings lesson introduces you to different types of briefings and meetings.

Lesson Objectives

At the end of this lesson you should be able to:

  • Describe components of field, staff, and section briefings/meetings.
  • Prepare to give an Operational Period Briefing.
Checkmark next to Course Overview, checkmark next to Incident Command and Unified Command, checkmark next to Delegation of Authority and Management by Objectives, checkmark next to Functional Areas and Positions, arrow next to Incident Briefings and Meetings, bullet next to Organizational Flexibility, bullet next to Transfer of Command, bullet next to Application Activity, bullet next to Course Summary.
Incident Action Planning Process
The Incident Action Planning Process defines the progression of meetings and briefings utilized to develop the IAP that is used for the Operational Period Briefing. In addition to these IAP related meetings, there will also be other meetings and briefings within the ICS organization to include section-level meetings and briefings, situation update briefings, and transfer of command briefings.
Operational Period Planning Cycle in the shape of a capital P. Shown in order on the image:Initial Response and Assessment, Agency Administrator Briefing, Incident Briefing, Initial Unified Command Meeting, Objectives Development/Update, Strategy Meeting/Command and General Staff Meeting, Preparing for the Tactics Meeting, Tactics Meeting, Preparing for the Planning Meeting, Planning Meeting, IAP Preparation and Approval, Operational Period Briefing.
Effective Meetings and Briefings

Effective briefings and meetings are:

  • An essential element to good supervision and incident management
  • Intended to pass along vital information required in the completion of incident response actions

Typically, these briefings are concise and do not include long discussions or complex decision-making. Rather, they allow incident managers and supervisors to communicate specific information and expectations for the upcoming work period and to answer questions.

Levels of Briefings

There are three types of briefings/meetings used in ICS: staff level, field level, and section level.

  • Staff-level briefings are delivered to resources assigned to nonoperational and support tasks at the Incident Command Post or Base.
  • Field-level briefings are delivered to individual resources or crews who are assigned to operational tasks and/or work at or near the incident site.
  • Section-level briefings are delivered to an entire Section and include the Operational Period Briefing.

 

Briefing Types

Staff-Level Briefings

This level typically involves resources assigned to nonoperational and support tasks that are commonly performed at the Incident Base or Command Post. These briefings will be delivered to individual staff members or full units within a section. These briefings occur at the beginning of the assignment to the incident and as necessary during the assignment. The supervisor attempts to clarify tasks and scope of the work as well as define reporting schedule, subordinate responsibilities and delegated authority, and the supervisor's expectations. The supervisor will also introduce coworkers and define actual workspace, sources of work supplies, and work schedule.

Field-Level Briefings

This level typically involves resources assigned to operational tasks and/or work at or near the incident site. These briefings will be delivered to individual subordinates, full crews, or multiple crews such as Strike Teams or Task Forces and will occur at the beginning of an operational shift. The location will usually be near the work site or just prior to mobilization to the field. The supervisor attempts to focus the subordinates on their specific tasks and helps define work area, reporting relationships, and expectations.

Section-Level Briefings

This level typically involves the briefing of an entire Section (Operations, Planning, Logistics, or Finance/Administration) and is done by the specific Section Chief. These briefings occur at the beginning of the assignment to the incident and after the arrival of Section supervisory staff. The Section Chief may schedule periodic briefings at specific times (once per day) or when necessary. A unique briefing in this category is the Operational Period Briefing (also called a Shift Operations Briefing). Here, the Operations Section Chief presents the plan for all operational elements for the specific operational period. This specific briefing is done at the beginning of each operation shift and prior to the operational resources being deployed to the area of work. Often, a field-level briefing will take place subsequent to the completion of the Operational Period Briefing.

During any section-level briefing, the supervisor attempts to share incident-wide direction from the Incident Commander (IC), how the direction impacts the Section staff, and specific ways the Section will support the IC's direction. The supervisor will establish Section staffing requirements, Section work tasks, Section-wide scheduling rules, and overall timelines for meetings and completion of work products.

Briefing Topics Checklist

Below is a list of topics that you may want to include in a briefing.

  • Current Situation and Objectives
  • Safety Issues and Emergency Procedures
  • Work Tasks
  • Facilities and Work Areas
  • Communications Protocols
  • Supervisory/Performance Expectations
  • Process for Acquiring Resources, Supplies, and Equipment
  • Work Schedules
  • Questions or Concerns
Operational Period Briefing

The Operational Period Briefing:

  • Is conducted at the beginning of each operational period.
  • Presents the Incident Action Plan for the upcoming period to supervisory personnel within the Operations Section.
  • Should be concise.

In addition to the Operations Section Chief, the other members of the Command and General Staff as well as specific support elements (i.e., Communications Unit, Medical Unit) can provide important information needed for safe and effective performance during the operational period.

Operational Period Briefing: Agenda

The Operational Period Briefing is facilitated by the Planning Section Chief and follows a set agenda. A typical briefing includes the following:

  • The Planning Section Chief reviews the agenda and facilitates the briefing.
  • The Incident Commander or Planning Section Chief presents incident objectives or confirms existing objectives.
  • The Planning Section (Situation Unit Leader) provides information on the current situation.
  • The current Operations Section Chief provides current assessment and accomplishments.
  • The on-coming Operations Section Chief covers the work assignments and staffing of Divisions and Groups for the upcoming operational period.
  • The Logistics Section Chief provides updates on transportation, communications, and supplies.
  • The Finance/Administration Section Chief provides any fiscal updates.
  • The Public Information Officer provides information on public information issues.
  • The Liaison Officer briefs any interagency information.
Operational Period Briefing: Agenda (Continued)
  • Technical Specialists present updates on conditions affecting the response (weather, fire behavior, environmental factors).
  • The Safety Officer reviews specific risks to operational resources and the identified safety/mitigation measures.
  • Supervisors of specialized functions such as Intelligence/Investigations or Air Operations brief on their area (if activated).
  • The Incident Commander reiterates his or her operational concerns and directs resources to deploy.
  • The Planning Section Chief announces the next Planning Meeting and Operational Period Briefing, then adjourns the meeting.
Lesson Completion

You have completed the Briefings lesson. You should now be able to:

  • Describe components of field, staff, and section briefings/meetings.
  • Prepare to give an Operational Period Briefing.

The next lesson will discuss organizational flexibility.

IS-0200 Lesson List: Course Overview (complete), Leadership & Management (complete), Delegation of Authority & Management by Objectives (complete), Functional Areas & Positions, Briefings (complete), Organizational Flexibility (arrow), Transfer of Command, Course Summary
Lesson 6 Overview

The Organizational Flexibility lesson introduces you to flexibility within the standard ICS organizational structure.

Lesson Objectives

At the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Explain how the modular organization expands and contracts.
  • Identify factors to consider when analyzing the complexity of an incident.
  • Define the five types of incidents.
Checkmark next to Course Overview, checkmark next to Incident Command and Unified Command, checkmark next to Delegation of Authority and Management by Objectives, checkmark next to Functional Areas and Positions, checkmark next to Incident Briefings and Meetings, arrow next to Organizational Flexibility, bullet next to Transfer of Command, bullet next to Application Activity, bullet next to Course Summary.
Flexibility and Standardization

A guiding principle of NIMS is flexibility. The ICS organization may be expanded easily from a very small size for routine operations to a larger organization capable of handling catastrophic events.

Standardization within ICS does NOT limit flexibility. ICS works for small, routine operations as well as catastrophic events.

Flexibility does NOT mean that the NIMS Management Characteristic Common Terminology is superseded. Flexibility is exercised only within the standard ICS organizational structure and position titles. Flexibility does not mean using non-standard organizational structures or position titles that would interfere with the NIMS Management Characteristics Common Terminology and Modular Organization.

Modular Organization

Incident command organizational structure is based on:

  • Size and complexity of the incident
  • Specifics of the hazard environment created by the incident
  • Incident planning process and incident objectives
ICS Expansion and Contraction

Although there are no hard-and-fast rules, it is important to remember that:

  • Only functions and positions that are necessary to achieve incident objectives are filled.
  • Each activated element must have a person in charge.
  • An effective span of control must be maintained.
Activation of Organizational Elements

Many incidents will never require the activation of the entire Command or General Staff or entire list of organizational elements within each Section. Other incidents will require some or all members of the Command Staff and all sub-elements of each General Staff section.

The decision to activate an element (Section, Branch, Division, Group or Unit) must be based on incident objectives and resource needs.

Activation of Organizational Elements (Continued)

An important concept is that many organizational elements may be activated in various Sections without activating the Section Chief.

For example, the Situation Unit can be activated without a Planning Section Chief assigned. In this case, the supervision of the Situation Unit will rest with the Incident Commander.

A graphic of a partial organization chart: 1st level: Incident Commander 2nd level:  Safety Officer, Operations Section, Situation Unit (highlighted). Under Operations Section is a third level, which includes Victim Decontamination Group and Immediate Treatment Group.
Avoid Combining Positions

It is tempting to combine ICS positions to gain staffing efficiency. Rather than combining positions, you may assign the same individual to supervise multiple units.

When assigning personnel to multiple positions, do not use nonstandard titles. Creating new titles may be unrecognizable to assisting or cooperating personnel and may cause confusion. Be aware of potential span-of-control issues that may arise from assigning one person to multiple positions.

Graphic illustrating that it is OK for Bob to supervise both the Supply Unit and the Ground Support Unit, but it is unadvisable to combine units and have Bob supervising a unit called Supply and Ground Support Unit.
Resource Management

Maintaining an accurate and up-to-date picture of resource utilization is a critical component of incident management. The incident resource management process consists of the following:

  • Identifying Requirements
  • Ordering and Acquiring
  • Mobilizing
  • Tracking and Reporting
  • Demobilizing
  • Reimbursing and Restocking

This section of the lesson reviews key resource management principles.

Incident Objectives pointing down to Strategies pointing down to Tactics pointing down to circle with six steps: Identify Requirements, Order and Acquire, Mobilize, Track and Report, Demobilize, Reimburse and Restock.
Anticipating Incident Resource Needs

Experience and training will help you to predict workloads and corresponding staffing needs. As the graphic illustrates, an incident may build faster than resources can arrive.

Eventually, a sufficient number of resources arrive and begin to control the incident. As the incident declines, resources then exceed incident needs. Remember that when resources increase or decrease you will have to reassess your organizational structure and staffing to determine if it is right-sized for the resources that are being managed.

Image showing two arcs intersecting at the top. Arcs labeled Incident Arc and Resources Arc. Arcs start at bottom at Not Enough Resources, then join at top labeled Resources On Hand Meet Needs of Incident.  Other end of the arcs is labeled Too Many Resources.
Predicting Incident Workload

Incident workload patterns are often predictable throughout the incident life cycle. Several examples are provided below:

  • Operations Section: The workload on Operations is immediate and often massive. On a rapidly escalating incident, the Operations Section Chief must determine appropriate tactics; organize, assign, and supervise resources; and at the same time participate in the planning process.
  • Planning Section: The Resources and Situation Units will be very busy in the initial phases of the incident. In the later stages, the workload of the Documentation and Demobilization Units will increase.
  • Logistics Section: The Supply and Communications Units will be very active in the initial and final stages of the incident.
Analyzing Incident Complexity

It is important to strike the right balance when determining resource needs. Having too few resources can lead to loss of life and property, while having too many resources can result in unqualified personnel deployed without proper supervision.

A complexity analysis can help:

  • Identify resource requirements
  • Determine if the existing management structure is appropriate
Incident Complexity and Resource Needs
As illustrated below, when incident complexity increases, your resource needs and ICS structure grow accordingly.
Images of a wrecked high-rise building (Incident Complexity), a row of different company's ambulances in a lot waiting with stretchers (Resource Needs), and a large sample organization chart with no text (ICS Structure). The word 'complexity' is on the left of the images with an arrow pointing upwards.
Resource Typing

Resource Typing defines and categorizes incident resources by capability. Typing is done to ensure that responders get the right personnel and equipment.

ICS resources are categorized by Capability, Category, Kind, and Type.

  • Capability: The Core Capability or which a resource is most useful.
  • Category: The function for which a resource is most useful.
  • Kind: A description of what a resource is (personnel, teams, facilities, equipment or supplies).
  • Type: The resource's minimum capability to perform its function. The level of capability is based on size, power and capacity (for equipment), or experience and qualifications (for personnel or teams).

Example:

An Ambulance Ground Team is in the Emergency Medical Services Category. It's Resource Kind is a Team. The definition of a Type 3 Ambulance Ground Team includes a crew of 2 (an EMT 1 and an Ambulance Operator), with Basic Life Support (BLS) Capability, and the capacity to transport 2 non-ambulatory patients.

 

Importance of Resource Typing

Requesting a resource kind without specifying a resource type could result in an inadequate resource arriving on the scene.

The Order: "We need a HazMat team."

Photo 1 is two people dressed in HazMat gear caring for a patient. Photo 2 is a man with hazmat face gear.
Resource Typing (Continued)

Resource types range from Type I (most capable) to Type IV (least capable), letting you reserve the appropriate level of resource for your incident by describing the size, capability, and staffing qualifications of a specific resource.

Click on this link to view a sample resource typing.

Image of two men carrying a box labeled Type IV Capability and an image of a man standing in next to a building labeled Type I Capability. The images illustrate how resource types range from Type I (most capable) to Type IV (least capable).
Resource Typing and NIMS

Resource Management is a key component of NIMS. This effort helps all Federal, State, tribal, and local jurisdictions locate, request, and track resources to assist neighboring jurisdictions when local capability is overwhelmed.

The Resource Typing Library Tool (RTLT) is an online catalogue of national resource typing definitions, position qualifications and Position Task Books (PTBs) provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

For more information you can access the RTLT at https://rtlt.preptoolkit.fema.gov.

Additional Resource Terminology

The following terms apply to resources:

  • A Task Force is a combination of mixed resources with common communications operating under the direct supervision of a Task Force Leader.
  • A Strike Team / Resource Team is a set number of resources of the same kind and type with common communications operating under the direct supervision of a Strike Team Leader. A Strike Team may also be referred to as a Resource Team by law enforcement.
  • A Single Resource is an individual, a piece of equipment and its personnel complement, or a crew or team of individuals with an identified work supervisor that can be used on an incident.
Incident Typing: Overview

Incidents, like resources, may be categorized into five types based on complexity. Type 5 incidents are the least complex and Type 1 the most complex. Incident typing may be used to:

  • Make decisions about resource requirements.
  • Order Incident Management Teams (IMTs). An IMT is made up of the Command and General Staff members in an ICS organization.
Incident Typing: Overview (Continued)
The incident type corresponds to both the number of resources required and the anticipated incident duration. The incident types move from Type 5 being the least complex to Type 1 being the most complex. As the number of resources required gets larger and the duration of the incident gets longer, the complexity increases. The vast majority of incidents are in the Type 3-5 range.
An image showing an inverted pyramid with different levels of incidents going from Type 1 (at top) to Type 5 (at bottom). The image depicts clocks with longer durations and more people as it moves from Type 5 to Type 1.  There is a bracket which indicates the vast mojority of  all incidents are Types 3, 4, or 5.
Clocks do not depict length of incident time.
Type 5 Incident

Characteristics of a Type 5 Incident are as follows:

  • Resources: One or two single resources with up to six personnel. Command and General Staff positions (other than the Incident Commander) are not activated.
  • Time Span: Incident is contained within the first operational period and often within a few hours after resources arrive on scene. No written Incident Action Plan is required.

Examples include a vehicle fire, an injured person, or a police traffic stop.

Type 4 Incident

Characteristics of a Type 4 Incident are as follows:

  • Resources: Command Staff and General Staff functions are activated (only if needed). Several single resources are required to mitigate the incident.
  • Time Span: Limited to one operational period in the control phase. No written Incident Action Plan is required for non-HazMat incidents. A documented operational briefing is completed.
Type 3 Incident

Characteristics of a Type 3 Incident are as follows:

  • Resources: When capabilities exceed initial response, the appropriate ICS positions should be added to match the complexity of the incident. Some or all of the Command and General Staff positions may be activated, as well as Division or Group Supervisor and/or Unit Leader level positions. An Incident Management Team (IMT) or incident command organization manages initial action incidents with a significant number of resources, and an extended response incident until containment/control is achieved.
  • Time Span: The incident may extend into multiple operational periods and a written Incident Action Plan may be required for each operational period.
Type 2 Incident

Characteristics of a Type 2 Incident are as follows:

  • Resources: Regional and/or national resources are required to safely and effectively manage the operations. Most or all Command and General Staff positions are filled. Operations personnel typically do not exceed 200 per operational period and the total does not exceed 500. The agency administrator/official is responsible for the incident complexity analysis, agency administrator briefings, and written delegation of authority.
  • Time Span: The incident is expected to go into multiple operational periods. A written Incident Action Plan is required for each operational period.
Type 1 Incident

Characteristics of a Type 1 Incident are as follows:

  • Resources: National resources are required to safely and effectively manage the operations. All Command and General Staff positions are activated, and Branches need to be established. Operations personnel often exceed 500 per operational period and total personnel will usually exceed 1,000. There is a high impact on the local jurisdiction, requiring additional staff for office administrative and support functions. The incident may result in a disaster declaration.
  • Time Span: The incident is expected to go into multiple operational periods. A written Incident Action Plan is required for each operational period.
Incident Management Teams (IMTs)

IMTs are rostered groups of ICS-qualified personnel consisting of an Incident Commander, other incident leadership, and personnel qualified for other key ICS positions. An IMT may be used to respond to an incident. IMTs include Command and General Staff members. IMT types correspond to incident type and include:

  • Type 5: Local Village and Township Level
  • Type 4: City, County, or Fire District Level
  • Type 3: State, Territory, Tribal, or Metropolitan Area Level
  • Type 2: National and State Level
  • Type 1: National and State Level (Type 1 Incident)

Team members are certified as having the necessary training and experience to fulfill IMT positions.


Lesson Completion

You have completed the Organizational Flexibility lesson. You should now be able to:

  • Explain how the modular organization expands and contracts.
  • Identify factors to consider when analyzing the complexity of an incident.
  • Define the five types of incidents.

The next lesson will cover transfer of command.

Checkmark next to Course Overview, checkmark next to Incident Command and Unified Command, checkmark next to Delegation of Authority and Management by Objectives, checkmark next to Functional Areas and Positions, checkmark next to Incident Briefings and Meetings, checkmark next to Organizational Flexibility, bullet next to Transfer of Command, bullet next to Application Activity, bullet next to Course Summary.
Lesson 7 Overview

The Transfer of Command lesson introduces you to transfer of command briefings and procedures.

Lesson Objectives

At the end of this lesson you should be able to:

  • Describe the process of transfer of command.
  • List the briefing elements involved in transfer of command.
Checkmark next to Course Overview, checkmark next to Incident Command and Unified Command, checkmark next to Delegation of Authority and Management by Objectives, checkmark next to Functional Areas and Positions, checkmark next to Incident Briefings and Meetings, checkmark next to Organizational Flexibility, arrow next to Transfer of Command, bullet next to Application Activity, bullet next to Course Summary.
Transfer of Command
Transfer of command is the process of moving the responsibility for incident command from one Incident Commander to another.
When Command Is Transferred

Transfer of command may take place for many reasons, including when:

  • A jurisdiction or agency is legally required to take command
  • Change of command is necessary for effectiveness or efficiency
  • Incident complexity changes
  • There is a need to relieve personnel on incidents of extended duration
  • Personal emergencies arise (e.g., Incident Commander has a family emergency)
  • The Agency Administrator or Jurisdictional Executive directs a change in command
A More Qualified Person Arrives

The arrival of a more qualified person does NOT necessarily mean a change in incident command.

The more qualified individual may:

  • Assume command according to agency guidelines
  • Maintain command as it is and monitor command activity and effectiveness
  • Request a more qualified Incident Commander from the agency with a higher level of jurisdictional responsibility
Transfer of Command Procedures

One of the main features of ICS is a procedure to transfer command with minimal disruption to the incident. This procedure may be used any time personnel in supervisory positions change.

Whenever possible, transfer of command should:

  • Take place face-to-face
  • Include a complete briefing that captures essential information for continuing safe and effective operations

The effective time and date of the transfer of command should be communicated to all personnel involved in the incident.

Transfer of Command Briefing Elements

A transfer of command briefing should always take place. The briefing should include:

  • Situation status
  • Incident objectives and priorities
  • Current organization
  • Resource assignments
  • Resources ordered and en route
  • Incident facilities
  • Incident communications plan
  • Incident prognosis, concerns, and other issues
  • Introduction of Command and General Staff members
ICS Form 201, Incident Briefing Form

Agency policies and incident-specific issues may alter the transfer of command process. In all cases, the information shared must be documented and saved for easy retrieval during and after the incident.

The initial Incident Commander can use the ICS Form 201 to document actions and situational information.

For more complex transfer of command situations, every aspect of the incident must be documented and included in the transfer of command briefing.

Lesson Completion

You have completed the Transfer of Command lesson. You should now be able to:

  • Describe the process of transfer of command.
  • List the briefing elements involved in transfer of command.

The next lesson will be an activity that provides practice in applying the concepts discussed in this course.

Checkmark next to Course Overview, checkmark next to Incident Command and Unified Command, checkmark next to Delegation of Authority and Management by Objectives, checkmark next to Functional Areas and Positions, checkmark next to Incident Briefings and Meetings, checkmark next to Organizational Flexibility, checkmark next to Transfer of Command, bullet next to Application Activity, bullet next to Course Summary.
Lesson 8: Application Activity

Lesson Objectives

At the end of this lesson, you should be able to apply key concepts in a scenario-based activity:

  • NIMS Management Characteristics
  • Incident Command and Unified Command
  • Initial Size-up
  • Developing Incident Objectives
  • Determining Resource Requirements
  • Determining Appropriate ICS Structure for an Incident
  • Transfer of Command
Checkmark next to Course Overview, checkmark next to Incident Command and Unified Command, checkmark next to Delegation of Authority and Management by Objectives, checkmark next to Functional Areas and Positions, checkmark next to Incident Briefings and Meetings, checkmark next to Organizational Flexibility, checkmark next to Transfer of Command, arrow next to Application Activity, bullet next to Course Summary.
Scenario: Liberty County

The scenario for this activity takes place in Liberty County.

Liberty County is located in the fictional State of Columbia, on the Atlantic Coast between Canada and Mexico.

Liberty County is primarily rural with large tracts of forests, grazing lands and farmlands.

The population of the county is 302,412. Almost half of the population resides in Central City, and another quarter of the county’s permanent residents live in four smaller cities: Fisherville, Harvest Junction, Kingston and Bayport.

Liberty County government includes a Sheriff’s Department, Emergency Management Center, Public Health Department, Public Works Department and Board of Schools. The county infrastructure includes a dam and reservoir, a seaport and two airports.

Liberty County Map
Example Map of fictitious Liberty County showing Marshes; Lakes; Airports; Interstates; State Routes; Rivers/Creeks; Railroads; Parks; City Boundaries.
Central City

Central City is the county seat for Liberty County and houses a population of 149,000. It is a diverse city with industrial areas, commercial areas, multi-family housing complexes and single family sub-divisions.

Central City government includes a Fire Department, Police Department, and Public Works Department. The city has a separate school district, four hospitals and two universities.

Location Description (Part 2 of 2) - IG SM - Enlarged- Copy
Example map of fictitious Central City showing rivers, roads, parks, universities, golf course, railroad tracks, schools, fire and police stations, warehouses, hospitals, power/phone stations, Radio/TV stations, government buildings.
Your Role

You are a member of the emergency management community within Liberty County and Central City.

You could be from any of the many disciplines that could be involved in response to an incident, such as Fire, Police, Emergency Medical Services, Public Works, or Public Health. For the purposes of this activity, it is not important.

You are the first supervisory level person arriving on the scene of an incident. In this activity, you will apply what you have learned in this course to choose the appropriate initial response action that should occur.

Liberty County Fairgrounds

The Liberty County Fairgrounds are located northwest of Central City. Fairgrounds Avenue, the southern boundary of the fairgrounds, is one street north of the city limits, within the jurisdiction of Liberty County.

The indoor and outdoor facilities at the Liberty County Fairgrounds are utilized throughout most of the year.

Map of fictional Liberty County Fairgrounds. Legend is Box 1 Event Center, Box 2 Multi-Purpose Exhibit Hall #1, Box 3 is Exhibit Hall #2 Blue Exhibit Hall and Incident Location, Box 4 is Indoor Arena, Box 5 is Butler Livestock Barn, Box 6 is Fleming Livestock Barn, Box 7 is Outdoor Arena, Box 8 is Horse Stalls, Box 9 is Outdoor Stage, Box 10 is RV Parking, Box 11 is Grandstand, Midway Area is at top left, Horse Race Track is at top right, above Grandstand.
Liberty County Fair and Rodeo

It is the week of the annual Liberty County Fair and Rodeo. This event is hosted at the fairgrounds and attracts several thousands of visitors daily.

Early in the evening large crowds fill the 127-acre complex. People stream to and from the parking areas; traffic is congested; and the Midway area, outdoor stage, and Grandstand are filled to capacity.

Small elements of the County Sheriff’s office, the Central City Police Department, the Central City Fire Department, and County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) are located in and around the fairgrounds to provide for public safety at the event. These organizations are operating cooperatively, but no centralized incident command structure has been established.

Tanker Truck Crash

At about 5 p.m. A large truck traveling fast heading west on Fairgrounds Avenue veers off the road, jumps the curb near the fairgrounds entrance, and passes through the crowd. The vehicle stops when it runs into an exhibit hall next to the outdoor stage. A few moments later, as the crowd begins to react, the large truck catches fire. 

Several people were injured as the tanker truck passed through the crowd and there could be deaths. There is disorder as some attempt to flee and others try to help.

The large truck is an active fire that must be suppressed and could spread to nearby structures. There are other potential hazards including a damaged building and utilities (power, water, and gas) that could be damaged.

Public safety personnel on scene- law enforcement, fire, and EMS- respond immediately to the incident. Both the Central City and Liberty County Emergency Operations Centers are notified of these events and prepare to send any additional resources required for the incident.

Establish Command

It is now approximately 5:15 pm. You are the first supervisor on scene and there is a need to quickly to establish Incident Command.

Let’s review a few of the NIMS Management Characteristics that apply to determining the best approach for the Incident Command function in an incident:

  • Establishment and Transfer of Command – the first on scene need to explicitly establish incident or unified command and clearly state and record when command is transferred.
  • Chain of Command and Unity of Command – all responders must be under a single command structure led by a designated Incident Commander (IC) or Unified Command (UC).
  • Unified Command – if multiple organizations, disciplines, or jurisdictions are involved in the response, is a single IC sufficient, or is there a need for a unified command? UC is normally used for incidents involving multiple jurisdictions, a single jurisdiction with multiagency involvement, or multiple jurisdictions with multiagency involvement.
What type of Incident Command is needed?

Answer (regardless of the choice selected):

There is not one right answer to this question. The general rule is that the jurisdiction or organization with primary responsibility for the incident will designate the incident commander. In this scenario this incident occurred within the jurisdiction of Liberty County. However, at the outset Fire and EMS will likely have the largest role. The Fire resources are from Central City and the EMS are from Liberty County. This is an incident that will involve multiple jurisdictions and agencies. A Unified Command with representatives from the various jurisdictions and agencies involved in response to this incident, to include Fire/EMS, Law Enforcement and Public Works is also a viable approach. If you chose this, remember that in a Unified Command, each organization in the Unified Command provides an Incident Commander, and this group of Commanders manage the incident together by establishing a common set of incident objectives.

For the purposes of this scenario, because it is an incident centered on removing casualties from the area of the fire and suppressing the fire, a single Incident Commander is sufficient. We will establish Incident Command with a single Incident Commander from the fire service. All agencies involved in the response will take direction from this Incident Commander.

Establish Command (Continued)

So, as you are the first supervisor on scene what type of incident command do you think is needed?

  1. A single Incident Commander from the Fire Department because the evacuation of casualties and the fire are the primary concerns.
  2. A single Incident Commander from EMS because there are casualties and life safety is your number one priority.
  3. A single Incident Commander from the Liberty County Sheriff because the incident occurred within the jurisdiction of Liberty County and there are potential crime scene considerations.
  4. A single incident Commander from Public Works because the incident has affected infrastructure and damaged utilities could expand the impact of the incident.
  5. A Unified Command representing Fire/EMS, Law Enforcement and Public Works.

 

Establish Command (Continued)

You have established incident command under a single Incident Commander. This Incident Commander will be from the Central City Fire Department. Other jurisdictions and agencies involved in response to this incident will take their direction from this Incident Commander.

This conforms to the NIMS Management Characteristic of Chain of Command and Unity of Command – all responders are under a single command structure led by an Incident Commander.

Remember that the Incident Commander will manage the incident by establishing a common set of incident objectives for all jurisdictions and agencies involved in this response.

So, what is next?

Acting as the Incident Commander and determining your approach to the incident, your initial actions should include a Size-Up.

A size-up is done to develop initial incident objectives. Incident objectives will define what types of resources are required to respond to the incident. Finally, the resources the Incident Commander will manage affect which Command and General Staff positions will be activated to assist the IC in management of the incident.

Diagram with box labeled Incident Commander, arrow pointing to document labeled Incident Objectives.  Three arrows pointing from Incident Objectives to Strategies, Resources, and ICS Structure.

The considerations for a size-up outlined in this course include:

  1. Size-up the nature and magnitude of the incident.
  2. Determine the hazards and safety concerns.
  3. Determine Initial Priorities and immediate Resource Requirements.
  4. Determine the location of the Incident Command Post and Staging Area.
  5. Determine the Entrance and Exit Routes for Responders.

Again, you will need to first complete your size-up activities to determine the ICS sections that you will need to manage the incident.

In the following activity, you will walk through these initial actions that you will take as the first supervisor on scene.

Size-Up the Nature and Magnitude

We will start size-up by looking at the first two considerations:

  • Size-up the nature and magnitude of the incident
  • Determine the hazards and safety concerns

Nature and magnitude refer to your assessment of what kind of incident you face. This can include the type of incident and the size and complexity of the event.

What do you assess is the nature of this incident?

  • A Fire event because we are dealing with a vehicle fire, a potential structural fire, and injured personnel
  • A Medical event because we are dealing with injured and potentially dead personnel
  • A Law Enforcement event because there is a requirement for scene and traffic control and the possibility of a crime scene
  • A Public Infrastructure event due to the potential for downed power lines, water pipes, and potential presence of gas from damaged utilities
What is the nature of the incident?

The nature of the incident cannot be captured in one simple factor.

It is a fire and rescue event, but it will also require medical treatment, traffic control, and public works.

There is complexity to this incident because it involves a variety of hazards, threats, jurisdictions, and agencies.

Remember that as incidents increase in complexity they will require more resources and a larger Incident Command organization.

Incident Typing

You should recall from this course that a useful way of characterizing incidents is by incident typing.

Incidents are categorized into 5 types based on complexity. Type 5 incidents are the least complex and Type 1 incidents are the most complex.

Factors that impact the determination of incident type include size of the ICS structure, number of resources employed, and the length of time the incident response is anticipated to last.

Incident Typing (Continued)

Review the following definitions and determine what Incident Type is appropriate for the incident in this scenario.

  • TYPE 5 INCIDENT: One or two single response resources with up to 6 response personnel, Incident expected to last only a few hours, no ICS Command and General Staff positions activated.
  • TYPE 4 INCIDENT: Several single response resources required, response will be limited to one operational period, select ICS Command and General Staff activated only as needed.
  • TYPE 3 INCIDENT: Resource requirements will exceed the initial response resources, may extend into multiple operational periods, some or all ICS Command and General Staff are activated.
  • TYPE 2 INCIDENT: Regional or National resources will be required, the incident will extend into multiple operational periods, most or all ICS Command and General Staff positions are filled.
  • TYPE 1 INCIDENT: National level resources are required, the incident will extend into multiple operational periods, all ICS Command and General Staff positions are utilized, and Branches need to be established.
An image showing an inverted pyramid with different levels of incidents going from Type 1 (at top) to Type 5 (at bottom). The image depicts clocks with longer durations and more people as it moves from Type 5 to Type 1.  There is a bracket which indicates the vast mojority of  all incidents are Types 3, 4, or 5.
Clocks do not depict length of incident time.
Hazards and Safety Concerns

Understanding that this is a Type 4 Incident should already give you a framework to understand the number of resources you will need, how long the response may take, and the need to establish some ICS Command and General Staff for the incident.

The next part of the Initial Response Activities is to determine the hazards and safety concerns in the incident.

Thinking through the hazards and safety concerns is an important exercise for the Incident Commander or Unified Command. You must define the problems that you face before you can determine and prioritize the actions that you need to take in response to the incident.

Hazards and Safety Concerns (Continued)

To review the scenario, here is an excerpt from the description provided earlier:

Several people were injured as the large truck passed through the crowd and there may be deaths. There is disorder as some attempt to flee and others try to help.

The tanker truck is an active fire that must be suppressed and could spread to nearby structures. The building and utilities (power, water, and gas) could be damaged and may present additional hazards to people in the affected area.

Summary of Hazards and Safety Concerns

The hazards include:

  • Vehicle fire with a potential to spread to structures.
  • Potential for explosions if the fire encounters fuel or compressed gas cylinders.
  • Damaged utilities that could harm incident survivors and responders.
  • Potential structural collapse of the building hit by the tanker truck.

The safety concerns include:

  • Harm to survivors or responders from the hazards.
  • Injured people unable to self-evacuate from the immediate area of the fire.
  • Uninjured people fleeing the incident scene.
  • Traffic congestion that restricts responder vehicle access to the incident. 
Determine Initial Priorities and Immediate Resource Requirements

Now that you have defined the nature and magnitude of the incident and understand the hazards and safety concerns that you are faced with, you can start determining priorities and resources.

Let’s start by reviewing two of the NIMS Management Characteristics that apply to determining priorities:

  • Management by Objectives: Identify response priorities and objectives and define the resources required to achieve the objectives. This is a key activity that must be documented.
  • Incident Action Planning: incident objectives, tactics and assignments for operations and support are recorded and communicated through an Incident Action Plan (IAP). While this may not start as an extensive written document early in a response, as incidents increase in size, complexity, and length, it is increasingly important to document incident response activities.
Determine Initial Priorities and Immediate Resource Requirements (Continued)

Now you need to determine what actions must be taken in response to the incident.

Develop some simple objectives for a few of the previously identified incident hazards and safety concerns, and remember to utilize the “SMART” approach discussed in this course: incident objectives should be Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic and Time-sensitive.

 

Some possible objectives developed to address these hazards and safety concerns are listed below.
Hazards and Safety ConcernsPossible Objectives
Untreated, immobile injured personnel

1. Evacuate all injured personnel from the vicinity of the crashed tanker truck to the on-scene medical personnel within 15 minutes (by 5:30p.m.)

2. Provide on-site triage, stabilization and hospital transport for incident survivors within 30 minutes (by 5:45)

Fire and flammable gasses

3. Extinguish vehicle fire within 30 minutes (by 5:45 p.m.)

4. Mitigate leaks of flammable fuels and compressed gas to prevent expansion of the fire within 1 hour (by 6:15 p.m.)

Fleeing crowd and traffic congestion

5. Establish a controlled perimeter around the incident within 45 minutes (by 6 p.m.)

6. Manage traffic on Fairgrounds Avenue, C Street and E Street to ensure responder access within 30 minutes (by 6:45)

Determine Initial Priorities and Immediate Resource Requirements (Continued)

You have a lot of objectives for this incident. You will be pursuing multiple objectives simultaneously, but you also need to understand the priority of your objectives. Which of the objectives do you assess has the greatest importance?

From the choices below, which do you assess as your top priority objective?

  1. Provide medical care for injured personnel
  2. Mitigate flammable/ explosive materials
  3. Establish a controlled perimeter around the incident

 

Determine Initial Priorities and Immediate Resource Requirements (Continued)

Once you have determined your objectives and priorities, you should next determine the resources that you will need to respond to the incident and accomplish your objectives.

Define the resources that you believe you will need to accomplish these objectives.

Remember the following NIMS Management Characteristics that can be applied to determining resource requirements:

  • Comprehensive Resource Management: what resources are available for assignment or allocation (personnel, equipment, teams, and facilities)? IC/ UC can draw for pre-existing plans and resource management tools to assist in determining what resources are readily available and which must be filled externally.
  • Incident Facilities and Locations: what facilities are required to manage the incident and where will they be located?
  • Integrated Communications: can all disciplines and organizations involved in incident management and response communicate effectively. Are there any communication gaps that must be addressed?
Determine Initial Priorities and Immediate Resource Requirements (Continued)

Before we move on from resources let’s review a few more NIMS Management Characteristics that can be applied to managing resources:

  • Common Terminology: Using standard terms for resources can help to ensure that when you request a resource it meets your requirements.
  • Accountability: You will need processes to record and report the status of all incident resources from the time they arrive on the incident until they are returned to their jurisdiction.
  • Deployment: You will need to control deployment of resources to ensure that you receive only what you have requested. Unrequested resources can take up space needed for requested resources and can create additional management requirements on the Incident Command or Unified Command.
Determine Incident Locations

Congratulations, you have completed the first three initial response actions:

  • Size-up the nature and magnitude of the incident
  • Determine the hazards and safety concerns
  • Determine initial priorities and immediate resource requirements

Next you have to consider a few issues associated with site control:

  • Determine the location of the Incident Command Post and staging area
  • Determine the entrance and exit routes for responders
Determine Incident Locations (Continued)

Review the map and indicate where you would place the following incident locations:

  • Incident Command Post
  • Staging Area
  • Entry point for responders
  • Exit point for responders

 

Map of fictional Liberty County Fairgrounds. Legend is Box 1 Event Center, Box 2 Multi-Purpose Exhibit Hall #1, Box 3 is Exhibit Hall #2 Blue Exhibit Hall and Incident Location, Box 4 is Indoor Arena, Box 5 is Butler Livestock Barn, Box 6 is Fleming Livestock Barn, Box 7 is Outdoor Arena, Box 8 is Horse Stalls, Box 9 is Outdoor Stage, Box 10 is RV Parking, Box 11 is Grandstand, Midway Area and Horse Race Track in Legend but not shown.
Establish an ICS Structure

Acting as the Incident Commander you have completed a size-up to include identifying hazards and safety issues, setting priorities, determining resources, and defining key initial incident management locations.

Now that you understand what you are trying to accomplish and what resources you will be managing, you will need to define the ICS structure that will be needed to support management of the incident.

At this point in the scenario, the Incident Command likely consists of the Fire Chief working over the hood of a command vehicle. Additional resources will be arriving soon and the Incident Commander will need additional staff personnel to help in the management in the incident response.

There are several NIMS Management Characteristics that can be applied to determining the appropriate ICS structure for an incident:

  • Chain of Command and Unity of Command: All resources should work for a single general staff section and all general staff sections should report to and receive direction from a single IC.
  • Manageable Span of Control: the ICS structure must be of a sufficient size to assist the IC in effectively managing the incident. A key to this is constraining the number of subordinates or functions that each supervisor manages.
  • Modular Organization: what pieces of the ICS structure are needed to manage the incident? Think ahead to the next operational period because what you need then often must be asked for now.
Establish an ICS Structure (Continued)

What ICS Command and General Staff positions will you need to manage the incident?

Remember that the Incident Commander/Unified Command is responsible for performing all of these functions personally until they activate that function.

  • Incident Command
  • Public Information
  • Safety
  • Liaison
  • Operations
  • Planning
  • Logistics
  • Finance/Administration
Establish an ICS Structure (Continued)

We previously assessed that this is a Type 4 Incident.

We expect several pieces of fire apparatus, ambulance crews, and law enforcement personnel to be involved. Between the incident site, the staging area, and the perimeter we can assume that at least 30 Law Enforcement, Fire, and EMS personnel will be involved in the incident response. These personnel will be distributed across at six to ten separate locations in and around the fairgrounds.

Map of fictional Liberty County Fairgrounds. Legend is Box 1 Event Center, Box 2 Multi-Purpose Exhibit Hall #1, Box 3 is Exhibit Hall #2 Blue Exhibit Hall and Incident Location, Box 4 is Indoor Arena, Box 5 is Butler Livestock Barn, Box 6 is Fleming Livestock Barn, Box 7 is Outdoor Arena, Box 8 is Horse Stalls, Box 9 is Outdoor Stage, Box 10 is RV Parking, Box 11 is Grandstand, Midway Area and Horse Race Track in Legend but not shown.
Establish an ICS Structure (Continued)

For the purposes of this activity, we will only look at the eight Command Staff and General Staff positions.

 

Establish an ICS Structure (Continued)

Recall what function each Command and General Staff position performs:

  • Public Information Officer (PIO) interfaces with the public, media, and others needing incident information.
  • Safety Officer monitors incident operations and advises the Incident Command on matters relating to health and safety.
  • Liaison Officer serves as the Incident Command’s point of contact for organizations not included in the Unified Command.
  • Operations Section plans and performs tactical activities to achieve the Incident Objectives established by the Incident Command.
  • Planning Section personnel collect, evaluate, and disseminate incident information to the IC/UC and other incident personnel.
  • Logistics Section personnel are responsible for providing services and support for the incident.
  • IC/UC establishes a Finance/Administration Section when the incident management activities require on-scene or incident-specific finance and administrative support services.
Staff Selection Practice

Select the boxes for the Command Staff and General Staff Positions you assess will be required to manage the incident. You will receive feedback for each position that you select.

 

Public Information OfficerSafety OfficerLiaison OfficerOperations Section ChiefPlanning Section ChiefLogistics Section ChiefFinance/Administration Section Chief
Incident Command. Command Staff, Public Information Officer, Safety Officer, Liaison Officer. General Staff, Operations Section Chief, Planning Section Chief, Logistics Section Chief, Finance/Administration Section Chief.

To see all of the feedback for each position, select this link: Feedback for all Positions.

Public Information Officer
You will probably need to designate a Public Information Officer (PIO) relatively early in the incident to interfaces the media and others needing incident information. This incident will attract media attention, and there will be public inquiries about incident casualties.
Safety Officer
You may need to designate a Safety Officer to monitors incident operations and advise the Incident Commander on health and safety. A Safety Officer is a legal requirement for any HazMat incident but is also a good practice for any incident involving multiple hazards.
Liaison Officer
The Liaison Officer serves as the incident command’s point of contact for organizations not included in the Command. You may have chosen not to activate this position. If you did, it is likely because you assess other agencies such as Public Health or Public works will have a role in the incident response.
Operations Officer
You should certainly activate the Operations Section to plan and perform tactical activities to achieve the incident objectives. The size of this response operation will exceed what you can reasonably expect the Incident Commander to manage personally.
Planning Section
You might not initially assess that you require a Planning Section to collect, evaluate, and disseminate incident information. The current assessment is that the incident will be resolved within a few hours. However, if you assess that this will extend into a second operational period, the establishment of a Planning Section becomes important. It allows Operations to focus on the current operational period while Planning looks ahead to the next operational period.
Logistics Section
Initially, you may not assess that a separate Logistics Section is needed to manage services and support for the incident. A staging area manager under the Operations Section may be sufficient for your initial resource management needs. However, as the incident increases in size and complexity, it will take increasingly more time and resources. When you assess that the incident is continuing to grow in size and complexity, you should establish a Logistics Section Chief to manage this distinct function.
Finance/Administration Section
You likely did not elect to establish a Finance/Administration Section because at this point the incident management activities do not require on-scene or incident-specific finance and administrative support services. Again, when you assess that the incident is continuing to grow in size and complexity you will have to consider establishing a Finance/Administration Section Chief to manage this function.
Scenario Part 2

It is now just after 6 p.m. and the situation appears to be getting worse.

The initial assessment of several injuries was incorrect. There are over a dozen injuries and at least three dead.

The vehicle fire spread quickly to the building, igniting a damaged natural gas line in a kitchen area. The combination of explosion, fire, and collision damage caused the building to partially collapse. The fire continues to burn and now threatens other surrounding structures.

The crowds are under control, but traffic has not yet completely cleared from the area and continues to slow the ingress and egress of emergency management resources.

The vehicle driver has not been found and the origin and contents of the large truck have not been identified. This raises new concerns that this could have been an intentional act and that the truck could have been transporting something hazardous.

This incident has increased in size and complexity and will extend into at least one more operational period.

Transfer of Command

As the Incident Commander you make this assessment:

Incident Command: This is an incident that will now involve more jurisdictions and agencies. Law Enforcement is concerned with investigation and crime scene preservation, and Hazardous Materials (HazMat) assessment must be reconciled with your other priorities. A Unified Command with representatives from the various jurisdictions and agencies involved in response to this incident, to include Fire, EMS, Law Enforcement, and Public Works may now be the best approach for Incident Command.

Nature and magnitude of the incident: This is now a Type 3 Incident. Resource requirements will exceed the initial response resources you have on site, the incident will extend into multiple operational periods, and additional ICS Command and General Staff positions will have to be activated

Hazards and safety concerns: The number of concerns has increased.

Priorities and resource requirements: While your current objectives are still valid, there will be additional objectives associated with law enforcement investigation, HazMat response, and Public Works actions that will require the development of new objectives. These objectives will have to be prioritized and additional resources will be needed to accomplish the objectives.

ICS structure: The ICS structure will need to be expanded. Liaisons, a Planning Section, a Logistics Section, and an Intelligence/Investigations function are some of the positions that should now be considered for inclusion in the Incident Command structure.

Two photos showing Unified Command and ICS Structure Diagram, with Incident Command. Command Staff, Public Information Officer, Safety Officer, Liaison Officer. General Staff, Operations Section Chief, Planning Section Chief, Logistics Section Chief, Finance/Administration Section Chief.
Transfer of Command (Continued)

The initial Incident Commander may continue to serve as a member of a Unified Command. It is also possible that the increase in complexity will lead to the appointment of more senior personnel to Incident Command.

Remember that Establishment and Transfer of Command is a NIMS Management Characteristic. You must clearly state and record when command is transferred.

The Transfer of Command should be conducted to create minimal disruption to the incident. Whenever possible, the Transfer of Command should include a complete briefing on the situation conducted face to face with the new Incident Commander or Unified Command.

The NIMS Management Characteristic Incident Action Planning also applies here. Incident objectives, tactics, and assignments for operations and support should be recorded and communicated through an Incident Action Plan (IAP). As your incident increased in size, complexity, and length, you should have started to document incident response activities in a written plan.

The ICS Form 201 is a standard format to record key situational information and document actions taken on an incident.

Lesson Summary

You have completed the Application Activity. You have applied these key concepts to a scenario-based activity:

  • NIMS Management Characteristics
  • Incident Command and Unified Command
  • Initial Size-up
  • Developing Incident Objectives
  • Determining Resource Requirements
  • Determining Appropriate ICS Structure for an Incident
  • Transfer of Command

Checkmark next to Course Overview, checkmark next to Incident Command and Unified Command, checkmark next to Delegation of Authority and Management by Objectives, checkmark next to Functional Areas and Positions, checkmark next to Incident Briefings and Meetings, checkmark next to Organizational Flexibility, checkmark next to Transfer of Command, checkmark next to Application Activity, bullet next to Course Summary.
Lesson 9 Overview
This lesson provides a brief summary of the Basic Incident Command System for Initial Response course content. After reviewing the summary information, you will receive instructions for taking the course Final Exam.
Lesson 1: Course Overview (NIMS & ICS Review)
  • NIMS provides the Nation with a standardized framework for incident management.
  • ICS, a part of NIMS, is a management system used to meet the demands of incidents large or small, planned or unplanned.
  • The NIMS Management Characteristics:
    1. Common Terminology
    2. Modular Organization
    3. Management by Objectives
    4. Incident Action Planning
    5. Manageable Span of Control
    6. Incident Facilities and Locations
    7. Comprehensive Resource Management
    8. Integrated Communications
    9. Establishment and Transfer of Command
    10. Unified Command
    11. Chain of Command and Unity of Command
    12. Accountability
    13. Dispatch/Deployment
    14. Information and Intelligence Management
Lesson 2: Incident Command and Unified Command
  • Chain of Command is the line of authority that flows down through the organizational structure.
  • Unity of Command means that each individual will be assigned and report to only one supervisor.
  • Unity of Command is different from Unified Command; Unified Command is established when no one jurisdiction, agency, or organization has primary authority, therefore there is no one clear Incident Commander. These multiple agencies work together to communicate and make command decisions.
  • Communication during an incident may be formal or informal
    • Formal communications must be used for work assignments, resource requests, and progress reports.
    • Informal communication is used to exchange incident or event information only. 
  • All levels of leadership on an incident should understand and practice the leadership principles, have a commitment to duty, and take actions that prioritize the safety of personnel.
  • Clear communication is the responsibility of all responders in order to accomplish incident objectives. Incident Management Assessments may be conducted by leadership after an incident to help personnel process what happened and why.
  • ICS utilizes a Modular Organization so that the organization can expand and contract as an incident grows and shrinks. This modular organization helps maintain an effective span of control.
  • Manageable span of control with Modular Organization is accomplished by organizing resources into Teams, Divisions, Groups, Branches, or Sections. Leadership in each organizational level holds a unique title.
  • The flexibility allowed for in ICS does is not override the importance of Common Terminology. Common Terminology must be used to maintain clear communication, whether formal or informal.
Lesson 3: Delegation of Authority and Management by Objectives
  • Authority is the right or obligation to act on behalf of a department, agency, or jurisdiction.
  • The scope of authority that an Incident Commander has is determined by existing laws, policies, and procedures. Additional authority may be delegated when necessary. 
  • Delegation of authority is the process of granting authority to an individual or agency to carry out specific functions during an incident.
  • Delegation of authority does NOT relieve the granting entity of the responsibility for that function. Authority can be delegated; responsibility cannot.
  • When needed, a delegation of authority should contain elements related to restrictions, external implications and considerations, and planning and communication processes.
  • Authority is implemented by the Incident Commander through the management of objectives. Effective Incident Objectives should be SMART. Objectives are not tactics or strategies; they state what needs to be accomplished, not how to do it.
  • Objectives are a part of the Incident Action Plan, which is completed each operational period and outlines incident-specific information. It is created through a process known as the Operational Period Planning Cycle (Planning P).
  • Incident Command, as well as Command and General Staff, should also have a working knowledge of other preparedness plans, such as EOPs, SOGs, SOPs, and mutual aid agreements.
Lesson 4: Functional Areas and Positions
  • The Incident Commander oversees the incident, sets incident objectives, and approves the IAP.
  • Command Staff include the Public Information Officer, Safety Officer, and Liaison Officer.
  • The Incident Commander also oversees four sections of the ICS organizational structure: Operations, Planning, Logistics, and Finance & Administration. Each of these sections is responsible for a different function during an incident; Sections are led by the General Staff who report to the Incident Commander. General Staff are titled as Section Chiefs.
  • Operations directs and coordinates all incident tactical operations.
  • Planning maintains resource and situation status, prepares the IAP and other documents, and looks beyond the current operational period to anticipate potential future problems or events.
  • Logistics is responsible for all support requirements, including communications, facility supplies, medical needs, and food and drink for incident personnel.
  • Finance/Administration provides administrative and financial support services. This includes handling claims related to property damage, injuries, and fatalities.
  • ICS Forms help communicate and organize information between Command, Command Staff, General Staff, and other incident personnel.
Lesson 5: Incident Briefings and Meetings
  • Different meetings and briefings are used during the Incident Action Planning Process to share information.
  • Briefings should be concise and may occur at the staff, field, or section level.
  • Information shared during a briefing includes the current situation and objectives, safety issues and emergency procedures, work tasks, facilities and work areas, communication protocols, expectations, resource acquisition procedures, work schedules, and questions or concerns. 
  • The Operational Period Briefing is led by the Incident Commander to present the IAP. Command and General Staff will also participate to share important information.
Lesson 6: Organizational Flexibility
  • NIMS requires organizational standardization use of Common Terminology; however, ICS is still flexible due to its Modular Organization.
  • Functions and positions within the organizational structure are activated and filled based on the needs and demand of an incident. The ICS organizational structure will expand and contract with the incident.
  • Personnel may hold multiple titles within an incident’s organizational structure, but the titles must keep consistent with NIMS titles. Titles may not be shortened or combined.
  • Proper Resource Management is essential to maintaining an accurate and up-to-date picture of resource utilization and needs.
  • Incidents are typed based on size and complexity. Incident types move from Type 5 as the least complex to Type 1 as the most complex.
Lesson 7: Transfer of Command
  • Transfer of Command is the process of moving the responsibility for incident command from one Incident Commander to another Incident Commander or Unified Command.
  • Transfer of Command should take place face-to-face when possible and include a complete briefing that captures essential information.
  • The transfer of command briefing should include elements such as the situation status, incident objectives and priorities, current organization, resource information, incident communications plan, etc.
  • A notification of the time and date that the transfer of command becomes effective should be communicated to all incident personnel.
Congratulations!

You should now be able to demonstrate knowledge of how to manage an initial response to an incident.

The course specifically discussed:

  • Incident Command and Unified Command
  • Delegation of Authority & Management by Objectives
  • Functional Areas & Positions
  • Incident Briefings and Meetings
  • Organizational Flexibility 
  • Transfer of Command 
  • Application of ICS for Initial Response 
Checkmark next to Course Overview, checkmark next to Incident Command and Unified Command, checkmark next to Delegation of Authority and Management by Objectives, checkmark next to Functional Areas and Positions, checkmark next to Incident Briefings and Meetings, checkmark next to Organizational Flexibility, checkmark next to Transfer of Command, checkmark next to Application Activity, checkmark next to Course Summary.