Incidents may be typed in order to make decisions about resource requirements. Incident types are based on the following five levels of complexity. (Source: U.S. Fire Administration)

Type 5

  • The incident can be handled with one or two single resources with up to six personnel.
  • Command and General Staff positions (other than the Incident Commander) are not activated.
  • No written Incident Action Plan (IAP) is required.
  • The incident is contained within the first operational period and often within an hour to a few hours after resources arrive on scene.
  • Examples include a vehicle fire, an injured person, or a police traffic stop.

Type 4

  • Command staff and general staff functions are activated only if needed.
  • Several resources are required to mitigate the incident, including a Task Force or Strike Team.
  • The incident is usually limited to one operational period in the control phase.
  • The agency administrator may have briefings, and ensure the complexity analysis and delegation of authority are updated.
  • No written Incident Action Plan (IAP) is required but a documented operational briefing will be completed for all incoming resources.
  • The role of the agency administrator includes operational plans including objectives and priorities.

Type 3

  • When capabilities exceed initial attack, 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/Group Supervisor and/or Unit Leader level positions.
  • A Type 3 Incident Management Team (IMT) or incident command organization manages initial action incidents with a significant number of resources, an extended attack incident until containment/control is achieved, or an expanding incident until transition to a Type 1 or 2 IMT.
  • The incident may extend into multiple operational periods.
  • A written IAP may be required for each operational period.

Type 2

  • This type of incident extends beyond the capabilities for local control and is expected to go into multiple operational periods. A Type 2 incident may require the response of resources out of area, including regional and/or national resources, to effectively manage the operations, command, and general staffing.
  • Most or all of the Command and General Staff positions are filled.
  • A written IAP is required for each operational period.
  • Many of the functional units are needed and staffed.
  • Operations personnel normally do not exceed 200 per operational period and total incident personnel do not exceed 500 (guidelines only).
  • The agency administrator is responsible for the incident complexity analysis, agency administrator briefings, and the written delegation of authority.

Type 1

  • This type of incident is the most complex, requiring national resources to safely and effectively manage and operate.
  • All Command and General Staff positions are activated.
  • Operations personnel often exceed 500 per operational period and total personnel will usually exceed 1,000.
  • Branches need to be established.
  • The agency administrator will have briefings, and ensure that the complexity analysis and delegation of authority are updated.
  • Use of resource advisors at the incident base is recommended.
  • There is a high impact on the local jurisdiction, requiring additional staff for office administrative and support functions.
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