|Introduction to the
Incident Command System
Those problems included but
were not limited to:
|It is imperative
to direct the resources during a crisis situation. There must be someone
in charge and that person must clearly establish priorities and provide
direction. Without this, chaos and conflict exist.
The Incident Command System
(ICS) uses common terminology that is descriptive and decisive, yet not
difficult to understand, in order to control personnel, resources, and
communications at the scene of a critical incident.
The ICS is not brand new.
It was originally developed in the 1970ís after a series of wild land fires
ravaged Southern California. Because of the large number of resources involved
in those incidents there were many problems among emergency responders.
Although originally a fire service
control system, ICS has since been adopted by a wide variety of local,
state, and national emergency management and law enforcement organizations
due to its many documented successes.
Too many people reporting to
Different emergency response
Lack of reliable incident information.
Inadequate and incompatible
Lack of a structure for coordinated
planning between agencies.
Unclear lines of authority.
Terminology differences between
Unclear or unspecified incident
Thirty years later,
ICS has evolved into the accepted way to manage emergencies. In fact, there
are federal laws that mandate its use by individuals responding to hazardous
materials incidents. Specifically, OSHA rule 1910.120, which became effective
March 6, 1990, requires that all organizations that handle hazardous materials
to use the Incident Command System Non-OSHA states are also required by
the Environmental Protection Agency to use ICS when responding to hazardous
The following agencies
and entities, among others, have endorsed the use of ICS:
Federal Emergency Management
NFPA Standard 1405 (Land-Based
Firefighters who respond to marine vessel fires) was developed at the request
of, and in cooperation with, the U.S. Coast Guard and calls for the use
of ICS. The U.S. Coast Guard also is incorporating ICS basic structure
and management principles into the National Response System used for oil
and hazardous material pollution response.
National Curriculum Advisory
Committee on Incident Command Systems / Emergency Operations Management
System recommends adoption of ICS as a multi hazard/all-agency system.
FEMA's National Fire Academy
(NFA) has adopted ICS as a model system for fire services.
FEMA's Urban Search and Rescue
Response System, a component of the Federal Response Plan, uses ICS as
its on site management structure.
The Occupational Safety and
Health Administration (OSHA) requires that all governmental and private
organizations that handle hazardous materials use ICS.
The National Fire Protection
Association (NFPA) Standard 1500 states that all departments should establish
written procedures for use of ICS.
Applications of the Incident
The Incident Command System
has considerable flexibility. It can grow or shrink to meet different needs.
This makes it a very cost-effective and efficient management system. The
system can be applied to a wide variety of emergency and non-emergency
situations. Listed below are some examples of these kinds of incidents
and events that can use the Incident Command System:
NFPA 1561: Standard on Fire
Department Incident Management Systems
wide-area search and rescue
oil spill response and recovery
single and multi-agency law
air, rail, water or ground
private sector emergency
major natural catastrophes
major planned events such
as celebrations, parades, concerts
The purpose of this standard
is to provide structure and coordination to the management of emergency
incidents to help ensure the safety and health of fire department members.
It requires adoption of an incident management system to manage all emergency
incidents and training exercises, with written plans to anticipate incidents
that require standardized procedures.
It also requires the department
coordinate with other agencies
involved in emergency incidents
create a command structure and
define standard supervisory assignments for each incident
develop incident commander,
command staff, planning, logistics, operations, communications, staging,
and finance functions ensure personnel accountability and rest and rehabilitation
for all members at the incident.