How Many Nims Management Characteristics Are There
14 The Incident Command System (ICS) is based on the following 14 proven NIMS management characteristics, each of which contributes to the strength and efficiency of the overall system: Common Terminology.

How many characteristics are in NIMS?

Lesson 3: NIMS Management Characteristics





NIMS Management Characteristics

NIMS bases incident command and coordination on fourteen NIMS Management Characteristics. These fourteen characteristics are building blocks that contribute strength and efficiency to the National Incident Management System. Click on each characteristic to find out more information.





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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. As incident complexity increases, the organizational structure expands and management responsibilities are further divided.
  4. 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

  1. The Incident Commander, Unified Command or EOC Director establishes incident support facilities for specific purposes.
  2. These facilities are identified and located based on the requirements of the situation.
  3. Incident size and complexity will influence the designation of facilities and locations.
  4. 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.


Lesson 3: NIMS Management Characteristics Summary

This lesson presented an overview of NIMS Management Characteristics. The lesson specifically discussed:
  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
  • •Integrated Communications
  • •Establishment and Transfer of Command
  • •Unified Command
  • •Chain of Command and Unity of Command
  • •Accountability
  • •Dispatch/ Deployment
  • •Information and Intelligence Management






What are the 14 characteristics of NIMS?

14 Management Characteristics of NIMS

Common Terminology Integrated Communications
Incident Action Planning Chain of Command & Unity of Command
Manageable Span of Control Accountability
Incident Facilities and Locations Dispatch/Deployment
Comprehensive Resource Management Information and Intelligence Management

What is NIMS management characteristic chain 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.

How many NIMS management characteristics are there in ICS 100?

The Incident Command System (ICS) is based on the following 14 proven NIMS management characteristics, each of which contributes to the strength and efficiency of the overall system: Common Terminology.

How many components of NIMS are there?

NIMS features six integrated components that are the foundation of its systematic approach for responding to incidents. They are: 1) Command and Management; 2) Preparedness; 3) Resource Management; 4) Communications and Information Management; 5) Supporting Technologies; and 6) Ongoing Management and Maintenance.

What are the 4 components of NIMS?

NIMS Components Command and management. Preparedness. Resource management. Communications and information management.

How many NIMS guiding principles are there?

To achieve these priorities, incident management personnel use NIMS components in accordance with three NIMS guiding principles: Flexibility. Standardization. Unity of Effort.

What is the NIMS characteristic accountability?

Review each statement below and indicate if it is true or false. Select your answers from the dropdown lists for each item, then click on the Check button to check your work.
1. Accountability means that incident personnel adhere to check-in/check-out, incident action planning, unity of command, resource tracking, and other principles.
2. An Incident Action Plan is an oral or written plan containing objectives that address tactics and support activities for the planned operational period.
3. In a major incident, personnel and equipment should be dispatched even without being requested.


Tries Remaining: 2


Which NIMS characteristic allows units from?

Which NIMS Management Characteristic allows units from diverse agencies to connect, share information, and achieve situational awareness? Answer: Integrated Communications allows units from diverse agencies to connect, share information, and achieve situational awareness.

It is a critical piece of technology that allows first responders to coordinate their response to emergencies. The ability of different agencies to connect and share information is essential for an effective response to any emergency. Integrated Communications systems allow first responders to connect with each other and share information in real-time.

This coordination between agencies can help save lives and property. Many different types of Integrated Communications systems are available, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. It is important for decision-makers to understand the capabilities and limitations of each system before selecting one for their agency.

  • NIMS explains that situational awareness can be achieved by way of integrated communications, but diversifying the agencies to connect and share information it is not applicable.
  • To diversify the agencies to connect and sharing information to the agencies institutional and intelligence management is applicable.

This method is the third feature of NIMS management. NIMS has laid down these characteristics to obtain the optimum results for the organization in such a way that there is efficient communication in the management departments. Intelligence is used in the form of technology and applied to achieve the required and expected outputs.

What is NIMS command and coordination?

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NIMS CAN HELP ensure tactical activities, incident support mechanisms and communication efforts are coordinated and effective. Your organization’s Incident Command System (ICS) is a key feature of the National Incident Management System (NIMS); however, Command and Coordination (C&C) is not ICS.

Tactical activities to apply resources on-scene. Incident support, typically conducted at Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs), through operational and strategic coordination, resource acquisition and information gathering, and analysis and sharing. Policy guidance and senior-level decision-making. Outreach and communication with the media and public to keep them informed about the incident.

Local authorities handle most incidents using communications systems, dispatch centers and incident personnel within a single jurisdiction. Larger and more complex incidents may begin with a single jurisdiction but rapidly expand to multijurisdictional and/or multidisciplinary efforts requiring outside resources and support.

Multi-Agency Coordination (MAC) Groups, sometimes called policy groups, typically consist of agency administrators or executives from organizations or their designees. MAC Groups provide policy guidance to incident personnel, support resource prioritization and allocation, and enable decision making among elected and appointed officials and senior executives in other organizations as well as those directly responsible for incident management.

MAC Groups coordinate these 4 areas across the different NIMS functional groups: ICS, EOCs, MAC Groups and Joint Information Systems (JISs). The C&C component describes these MAC structures and explains how various elements operate at different levels of incident management and interface with one another.

What are the characteristics of the chain of command?

The Different Levels Of A Chain Of Command in Business – A chain of command structure typically consists of three distinct levels: top-level management (CEO, COO), middle-level management (director-level positions) and front-line staff (those who interact with customers and carry out day-to-day operations).

What is NIMS coordination?

Effective incident management consists of four overarching areas of responsibility:

Direct tactical response to save lives, stabilize the incident, and protect property and the environment Incident support through resource acquisition, information gathering, and interagency coordination Policy guidance and senior level decision making Outreach and communication with the media and public to keep them informed about the incident

These objectives are accomplished through the use of the Incident Command System (ICS), Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs), Multi-agency Coordination (MAC) Groups, and the Joint Information System (JIS), respectively. The Command and Coordination component of NIMS defines these structures and explains how various elements operating at different levels of incident management interface to achieve the maximum effect through a shared understanding.

What are the 5 components of ICS?

1.3.2 Incident Command System – The ICS provides guidance for how to organize assets to respond to an incident (system description) and processes to manage the response through its successive stages (concept of operations). All response assets are organized into five functional areas: Command, Operations, Planning, Logistics, and Administration/Finance. The ICS, as described in NIMS, refers to the combination of facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures, and communications operating within a common organizational structure and designed to aid in the management of resources during incident response.

  • Common terminology – use of similar terms and definitions for resource descriptions, organizational functions, and incident facilities across disciplines.
  • Integrated communications – ability to send and receive information within an organization, as well as externally to other disciplines.
  • Modular organization – response resources are organized according to their responsibilities. Assets within each functional unit may be expanded or contracted based on the requirements of the event.
  • Unified command structure – multiple disciplines work through their designated managers to establish common objectives and strategies to prevent conflict or duplication of effort.
  • Manageable span of control – response organization is structured so that each supervisory level oversees an appropriate number of assets (varies based on size and complexity of the event) so it can maintain effective supervision.
  • Consolidated action plans – a single, formal documentation of incident goals, objectives, and strategies defined by unified incident command.
  • Comprehensive resource management – systems in place to describe, maintain, identify, request, and track resources.
  • Pre-designated incident facilities – assignment of locations where expected critical incident-related functions will occur.

For ICS to be effective, the incident must be formally defined so that there is clarity and consistency as to what is being managed. This may be best accomplished by defining the incident response through delineation of response goals and objectives, and by explaining response parameters through an Incident Action Plan (IAP)—the primary documentation that is produced by the incident action planning process.

  1. Early in the response to the Pentagon on 9/11, incident command (headed by the Arlington County, VA, Fire Department) defined the incident as managing the fire suppression, building collapse, and the search and rescue activities at the Pentagon.
  2. It did not include objectives for managing the disruption of traffic or other countywide ramifications of the plane crash.

Arlington County emergency management officials, therefore, quickly knew they had to manage these other problems through their Emergency Operations Center (EOC), which was geographically separate from, but closely coordinated with, incident command at the Pentagon. When an incident generates demands on the response system, the issues addressed first are usually demands created by the hazard itself—hazard-generated demands. For example, in a highly contagious disease outbreak, hazard-generated demands include the need to evaluate and treat victims, while controlling the spread of the disease.

Simultaneously, the response system itself creates response-generated demands. In the same example, these demands include the need to coordinate disparate resources, to process widely dispersed data into accurate epidemiological information, to coordinate the public message, and to protect healthcare workers.

Too often, the response community focuses on the hazard demands and neglects response demands until the latter create a significant impediment to overall response effectiveness. With well-developed ICS and emergency management support, the incident response proactively addresses both types of demands and, in fact, reduces many response-generated demands to routine status.


  1. Appendix A highlights several critical assumptions that were made in developing the MSCC Management System.
  2. Appendix B describes the basic ICS for public health and medical personnel.
  3. Many of these procedures increase the efficiency of preparedness activities, while essentially training participants on the procedures to be used during response and recovery. Examples include the use of emergency notification procedures for disseminating preparedness information, the use of a management- by- objective approach when planning preparedness tasks, and using tightly managed meetings with detailed agendas.
  4. A function is a key set of tasks that must be performed during incident response. They are grouped according to similarity of purpose but are not positions, per se, because each could entail multiple persons working to fulfill that function.
  5. Key components of an incident action plan are presented in Appendix C,

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What are the 5 functions of ICS?

ICS Management Characteristics – Time and experience have shown the value of integrating highway incident response agencies into one operational organization, managed and supported by one command structure. In part, this experience is based on the successful use of key management concepts, adapted and applied to the discipline of highway incident response.

  1. ICS employs a common terminology to facilitate communication among diverse incident management and support entities working together across a variety of incident management functions and hazard scenarios.
  2. ICS requires that one or more individuals maintain authority over all incident activities, known as the Command function.

During minor highway incidents, which often involve just a police officer and a tow truck, the command structure is informal. A single person can typically perform the command function, called the Incident Commander. The formal use of ICS becomes more critical during major highway incidents, which involve multiple agencies (such as those shown in Exhibit 1-4).

Exhibit 1-4: Highway Incident Management Stakeholders and Associated Duties and Responsibilities

Stakeholder Duties and Responsibilities
Law enforcement

Secures incident scene Performs first responder duties Assists responders in accessing the incident scene Establishes emergency access routes Controls arrival and departure of incident responders

Polices perimeter of incident scene and impact area Conducts crash investigation Performs traffic control Assumes role of Incident Commander, if appropriate Supports unified command, as necessary

Fire and rescue

Protects incident scene Rescues/extricates victims Extinguishes fires Responds to and assesses incidents involving a hazardous materials release

Contains or mitigates a hazardous materials release Assumes role of Incident Commander, if appropriate Supports unified command, as necessary

Emergency medical services (EMS)

Provides medical treatment to those injured at the incident scene Determines destination and transportation requirements for injured victims

Transports victims for additional medical treatment Supports unified command, as necessary

Emergency management agency agency

Coordinates government response and resources Provides technical expertise Provides evacuation recommendations Facilitates communication and coordination across jurisdictions

Coordinates response from other State and Federal agencies Assumes role of Incident Commander, if appropriate Supports unified command, as necessary

Transportation agencies, including:

Highway maintenance Service patrols Traffic incident response teams Transportation management center (TMC)

Protects incident scene Implements traffic control strategies and provides supporting resources Monitors traffic operations Disseminates motorist information Mitigates incidental vehicle fluid spill confined to the roadway Assesses and directs incident clearance activities May perform first responder duties (service patrol)

Clears minor incident (service patrol) Performs incident detection and verification (service patrol/TMC) Develops and operates alternate routes Assesses and performs emergency roadwork and infrastructure repair Assumes role of Incident Commander, if appropriate Supports unified command, as necessary

Towing and recovery

Recovers vehicles and cargoes Removes disabled or wrecked vehicles and debris from incident scene

Mitigates non-hazardous material (cargo) spills Supports unified command, as necessary

Unified command refers to the application of ICS when there is more than one agency with incident jurisdiction or when incidents cross political jurisdictions. When a highway incident affects a single jurisdiction and requires the response and resources of a single agency, one ranking responder typically assumes single command,

However, when a highway incident affects multiple jurisdictions or results in jurisdictional authority by multiple agencies, unified command provides the opportunity for all agencies that have statutory authority for an incident to jointly participate in the development of the overall response strategy (e.g., law enforcement, fire services, and highway patrol).

Once command has been established, ICS establishes clear rules for the transfer of command to another individual or individuals. The ICS organization is characterized by an orderly line of authority, termed chain of command, The concept of unity of command means that every individual has one and only one designated supervisor to whom that individual reports at the incident scene.

These principles clarify reporting relationships and eliminate the confusion caused by multiple, conflicting directives. A key feature of ICS is the use of modular organization. This means that the individuals involved in the incident response are organized into units (termed sections, branches, divisions, groups, etc.).

Modular organization allows the response team to be structured in a way that is appropriate given its size and complexity. It also allows the organization to expand from the top down as incident complexity increases and functional responsibilities are delegated.

ICS establishes five functional areas for management of major incidents: command, operations, planning, logistics, and finance/administration. Span-of-control recommendations are followed closely, so the organizational structure is never larger than required. Large scale or complex incidents require use of a written Incident Action Plan,

An Incident Action Plan describes the overall strategy for managing an incident. It describes an organized course of events necessary to address all phases of incident control within a specific time. It may include the identification of operational resources and assignments, and attachments that provide direction and other important management information.

Comprehensive resource management helps to maintain an accurate and up-to-date picture of the use of personnel, teams, equipment, supplies, and facilities available or potentially available for assignment. An integrated communications approach develops and uses a common communications plan and interoperable communications processes.

This approach links the operational and support units of the various agencies involved in incident response and helps maintain communications connectivity and discipline.

How many levels are there in ICS?

Classification principles – The ICS uses an hierarchical classification, which consists of three nested levels called fields (Level 1), groups (Level 2) and sub-groups (Level 3). Each field is subdivided into groups, which are further divided into sub-groups,

All classification levels are designated by a classification code (called notation ) and a title. The notation is a set of Arabic numerals, Top-level items, which have no parent levels, use a two-digit notation, for example: 43 ROAD VEHICLE ENGINEERING The notations for groups and sub-groups include the parent-level notations.

The example below shows a notation for Sub-Group 20 (Level 3), which belongs to Group 040 (Level 2) in Field 43 (Level 1).43.040.20 Lighting, signaling and warning devices

What NIMS includes ICS?

Simple Introduction to SEMS/NIMS for Schools

Lesson 5: Overview

This lesson will introduce the Incident Command System (ICS) as an efficient way of managing special events. This lesson will discuss the ICS organizational structure, ICS positions, incident action planning, and command structures.


Lesson 5: Objectives

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

Define Incident Command System (ICS). Identify the five functional areas of ICS and identify which area is active at every special event and which areas are included only when needed. List four duties of an Incident Commander. Define Unified Command and give two examples of occasions when it should be used.


Homeland Security Presidential Directives

The following Presidential Directives are linked to national preparedness:

HSPD-5 identified steps for improved coordination in response to incidents. It requires 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). 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).



NIMS provides a systematic, proactive approach to guide departments and agencies at all levels of government, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector to work seamlessly to prevent, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate the effects of incidents, regardless of cause, size, location, or complexity, in order to reduce the loss of life and property and harm to the environment.




The NRF is a guide to how the Nation conducts all-hazards response – from the smallest incident to the largest catastrophe. This key document establishes a comprehensive, national, all-hazards approach to domestic incident response. The Framework identifies the key response principles, roles, and structures that organize national response. It describes how communities, States, the Federal Government, and private-sector and nongovernmental partners apply these principles for a coordinated, effective national response.



NIMS Components

NIMS is much more than just using the Incident Command System or an organization chart. NIMS is a consistent, nationwide, systematic approach that includes the following components:

Preparedness Communications and Information Management Resource Management Command and Management Ongoing Management and Maintenance

The components of NIMS were not designed to stand alone, but to work together.


NIMS Components

Preparedness Effective emergency management and incident response activities begin with a host of preparedness activities conducted on an ongoing basis, in advance of any potential incident. Preparedness involves an integrated combination of assessment; planning; procedures and protocols; training and exercises; personnel qualifications, licensure, and certification; equipment certification; and evaluation and revision. Communications and Information Management Emergency management and incident response activities rely on communications and information systems that provide a common operating picture to all command and coordination sites. NIMS describes the requirements necessary for a standardized framework for communications and emphasizes the need for a common operating picture. This component is based on the concepts of interoperability, reliability, scalability, and portability, as well as the resiliency and redundancy of communications and information systems. Resource Management Resources (such as personnel, equipment, or supplies) are needed to support critical incident objectives. The flow of resources must be fluid and adaptable to the requirements of the incident. NIMS defines standardized mechanisms and establishes the resource management process to identify requirements, order and acquire, mobilize, track and report, recover and demobilize, reimburse, and inventory resources. Command and Management The Command and Management component of NIMS is designed to enable effective and efficient incident management and coordination by providing a flexible, standardized incident management structure. The structure is based on three key organizational constructs: the Incident Command System, Multiagency Coordination Systems, and Public Information. Ongoing Management and Maintenance Within the auspices of Ongoing Management and Maintenance, there are two components: the National Integration Center (NIC) and Supporting Technologies.


Command and Management Elements

The NIMS Command and Management component facilitates incident management. This component includes the following elements: Incident Command System, Multiagency Coordination Systems, and Public Information.


What Is ICS?

Within the Command and Management component, the Incident Command System (ICS) provides a standardized approach to managing incidents and special events. ICS:

Is based on proven incident management practices. Defines incident response organizational concepts and structures. Consists of procedures for managing personnel, facilities, equipment, and communications. Is used throughout the lifecycle of an incident (e.g., from pre-incident planning to demobilization of resources).

It is highly recommended that you complete IS-100, Introduction to the Incident Command System.


ICS and Special Event Planning

As you learned in Lesson 2, planning for a special event should begin well in advance and include all stakeholders. With many agencies participating in an event, it is important to use a proven management system. Using ICS is an excellent means of determining how resources are going to be used, who will coordinate them, and how information will be communicated during a special event. ICS is designed to assist event planners in the areas of:

Resource management. Organization. Delegation of authority. Coordination. Communication. Evaluation.


Advantages of ICS

Using ICS to plan and manage a special event:

Allows the organization to adapt and expand if unanticipated situations occur during the event. Provides an opportunity to test protocols and procedures that could be used in a no-notice incident or emergency. Facilitates the decisionmaking and coordination among all stakeholders involved in the event. Often avoids duplication of efforts and reduces the cost of an event through better management of resources.


Optimizing Communication and Coordination

Using ICS optimizes communication and coordination, and facilitates the protection of life and property. ICS achieves these objectives by:

Establishing a standardized command structure for any event or incident. Using common terminology that ensures everyone will understand what is being said and how to acknowledge it properly.


ICS Features

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 Chain of Command and Unity of Command Unified Command Accountability Dispatch/Deployment Information and Intelligence Management

Common Terminology ICS establishes common terminology that allows diverse incident management and support organizations to work together across a wide variety of incident management functions and hazard scenarios. This common terminology covers the following:

Organizational Functions : Major functions and functional units with incident management responsibilities are named and defined. Terminology for the organizational elements is standard and consistent. Resource Descriptions : Major resources—including personnel, facilities, and major equipment and supply items—that support incident management activities are given common names and are “typed” with respect to their capabilities, to help avoid confusion and to enhance interoperability. Incident Facilities : Common terminology is used to designate the facilities in the vicinity of the incident area that will be used during the course of the incident.

Incident response communications (during exercises and actual incidents) should feature plain language commands so they will be able to function in a multijurisdictional environment. Field manuals and training should be revised to reflect the plain language standard.

  • Modular Organization The ICS organizational structure develops in a modular fashion based on the size and complexity of the incident, as well as the specifics of the hazard environment created by the incident.
  • When needed, separate functional elements can be established, each of which may be further subdivided to enhance internal organizational management and external coordination.

Responsibility for the establishment and expansion of the ICS modular organization ultimately rests with Incident Command, which bases the ICS organization on the requirements of the situation. As incident complexity increases, the organization expands from the top down as functional responsibilities are delegated.

Establishing overarching incident objectives. Developing strategies based on overarching incident objectives. Developing and issuing assignments, plans, procedures, and protocols. Establishing specific, measurable tactics or tasks for various incident management functional activities, and directing efforts to accomplish them, in support of defined strategies. Documenting results to measure performance and facilitate corrective actions.

Incident Action Planning Centralized, coordinated incident action planning should guide all response activities. An Incident Action Plan (IAP) provides a concise, coherent means of capturing and communicating the overall incident priorities, objectives, and strategies in the contexts of both operational and support activities.

Every incident must have an action plan. However, not all incidents require written plans. The need for written plans and attachments is based on the requirements of the incident and the decision of the Incident Commander or Unified Command. Most initial response operations are not captured with a formal IAP.

However, if an incident is likely to extend beyond one operational period, become more complex, or involve multiple jurisdictions and/or agencies, preparing a written IAP will become increasingly important to maintain effective, efficient, and safe operations.

Manageable Span of Control Span of control is key to effective and efficient incident management. Supervisors must be able to adequately supervise and control their subordinates, as well as communicate with and manage all resources under their supervision. In ICS, the span of control of any individual with incident management supervisory responsibility should range from 3 to 7 subordinates, with 5 being optimal.

During a large-scale law enforcement operation, 8 to 10 subordinates may be optimal. The type of incident, nature of the task, hazards and safety factors, and distances between personnel and resources all influence span-of-control considerations. Incident Facilities and Locations Various types of operational support facilities are established in the vicinity of an incident, depending on its size and complexity, to accomplish a variety of purposes.

The Incident Command will direct the identification and location of facilities based on the requirements of the situation. Typical designated facilities include Incident Command Posts, Bases, Camps, Staging Areas, mass casualty triage areas, point-of-distribution sites, and others as required. Comprehensive Resource Management Maintaining an accurate and up-to-date picture of resource utilization is a critical component of incident management and emergency response.

Resources to be identified in this way include personnel, teams, equipment, supplies, and facilities available or potentially available for assignment or allocation. Integrated Communications Incident communications are facilitated through the development and use of a common communications plan and interoperable communications processes and architectures.

  1. The ICS 205 form is available to assist in developing a common communications plan.
  2. This integrated approach links the operational and support units of the various agencies involved and is necessary to maintain communications connectivity and discipline and to enable common situational awareness and interaction.

Preparedness planning should address the equipment, systems, and protocols necessary to achieve integrated voice and data communications. Establishment and Transfer of Command The command function must be clearly established from the beginning of incident operations.

Chain of Command : Chain of command refers to the orderly line of authority within the ranks of the incident management organization. Unity of Command : Unity of command means that all individuals have a designated supervisor to whom they report at the scene of the incident.

These principles clarify reporting relationships and eliminate the confusion caused by multiple, conflicting directives. Incident managers at all levels must be able to direct the actions of all personnel under their supervision.

Unified Command In incidents involving multiple jurisdictions, a single jurisdiction with multiagency involvement, or multiple jurisdictions with multiagency involvement, Unified Command allows agencies with different legal, geographic, and functional authorities and responsibilities to work together effectively without affecting individual agency authority, responsibility, or accountability. Accountability Effective accountability of resources at all jurisdictional levels and within individual functional areas during incident operations is essential. Adherence to the following ICS principles and processes helps to ensure accountability:

Resource Check-In/Check-Out Procedures Incident Action Planning Unity of Command Personal Responsibility Span of Control Resource Tracking

Dispatch/Deployment Resources should respond only when requested or when dispatched by an appropriate authority through established resource management systems. Resources not requested must refrain from spontaneous deployment to avoid overburdening the recipient and compounding accountability challenges. Information and Intelligence Management The incident management organization must establish a process for gathering, analyzing, assessing, sharing, and managing incident-related information and intelligence.


Five Major Management Functions

There are five major management functions that are the foundation upon which an incident management organization develops. These functions apply to incidents of all sizes and types, including special events and emergencies that occur without warning.


Management Function Descriptions

Below is a brief description of the major incident management functions:
Sets the incident objectives, strategies, and priorities and has overall responsibility for the incident.




Conducts operations to reach the incident objectives. Establishes tactics and directs all operational resources.




Supports the incident action planning process by tracking resources, collecting/analyzing information, and maintaining documentation.




Arranges for resources and needed services to support achievement of the incident objectives.




Monitors costs related to the incident. Provides accounting, procurement, time recording, and cost analyses.



ICS Organization

In a special event, the Incident Commander may delegate any of the ICS functions by establishing Operations, Planning, Logistics, and Finance/Administration Sections.
Remember,, The Incident Commander only creates those Sections that are needed. If a Section is not staffed, the Incident Commander will personally manage those functions.



Incident Commander Responsibilities

The Incident Commander has overall responsibility for managing the entire incident. The Incident Command is responsible for:

Ensuring overall safety of the special event. Providing information services to internal and external stakeholders, such as the public, government partners, industry representatives, and other leaders. Establishing and maintaining liaison with other agencies participating in the incident.

The Incident Commander may appoint one or more Deputies. Deputy Incident Commanders must be as qualified as the Incident Commander





Command Staff

Depending upon the size and type of special event, the Incident Commander may designate personnel to provide information, safety, and liaison services. In ICS, the following personnel comprise the Command Staff:

Public Information Officer, who serves as the conduit for information to internal and external stakeholders, including the media, stakeholders, and the public. Safety Officer, who monitors safety conditions and develops measures for ensuring the safety of all event personnel. Liaison Officer, who serves as the primary contact for other agencies assisting at a special event.

The Command Staff reports directly to the Incident Commander.





Developing the Initial ICS Organization

The type, location, size, and expected duration of the event are key factors in developing the initial ICS organization. Answering the questions below will help event planners develop an organizational structure to meet the management needs of the event:

Does the event involve a single agency or multiple agencies? Does the event involve a single jurisdiction or multiple jurisdictions? What Command Staff needs exist? What kinds, types, and amounts of resources are required by the event? Are there any projected aviation operations? Are there any Staging Areas or other required facilities? What kind and type of logistical support needs are required by the event? Are there any known limitations or restrictions of local resources? What kind and type of communications resources are available?


Sample Organization for Special Event

Below is a sample organizational structure for a special event.



What Is a Multiagency Coordination System?

A Multiagency Coordination System is not simply a physical location or facility. Rather, the MAC System:

Defines business practices, standard operating procedures, and protocols by which participating agencies will coordinate their interactions. Provides support, coordination, and assistance with policy-level decisions to the ICS structure managing an incident.

Cooperating agencies and organizations may develop a MAC System to better define how they will work together and to work together more efficiently.





Big Picture Coordination”—Multiagency Coordination Systems

Multiagency Coordination Systems are a combination of resources that are integrated into a common framework for coordinating and supporting domestic incident management activities. These resources may include:

Facilities. Equipment. Personnel. Procedures. Communications.


Multiagency Coordination Systems Primary Functions

The primary functions of Multiagency Coordination Systems are to:

Support event or incident management policies and priorities. Facilitate logistics support and resource tracking. Make resource allocation decisions based on incident management priorities. Coordinate incident-related information. Coordinate interagency and intergovernmental issues regarding incident management policies, priorities, and strategies. Direct tactical and operational responsibility for the conduct of incident management activities rests with the on-scene Incident Command.


MAC System Elements: Overview

Common coordination elements may include:

Dispatch Center Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Department Operations Center (DOC) Multiagency Coordination (MAC) Group

The next screens provide additional information on common MAC System elements.


Multiagency Coordination System Elements

Dispatch Center: A Dispatch Center coordinates the acquisition, mobilization, and movement of resources as ordered by the Incident Command/Unified Command. Emergency Operations Center (EOC): During an escalating incident, an EOC supports the on-scene response by relieving the burden of external coordination and securing additional resources. EOC core functions include coordination; communications; resource allocation and tracking; and information collection, analysis, and dissemination. EOCs may be staffed by personnel representing multiple jurisdictions and functional disciplines and a wide variety of resources. Department Operations Center (DOC): A DOC coordinates an internal agency incident management and response. A DOC is linked to and, in most cases, physically represented in the EOC by authorized agent(s) for the department or agency. Multiagency Coordination (MAC) Group: A MAC Group is comprised of administrators/executives, or their designees, who are authorized to represent or commit agency resources and funds. MAC Groups may also be known as multiagency committees or emergency management committees. A MAC Group does not have any direct incident involvement and will often be located some distance from the incident site(s) or may even function virtually. A MAC Group may require a support organization for its own logistics and documentation needs; to manage incident-related decision support information such as tracking critical resources, situation status, and intelligence or investigative information; and to provide public information to the news media and public. The number and skills of its personnel will vary by incident complexity, activity levels, needs of the MAC Group, and other factors identified through agreements or by preparedness organizations. A MAC Group may be established at any level (e.g., national, State, or local) or within any discipline (e.g., emergency management, public health, critical infrastructure, or private sector).


Emergency Operations Centers

Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs) represent the physical location where the coordination of information and resources for onsite event management takes place. For complex events, EOCs may be staffed by personnel representing multiple jurisdictions and disciplines and a wide variety of resources. The size, staffing, and equipping of an EOC will depend on the size of the jurisdiction, resources available, and anticipated workload.


Public Information Principles

Systems and protocols for communicating timely and accurate information to the public are critical during large-scale special events or emergency situations. Public information must be coordinated and integrated across:

Jurisdictions. Functional agencies. Federal, State, tribal, and local partners. Private-sector and nongovernmental organizations. The promoter or sponsor.

During special events or emergencies, the public may receive information from a variety of sources. The Public Information Officer (PIO) is responsible for establishing the systems and protocols required to meet the public’s need for information.


Public Information Systems

The PIO handles:

Media and public inquiries. Emergency public information and warnings. Rumor monitoring and response. Media monitoring and other functions required to coordinate, clear with appropriate authorities, and disseminate accurate and timely information related to the event or incident.

The PIO also coordinates public information at or near the incident site and serves as the on-scene link to the Joint Information Center (JIC). The JIC will be addressed on the next screens.


Joint Information System

The Joint Information System (JIS):

Provides the mechanism to organize, integrate, and coordinate information to ensure timely, accurate, accessible, and consistent messaging across multiple jurisdictions and/or disciplines with nongovernmental organizations and the private sector. Includes the plans, protocols, procedures, and structures used to provide public information.

Federal, State, tribal, territorial, regional, or local Public Information Officers and established Joint Information Centers (JICs) are critical supporting elements of the JIS.


Joint Information Center

The Joint Information Center (JIC) is:

A central location that facilitates operation of the Joint Information System. A location where personnel with public information responsibilities perform critical emergency information functions, crisis communications, and public affairs functions.

JICs may be established at various levels of government or at incident sites, or can be components of Multiagency Coordination Systems (e.g., MAC Groups or EOCs). A single JIC location is preferable, but the system is flexible and adaptable enough to accommodate virtual or multiple JIC locations, as required.


Additional Resources

The NIMS Resource Center provides additional information, updates, and resources. The center can be accessed at,


Lesson Summary

This lesson introduced ICS as an efficient way to plan for and manage special events. This lesson reviewed the ICS features, management functions, and key organizational elements. Additional information about ICS can be found in the IS-100 course. The next lesson will outline the special planning considerations required when hosting high-risk special events.


What part of the NIMS is the ICS?

Under NIMS, the State Operational Center (SOC) organizational structure reflects basic Incident Command System (ICS) functions. However, ICS is a field-based tactical communications system, whereas NIMS provides a system for managing the event at the local, operational area, region and state levels.

What are the 4 types of standardized communications?

Interoperable—able to communicate within and across agencies and jurisdictions. Reliable—able to function in the context of any kind of emergency. Portable—built on standardized radio technologies, protocols, and frequencies. Scalable—suitable for use on a small or large scale as the needs of the incident dictate.

What are the 4 components of NIMS?

NIMS Components Command and management. Preparedness. Resource management. Communications and information management.

Is 700 the three NIMS guiding principles are?

To achieve these priorities, incident management personnel use NIMS components in accordance with three NIMS guiding principles: Flexibility. Standardization. Unity of Effort.

What does NIMS include?

The NIMS utilizes ICS as a standard incident management organization for the management of all major incidents. These functional areas include command, operations, planning, logistics and finance/administration.