Eastern Mass ARRL

ICS NIMS for Field Day Planning

Bill Ricker, N1VUX (formerly EC & DEC Boston; editor EMA FD Directory)

Originally written for FD2000, updated for FD2005 & FD2008

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EMA FD History 1999-2016 § About (Notes, Credits)

The Incident Command System National Incident Management System (ICS NIMS)
not just for Disasters any more — not just for Command any more

Many of the "served agencies" in our ARES work will be trained in, and use during emergencies, a common jargon and organizational structure called "NIMS" (or NIIMS; formerly called ICS). This is an outgrowth of experiences in California wildfire management, where firefighters and other emergency personnel from various agencies regularly have to work together in different groupings than they've drilled. Use of ICS NIMS is now mandatory on all Fire departments and HazMat operations (including private sector!) has been adopted by FEMA and MEMA and increasing numbers of local Emergency Management Agencies (EMA's).

Standard Wildfire / Firefighting / Disaster ICS NIMS structure, from FEMA standards

ICS NIMS has been used for planning in advance and execution of non-emergency events. For instance, according to the FEMA trainer, Fidelity (the major Boston investment house) planned and executed it's annual employee Christmas party (a pretty big event) using ICS NIMS (which was a major success, and validated their use of ICS NIMS for both business and environmental emergencies).

Incidents/Events that can Utilize the NIMS Incident Command System

It will be easier for us to provide communications support to served-agencies' operations if we are comfortable with their jargons and drills too. Indeed, demonstrated familiarity with their procedures and jargon may be necessary to get the foot in the door in some situations.
Training in ICS NIMS is available through FEMA/MEMA, on the WWW, private-sector commercial training, and (unofficially) via ARES.

[ Resources ]

ICS NIMS and Field Day Planning

Most clubs have a usual committee structure for their Field Day planning. The people planning and the people doing on Field Day are probably the same people -- and are exhausted by the time to clean up and prepare the logs for transmission. Most clubs' usual committee structures are probably -- due to the structures of common sense -- similar to the ICS NIMS-inspired structure proposed below. Some clubs may even already have assigned clean-up/demobilization/after-FD roles, which are so useful to avoid volunteer burn-out. The major advantages predicted for using ICS NIMS titles for your FD committees are (a) practice with the served-agency jargon; (b) emphasis on staffing by specific responsibility and in shifts; (c) remembering to plan and recruit for take-down and follow-up as well as the more glamorous set-up and operations.

A ICS NIMS Structure for Field Day Planning & Operations

The following is offered as a customizable template, not a carved-in-stone one-true-way. Clubs should do what feels natural, don't wreck your Field Day! But if they can migrate towards using ICS NIMS terminology and structures in their major events such as Field Day and PSE's (public service events), they'll be better positioned to provide communications to events and emergency agencies using the ICS NIMS. So feel free to edit the heck out this for your club, adjusting for how your club is comfortable dividing responsibility.

You don't need a large bureaucracy to do this ... One tenet of ICS NIMS is that several conceptual levels of hierarchy can be internalized into one person. The person responsible for a function splits out only the sub-roles that need delegating: but the ICS NIMS Names for the Roles let him/her quickly communicate to the various delegates who is doing what and make sure nothing is forgotten.

ICS NIMS for Field Day

Contest Chief & Shift Supervisors

The Contest Chief may have Shift Supervisors to spell him/her on the Line. They should ensure operations conform to FCC and contest regulations, to protect the club's score & reputation and the license trustee. The Contest Chief or Shift Supervisor is responsible for seeing that there is a Control Operator of appropriate license grade supervising each station in use.
One particular concern for contest regulations to monitor is ensuring that the number of transmitters in use never exceeds the number permitted by the contest class, including ensuring that no two transmitters are under the same exemption at once. Some clubs have used physical Tokens for each counted and exempted transmitter, others expect active coordination with the Chief/Supervisor; others may fudge but that is not appropriate in a ICS NIMS operation! [comments]

Station Leader works with Planning/Resource-Recruiting to schedule operators & loggers; with Logistics to acquire (and return!) the equipment; and likely with the Contest Chief & Shift Supervisors during Operations.


Reading through the online documentation and training on ICS NIMS and using an ICS NIMS inspired committee structure is only the beginning. Please do not claim your Field Day was 100% ICS NIMS compliant just because you use the above outline as a committee template. This will set rather higher expectations in your local Emergency Management Agency than you would be ready to fill, unless all your Section and Branch chiefs have already been through FEMA-approved intermediate ICS NIMS training, in which case you're better prepared to write this memo than I! However, if the Field Day chair and one or more Section Chiefs (particularly Planning section chief if separate) had attended IS-100, the introductory ICS NIMS training workshop, or worked through the online equivalent materials, others have seen the A.R.E.A. ICS NIMS course, and others were signing up for the next ICS NIMS offerings, you'd be well on your way.

Incident Command System Resources


ICS NIMS for Information Technology
Incident Command for IT:
What We Can Learn from the Fire Department
Brent Chapman, Great Circle Associates, Inc.

Listen in MP3 format
View the presentation slides

"Have you ever wondered how fire departments organize themselves on the fly to deal with a major incident? How they quickly and effectively coordinate the efforts of multiple agencies? How they evolve the organization as the incident changes in scope, scale, or focus? They accomplish all this by using the Incident Command System (ICS NIMS), a standardized organizational structure and set of operating principles adopted by most emergency agencies nationwide. In this talk, Brent will introduce the concepts and principles of ICS NIMS, and discuss how these can be applied to IT events, such as security incidents and service outages."

[USENIX LISA-05 conference]

by Chief Bill Miller. Gaines Township Fire Department, Flint, MI.
ICS Incident Command System for Amateur Radio [Now archived here]
ICS for AR Training Manual [Now archived here]
[Previously published by A.R.E.A. Amateur Radio Training Packages  formerly at www.area-ham.org
AREA was a good general Amateur Radio Education site, as their name indicates, sadly gone.
I've archived these two documents; since they blocked IA Archiver in their robots.txt, the rest of the AREA archive is lost.
ICS NIMS in action
ARRL Letter reports Hams working within ICS NIMS
FEMA Classes
FEMA - IS-195 Basic Incident Command System - Independent Study
Basic Incident Command System, IS-195. The Incident Command System (ICS NIMS) is recognized as an effective system for managing emergencies. Several States... [200 sequence equivalent]
"If you plan to use the course materials which are available on-line, you do not need to enroll at this time. You will enroll when you take the final exam."
FEMA offers on-line courses: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers a series of self-taught courses that might be of interest to amateurs involved in public service disaster response. Course titles include Emergency Program Manager: An Orientation to the Position; Emergency Preparedness, USA; Radiological Emergency Management; Hazardous Materials: A Citizen's Orientation; A Citizen's Guide to Disaster Assistance; and Basic Incident Command System. Course materials are provided as Adobe Acrobat PDF files.
WildLandFire: THE ICS publisher's Homepage
Incident Command System
ICS NIMS Documentation: Documents and Forms used to define and implement ICS NIMS
ICS NIMS Training Curriculum - online Powerpoint presentation covering modules 2 thru 17 [as HTML slides]
Training Modules
Emergency Management Division - Incident Command System Training
The British Columbia Emergency Response Management System (BCERMS) The BC government, through its Interagency... Courses available by credit card?
Local Emergency Planning Committee, LEPC, Incident Command System, ICS NIMS
A Framework for Basic Emergency Plans with Functional Annexes using SLG 101 Guidelines
SAR:Search and Rescue
SARBC Search and Rescue Society of British Columbia - Search and Rescue Society of British Columbia Home Page
Has excellent resources! SARBC - Incident Command System Includes online forms.

National Association for Search and Rescue.

Mandates -- some with materials
Standards & Directives mandating ICS NIMS
CPL 2-2.59A - Inspection Procedures for the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard
OSHA 3152 - Hospitals and Community Emergency Response -- What You Need to Know.
Incident Command System [NYSEMO] New York State Emergency Management Office, Explanation of statewide ICS NIMS.
Massachussets Multiple Casualty Incidents/Triage State Protocols
APPENDIX L. MULTIPLE CASUALTY INCIDENTS / TRIAGE. Each MCI/Disaster scene presents its own unique hazards and difficulties.

On the Civil Service reading list for multiple exams.

Course Schedule: Incident Safety Officer This course examines the Safety Officer's role at emergency response situations. A specific focus on operations within an Incident Command System (ICS NIMS) as a Safety Officer is a main theme.
Dept. of Homeland Security NIIMS
NIIMS, National Interagency Incident Management System (NIIMS) based Incident Command System (ICS NIMS) is part of DHS's plan for Emergency & Disaster Response and Recovery

Other Federal ICS/NIMS/NIIMS mandates related to DHS: USCG) DMAT

Pages in FD web: EMA FD Home! § Directory! § Site List § Tour Plans
§ FD and ICS/NIMS ! § FD Planning,Rules, Scoring, & ARES § Safety: Safety Officer, Lightning, Heat, Resources!
EMA FD History 1999-2016 § About (Notes, Credits)