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by John Freeman, KB8ZDX

Based on

"Introduction to the Incident Command System"

by Chief Bill Miller, Gaines Township Fire Department, Flint, MI


This outline is intended to provide a learning and teaching tool to the Amateur Radio Community pertaining to the Incident Command System that is being used by various governmental agencies.


by John Freeman, KB8ZDX

The Incident Command System is being used more and more by the various agencies served by the Amateur Radio Community and this makes it very necessary for this subject to become a part of the educational program being developed.

We, as Amateur Radio Operators, must realize that there are times when we have to adapt to a total different structure, or chain of command, than we are used to. When faced with this change, we must remember that we are there to serve, not to try to change the way things are being done or to make decisions of a command nature. We must continue to run our nets as we have learned to do and continue to conduct ourselves in a professional manner. Please remember that we are AMATEURS only in the sense that we are not paid for our services

There will come a time when you will encounter this mysterious thing called "Incident Command System", in fact you may already have and didn't know what it was or what its purpose is. The next time you run into it, or hear someone talking about it, you will be better prepared to work with it and will understand how and why it works.

I. Need For A Management System

Successful organizations require dedication and professional management on the part of those responsible for its achievements. In football, the coach puts together the game plan rather than each player deciding where they run or who they block. Emergencies require that an Incident Commander determine how to utilize the various skills and expertise levels that will be present at an emergency.


II. Elements of an Effective Incident Management System (IMS)

III. ICS as a Management System

IV. History of ICS

V. Development of Regulations and Standards

VI. Using ICS Effectively

ICS is designed to allow for delegation of responsibilities and create subordinate positions to maintain equality of control. Like a toolbox, if you are changing the spark plugs in your car, you only use the tools necessary to do the job, but the rest of the tools are still there and available when needed. In ICS, the same is true, you only use the tools or organizations needed to get the job done, with the rest waiting in case they are needed.

VII. Five ICS Functional Areas

These are General Staff positions. When assigned, Operations, Planning, Logistics, and Finance report directly to Command.

VIII. Command Staff Positions:

These positions are designed to provide aid and assistance to the IC to fulfill responsibilities associated with managing the incident. They handle key incident activities that enable the IC to concentrate on managing the incident. Command Staff are not part of the line organization.

IX. Staging

The location where resources are held until given an assignment.

X. Incident Commander's Role:

The IC must assume command, establish the strategy and tactics needed to control the incident and must delegate responsibilities.

XI. Divisions and Groups

XII. Summary

Incident Command System is a management system that uses proven Management principles. It provides the "tools" an Incident Commander needs to be an effective manager and to protect personnel safety. ICS can be used at the largest or smallest incident, which makes it even more valuable.

The key to any system is how well it is understood by those who have to use it and how it is utilized. For ICS to be effective, all parties involved must understand how it works and how you fit into the picture and what your responsibilities are.



1. ICS is short for

2. IMS is short for

3. An important element of IMS is

4. ICS provides for Span of Control

5. ICS can only be used during "The Big One"

6. ICS provides for the safety of personnel

7. FIRESCOPE was founded in Southern Colorado in the early 1970's

8. OSHA has nothing to do with ICS

9. EPA has adopted regulations that impose the same requirements in non-OSHA states

10. If you compare ICS to a toolbox, you would use the largest screwdriver on the smallest screw

11. The five major functional areas of ICS are

12. The Planning function forecasts the probable course of events the incident may take

13. Logistics can be described as "The Supply Sergeant"

14. Command Staff are part of the line organization

15. The Safety Officer reports to the media

16. The Liaison Officer should meet with the Agency Representatives

17. The Agency Representative can be anyone who happens to be available

18. Staging is practicing for "The Big One"

19. Staging is the location where resources report until given an assignment

20. The Staging Area makes it harder to keep track of resources

21. The Staging Area Manager

22. A Division is responsible for a specific geographical area

23. A Group is responsible for a specific incident or site

24. A Group Supervisor is the individual who manages a Group and reports to the IC

25. Many agencies and jurisdictions across the country have found that ICS does not always work

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 1999-2013 § About (Notes, Credits)