Section III-1

Incident Command System

Purpose:  To establish general guidelines for the implementation of the Incident Command System (ICS) at all emergency calls regardless of complexity.

Scope:  All Three Star Fire Department personnel shall complete National Incident Management System (NIMS) during their indoctrination.  All personnel shall be certified in IS 700, ICS 100 and ICS 200 before obtaining active firefighter status. Officers are required to complete IS 800, ICS 300 and ICS 400, in addition to IS 700, ICS 100 and ICS 200.

The incident command system, hereafter referred to as ICS, is designed to provide guidelines and concepts to manage in an efficient manner.  The ICS will improve firefighter safety by providing better accountability of personnel and improved use of resources and tactical effectiveness. 

The existence of these written guidelines is not intended to limit any member in the exercise of judgment or initiative in taking the action a reasonable person would take in extraordinary situations that may arise in the fire service.  Much by necessity must be left to the training, experience, initiative, integrity, and discretion of the members of the Three Star Fire Department.


It is the responsibility of the initial Incident Commander, regardless of their rank, to implement the necessary ICS functions as determined by the specific incident.  As the command function is transferred to succeeding officers, further expansion of the ICS should take place.  Prior to command being transferred, the Incident Commander must be thoroughly briefed as to the status of the entire operation underway

The ICS is the official policy for the management of all incidents and the development of standard operating guidelines.  This Department will implement the system at all incidents for which it has management responsibility.

The ICS has several characteristics or components.  These components interact to create a system that ensures optimum information management and control under normal or crisis conditions.  The characteristics are:

1.      Common Terminology insures that all personnel are able to communicate effectively.  The more simple the message, the more effective communications will be.

2.      Manageable Span of Control is most effective when management responsibility of personnel ranges from three to seven, with five being ideal.

3.      Modular Organization means that ICS organization levels evolve based on the type and complexity of the incident.  A routine incident will have a simple structure.  A complex incident will require a larger organizational structure.  Incident Commanders are responsible for the performance of the six main functions within the ICS.  The functions are Command, Planning, Operations, Staging, Logistics, and Finance.  If any function is not delegated it remains the responsibility of the Incident Commander.

4.      Integrated Communications is managed through the use of a communications plan.  In incidents involving only the Three Star Fire Department, then two operating radio channels are likely to be utilized:  Three Star Channel 3 will be the working frequency and the Incident Commander will monitor County Fire Channel 1 on the handheld.  When mutual aid fire departments and police agencies are involved, however, the communication plans must be made adaptable and adjusted appropriately (Section III-14).

5.      Unified Command is a means of organizing different agencies that have legal authority and responsibility at large scale incidents, into one coordinated and controlled effort.  It is designed to minimize "turf battles"  and promote close working relationships among different departments.  Instead of several different command posts operating independently, the operation is directed from one command post.

6.      Designated Incident Facilities is an area that is established to serve a particular purpose, i.e. Command Post, Staging etc.

Six Incident Command System Functions

Command:  The functional authority the IC exercises over subordinates.  It includes the responsibility for effectively using resources to accomplish strategy.  It is the function through which all the incident activities are directed, coordinated and controlled to accomplish the mission.  It encompasses the personnel, equipment, communications, facilities and guidelines to plan for what has to be done, issue orders and supervise the execution of operations.  At all incidents Command conducts size up, develops strategy and is responsible for its outcome.  The IC retains responsibility for Command and the performance of any functions or areas in the system that is not delegated.  As the incident expands or becomes more complex, then the IC must delegate authority for performance of functions to other individuals.  The IC has the option of implementing Command Staff, i.e. Safety Officer, Operations Officer and Information Officer.

Planning:  The function responsible for gathering, evaluating and disseminating information about the incident and status of resources.  It prepares alternate strategies and objectives to control the incident.

Operations:  The function of managing all the tactical operations at the incident to accomplish the primary mission and plan of the Incident Commander.  Operations are broken down into several functions and will fix personnel accountability, Teams, Sectors, and Groups.  It is recommended and encourage for the Incident Commander to designate Operations Officer to next ranking officer at the scene.

Staging:  A specific area to which resources are assigned before deployment.  It gives the IC breathing room to make better decisions.  It is a checkpoint to provide accountability and prevent freelancing.  It provides an area of protection from exposure in hazardous environments.  It establishes a reserve immediately available for a contingency.

Logistics:  The function that provides the resources such as supplies, services and facilities needed to support the incident, Medical, Facilities, Food, and any other Special Units.

Finance:  The function responsible for financial cost recording for the incident operations.  Practice and experience using the ICS and its components will determine the level of professionalism, safety and efficiency achieved in emergency operations by this Department.  If personnel have any questions or request clarification on the ICS, ask Company Officers.