Incident Command System (ICS)
The Incident Command System (ICS) is a standardised approach to the command, control, and coordination of all-hazard emergency responses. This system provides a common hierarchy within which responders from multiple agencies can be effective and efficient. This system is also applicable to events other than emergencies i.e. like setting up a conference or running an event.
ICS was initially developed in the late 1970’s to address problems of inter-agency responses to wildfires in California in the United States of America but is now a component of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) in the US, where it has evolved into use in All-Hazards situations, ranging from active shootings to HazMat scenes. In addition, ICS has acted as a pattern for similar approaches internationally. It has now been rolled out to many other countries around the world, including South Africa, where we are now in the process of formalising our approach to the use of ICS as a standard for all incident management.
These Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and International Fire Services Accreditation Congress (IFSAC) accredited ICS courses meet the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards. The South African Emergency Services Institute (SAESI) is currently the South African Accreditation body for a range of ICS and ICS related courses. South African Incident Command System workgroup (SA-ICS) has further endorsed NCC in offering ICS and related wildland firefighting training courses.
PLEASE NOTE: Many of the courses listed, are offered online directly via the FEMA or the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG), and is purely based on the United States ICS range of courses. These courses are recognised internationally and if you want to become a professional wildland firefighter, then your training must include ICS. This is where we at NCC can assist and guide you. For the contact session, either the blended courses (part online and part contact sessions) as well as the full contact sessions, the courses have been made relevant to the South African circumstances, without losing the international standards.
Incident Command System (ICS)
The ICS structure is built around five major management activities or functional areas:
- COMMAND (Incident Commander) – sets priorities and objectives and is responsible for overall command of the incident.
- OPERATIONS (Section Chief) – has responsibility for all tactical operations necessary to carry out the plan.
- PLANNING (Section Chief) – responsible for the collection, evaluation, and dissemination of information concerning incident development as well as the status of all available resources.
- LOGISTICS (Section Chief) – responsible for providing the necessary support (facilities, services, and materials) to meet incident needs.
- FINANCE & ADMINISTRATION (Section Chief) – responsible for monitoring and documenting all costs. Provides the necessary financial support related to the incident.
These five functional areas form the foundation of the ICS organisational structure. The activities can be managed by one individual in the event of a small incident, or a fully staffed ICS structure, addressing all five functional areas, may be needed to manage larger or more complex events.
ICS TRAINING PROGRAM
As illustrated below, the NIMS Training Program identifies those courses critical to train personnel capable of implementing all functions of emergency management. This program establishes the NIMS core curriculum to ensure it adequately trains emergency and incident response personnel to all concepts and principles of each NIMS component.