NIMS Integration Center Discusses NIMS Incident Command System (ICS) In New Paper Available Online

Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Incident Management System (NIMS) Integration Center have issued a paper on NIMS and the Incident Command System. The paper, "NIMS and the Incident Management System," reviews the development of the various versions of the ICS and discusses the characteristics of the NIMS ICS as the "standardized incident organizational structure for the management of all [domestic] incidents."

"The National Incident Management System incorporates best practices that have been developed over the years and one of the most valuable of these practices is the Incident Command System," said Michael D. Brown, Under Secretary for Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response.

The ICS provides a common organizational structure for the immediate response to emergencies and involves the coordination of personnel and equipment on-site at an incident. One of the FY 2005 NIMS implementation requirements is that federal, state, local and tribal governments institutionalize the use of ICS across their entire response systems. Although many agencies now use various forms of ICS, the intent of this paper is to explain how these systems can be integrated into a common ICS system as taught by DHS.

"While the principles and concepts of the NIMS ICS are the same as the FIRESCOPE and NIMS ICS, it's important to note that the NIMS ICS pulls the most effective elements from the range of existing incident command systems," said Gil Jamieson, Acting Director of the NIMS Integration Center. "From this point forward, there will be one single ICS - the NIMS ICS."

The concept for an incident command system was developed in the aftermath of a devastating wild fire in California in 1970. The FIRESCOPE (Firefighting Resources of California Organized for Potential Emergencies) ICS was the result of that effort.

Although FIRESCOPE ICS was developed for wildland fire response, many in the incident management community recognized that it could be used by other public safety responders for a wide range of situations including hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters as well as hazardous materials accidents. In 1982, as a result of collaboration between FIRESCOPE and the National Wildfire Coordinating Group to establish a national application for ICS, all FIRESCOPE ICS documentation was revised and adopted as the National Interagency Incident Management System (NIMS).

The paper may be downloaded from the NIMS Web page at www.fema.gov/nims.

Questions about the issues raised may be e-mailed to the NIMS-Integration-Center@dhs.gov. NIMS Integration Center also may be contacted by calling 202-646-3850.

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