ICS Definitions
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Within the Incident Command System (ICS) there are many designations that not all ARES people understand. The purpose of this web page is to collect those designations and related terms in one place and present their definitions. 

Area Command

Setup when an event requires multiple Incident Commanders. The Area Command coordinates local, state and federal organizations. 


"Two or more individual incidents located in the same general proximity which are assigned to a single Incident Commander or Unified Command to facilitate management"

May be with or without Area Command. 

MACS Modes

Multi-Agency Coordination System (MACS) mode numbers 
A numeric classification system of Mode 1 to Mode 4, with 4 being the most severe, is used to quickly describe an incident and predetermine the necessary dispatch and support actions. The size and complexity of each incident determines its mode class. The Incident Commander (IC) has responsibility for identifying each incident's mode. The IC ensures the mode is communicated to all assisting agencies.
  • Mode 1 - Routine Operation Routine emergency response. (If any emergency can be called routine - pl) No significant impact on local resources. No alerting of backup elements is necessary. May involve only one agency but may also require minimum cooperation or support from other response agencies.
  • Mode 2 - Mutual Aid Resources An emergency which exceeds the capabilities of initial on-scene personnel and equipment, involves multiple response agencies and requires mutual aid support.
  • Mode 3 - County Resources Magnitude of the incident exceeds the capabilities of routinely available mutual aid and requires full mobilization of county resources.
  • Mode 4 - Province and Federal Assistance Situation exceeds available county resources and requires substantial mobilization of out-of-county, Province and/or Federal resources. 

Resource Kinds

The kind of resource describes what the resource is, e.g. Patrol Vehicle, Helicopter, Fire Engine, Plow, etc. 

Resource Types

In referring to response capabilities, an Incident Type 1 resource possesses the highest response performance. Type 4 possesses the lowest response capability. Types are used to classify resources based on size, capability and other factors. (i.e. the reverse of the mode designation magnitudes - pl) 

Resource Status

All tactical resources at an incident will be in one of three status conditions.
  1. Assigned - Resources working on a tactical assignment under the direction of a supervisor
  2. Available - Resources ready for deployment.
  3. Out-of-Service - Resources that are not ready for available or assigned status (all not in A or B above). 

  4. Reasons for being out-of-service can include: 
    • Equipment service required
    • Rest (personnel)
    • Staffing (insufficient personnel to operate the equipment)
    • Environmental (darkness or weather)

Staging Areas

A Staging Area is a temporary location at (yes, the ICS manual says AT) an incident where personnel and equipment are kept while awaiting tactical assignment. In all cases, equipment and resources (people) in a staging area are always in or on available status. That is to say, ready to go out on assignment within three minutes.

There may be multiple Staging Areas assigned for specific needs. For example: Medical, Fire, Police, etc. Each staging area should have different access routes for incoming and outgoing resources. Each staging area must be located out of any possible line of direct hazard effects, to minimize risk to resources. Staging Areas should be large enough to accommodate anticipated resources and have room for growth. 


Camps are temporary locations within the general incident area, which are equipped and staffed to provide sleeping, food, water and sanitary services for incident personnel. 

ARES Liaison to Served Agencies

The ARES to Served Agency liaison must be fully authorized to represent their group. That is to say they must be authorized to make decisions and commitments on behalf of their organization. 

Communication Support Persons

From the ICS-400 Guide, the number of people to support specified numbers of communication locations. Please note that the ICS terms have been changed to reflect ARES equivalents (Dispatcher to NCS, etc.).

Amateur Radio Incident Communication Leader = 1
Amateur Radio Incident Staffing Leader = 1 

ARES  Designation 2 5 10 15 25
Net Control Station(s)
Message Center Operator(s) .
Runner(s) .
Extra Operator(s) .