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terms are copied from the Incident Command System (ICS)
Curriculum documentation, October, 1994
(See Incident Action Plan.)
An agency is a division of government with a specific function, or a non-governmental
organization (e.g., private contractor, business, etc.) that offers a particular
kind of assistance. In ICS, agencies are defined as jurisdictional (having
statutory responsibility for incident mitigation) or assisting and/or cooperating
(providing resources and/or assistance). (See Assisting Agency, Cooperating
Agency, and Multi-agency.)
OR ADMINISTRATOR: Chief executive officer (or designee) of the agency
or jurisdiction that has responsibility for the incident.
The agency or jurisdictional facility from which resources are allocated
An individual assigned to an incident from an assisting or cooperating
agency who has been delegated authority to make decisions on matters affecting
that agency's participation at the incident. Agency Representatives report
to the Incident Liaison Officer.
BRANCH DIRECTOR: The person primarily responsible for preparing and
implementing the air operations portion of the Incident Action Plan. Also
responsible for providing logistical support to helicopters operating on
RESOURCES: Resources dispatched to an incident.
An organization established to: 1) oversee the management of multiple incidents
that are each being handled by an Incident Command System organization;
or 2) to oversee the management of a very large incident that has multiple
Incident Management Teams assigned to it. Area Command has the responsibility
to set overall strategy and priorities, allocate critical resources based
on priorities, ensure that incidents are properly managed, and ensure that
objectives are met and strategies followed.
RESOURCES: Resources checked in and assigned work tasks on an incident.
Tasks given to resources to perform within a given operational period,
based upon tactical objectives in the Incident Action Plan.
Title for subordinates of the Command Staff positions. The title indicates
a level of technical capability, qualifications, and responsibility subordinate
to the primary positions. Assistants may also be used to supervise unit
activities at camps.
AGENCY: An agency directly contributing tactical or service resources
to another agency.
RESOURCES: Incident-based resources which are ready for deployment.
location at which primary logistics functions for an incident are coordinated
and administered. There is only one Base per incident. (Incident name or
other designator will be added to the term Base.) The Incident Command
Post may be collocated with the Base.
The organizational level having functional or geographic responsibility
for major parts of incident operations. The Branch level is organizationally
between Section and Division/Group in the Operations Section, and between
Section and Units in the Logistics Section. Branches are identified by
the use of Roman Numerals or by functional name (e.g., medical, security,
A pre-determined complement of tools, equipment, and/or supplies stored
in a designated location, available for incident use.
A geographical site, within the general incident area, separate from the
Incident Base, equipped and staffed to provide sleeping, food, water, and
sanitary services to incident personnel.
The process whereby resources first report to an incident. Check-in locations
include: Incident Command Post (Resources Unit), Incident Base, Camps,
Staging Areas, Helibases, Helispots, and Division Supervisors (for direct
COMMAND: A series of management positions in order of authority.
The ICS title for individuals responsible for command of functional sections:
Operations, Planning, Logistics, and Finance/Administration.
The use of plain English in radio communications transmissions. No Ten
Codes or agency-specific codes are used when utilizing Clear Text.
The act of directing and/or controlling resources by virtue of explicit
legal, agency, or delegated authority. May also refer to the Incident Commander.
POST: (See Incident Command Post.)
STAFF: The Command Staff consists of the Information Officer, Safety
Officer, and Liaison Officer. They report directly to the Incident Commander.
They may have an assistant or assistants, as needed.
UNIT: An organizational unit in the Logistics Section responsible for
providing communication services at an incident. A Communications Unit
may also be a facility (e.g., a trailer or mobile van) used to provide
the major part of an Incident Communications Center.
Formal working agreements among agencies to obtain mutual aid.
UNIT/CLAIMS UNIT: Functional unit within the Finance/Administration
Section responsible for financial concerns resulting from property damage,
injuries, or fatalities at the incident.
Two or more individual incidents located in the same general area which
are assigned to a single Incident Commander or to Unified Command.
AGENCY: An agency supplying assistance other than direct tactical or
support functions or resources to the incident control effort (e.g., Red
Cross, telephone company, etc.).
The process of systematically analyzing a situation, developing relevant
information, and informing appropriate command authority of viable alternatives
for selection of the most effective combination of available resources
to meet specific objectives. The coordination process (which can be either
intra- or inter-agency) does not involve dispatch actions. However, personnel
responsible for coordination may perform command or dispatch functions
within the limits established by specific agency delegations, procedures,
legal authority, etc.
CENTER: Term used to describe any facility that is used for the coordination
of agency or jurisdictional resources in support of one or more incidents.
AGREEMENTS: Agreements between agencies or jurisdictions to share designated
costs related to incidents. Cost sharing agreements are normally written
but may also be oral between authorized agency or jurisdictional representatives
at the incident.
Functional unit within the Finance/Administration Section responsible for
tracking costs, analyzing cost data, making cost estimates, and recommending
(See Single Resource.)
OF AUTHORITY: A statement provided to the Incident Commander by the
Agency Executive delegating authority and assigning responsibility. The
Delegation of Authority can include objectives, priorities, expectations,
constraints, and other considerations or guidelines as needed. Many agencies
require written Delegation of Authority to be given to Incident Commanders
prior to their assuming command on larger incidents.
A fully qualified individual who, in the absence of a superior, could be
delegated the authority to manage a functional operation or perform a specific
task. In some cases, a Deputy could act as relief for a superior and therefore
must be fully qualified in the position. Deputies can be assigned to the
Incident Commander, General Staff, and Branch Directors.
UNIT: Functional unit within the Planning Section responsible for assuring
orderly, safe, and efficient demobilization of incident resources.
The ICS title for individuals responsible for supervision of a Branch.
The implementation of a command decision to move a resource or resources
from one place to another.
CENTER: A facility from which resources are assigned to an incident.
ICS Glossary 5
Divisions are used to divide an incident into geographical areas of operation.
A Division is located within the ICS organization between the Branch and
the Task Force/Strike Team. (See Group.) Divisions are identified by alphabetic
characters for horizontal applications and, often, by floor numbers when
used in buildings.
UNIT: Functional unit within the Planning Section responsible for collecting,
recording, and safeguarding all documents relevant to the incident.
COORDINATOR/DIRECTOR: The individual within each political subdivision
that has coordination responsibility for jurisdictional emergency management.
MEDICAL TECHNICIAN (EMT): A health-care specialist with particular
skills and knowledge in pre-hospital emergency medicine.
OPERATIONS CENTER (EOC): A pre-designated facility established by an
agency or jurisdiction to coordinate the overall agency or jurisdictional
response and support to an emergency.
OPERATIONS PLAN: The plan that each jurisdiction has and maintains
for responding to appropriate hazards.
A planned, non-emergency activity. ICS can be used as the management system
for a wide range of events, e.g., parades, concerts, or sporting events.
UNIT: Functional unit within the Support Branch of the Logistics Section
that provides fixed facilities for the incident. These facilities may include
the Incident Base, feeding areas, sleeping areas, sanitary facilities,
GUIDE: A pocket-size manual of instructions on the application of the
Incident Command System.
SECTION: The Section responsible for all incident costs and financial
considerations. Includes the Time Unit, Procurement Unit, Compensation/Claims
Unit, and Cost Unit.
Functional unit within the Service Branch of the Logistics Section responsible
for providing meals for incident personnel.
In ICS, function refers to the five major activities in the ICS, i.e.,
Command, Operations, Planning, Logistics, and Finance/Administration. The
term function is also used when describing the activity involved, e.g.,
the planning function.
The group of incident management personnel reporting to the Incident Commander.
They may each have a deputy, as needed. The General Staff consists of:
ICS: Refers to the description of ICS that is generally applicable
to any kind of incident or event.
UNIT: Functional unit within the Support Branch of the Logistics Section
responsible for the fueling, maintaining, and repairing of vehicles, and
the transportation of personnel and supplies.
Groups are established to divide the incident into functional areas of
operation. Groups are composed of resources assembled to perform a special
function not necessarily within a single geographic division. (See Division.)
Groups are located between Branches (when activated) and Resources in the
The main location for parking, fueling, maintenance, and loading of helicopters
operating in support of an incident. It is usually located at or near the
Any designated location where a helicopter can safely take off and land.
Some helispots may be used for loading of supplies, equipment, or personnel.
OF COMMAND: (See Chain of Command.)
TRAINING CURRICULUM: A series of 17 training modules consisting of
instructor guides, visuals, tests, and student materials. The modules cover
all aspects of ICS operations. The modules can be intermixed to meet specific
An occurrence either human caused or by natural phenomena, that requires
action by emergency service personnel to prevent or minimize loss of life
or damage to property and/or natural resources.
ACTION PLAN: Contains objectives reflecting the overall incident strategy
and specific tactical actions and supporting information for the next operational
period. The Plan may be oral or written. When written, the Plan may have
a number of forms as attachments (e.g., traffic plan, safety plan, communications
plan, map, etc.).
BASE: Location at the incident where the primary logistics functions
are coordinated and administered. (Incident name or other designator will
be added to the term Base.) The Incident Command Post may be collocated
with the Base. There is only one Base per incident.
COMMANDER: The individual responsible for the management of all incident
operations at the incident site.
COMMAND POST (ICP): The location at which the primary command functions
are executed. The ICP may be collocated with the incident base or other
COMMAND SYSTEM (ICS): A standardized on-scene emergency management
concept specifically designed to allow its user(s) to adopt an integrated
organizational structure equal to the complexity and demands of single
or multiple incidents, without being hindered by jurisdictional boundaries.
COMMUNICATIONS CENTER: The location of the Communications Unit and
the Message Center.
MANAGEMENT TEAM: The Incident Commander and appropriate Command and
General Staff personnel assigned to an incident.
OBJECTIVES: Statements of guidance and direction necessary for the
selection of appropriate strategy(s), and the tactical direction of resources.
Incident objectives are based on realistic expectations of what can be
accomplished when all allocated resources have been effectively deployed.
Incident objectives must be achievable and measurable, yet flexible enough
to allow for strategic and tactical alternatives.
OFFICER: A member of the Command Staff responsible for interfacing
with the public and media or with other agencies requiring information
directly from the incident. There is only one Information Officer per incident.
The Information Officer may have assistants.
ACTION: The actions taken by resources which are the first to arrive
at an incident.
RESPONSE: Resources initially committed to an incident.
SUPPORT ORGANIZATION: Includes any off-incident support provided to
an incident. Examples would be Agency Dispatch centers, Airports, Mobilization
The range or sphere of authority. Public agencies have jurisdiction at
an incident related to their legal responsibilities and authority for incident
mitigation. Jurisdictional authority at an incident can be political/geographical
(e.g., city, county, state, or federal boundary lines) or functional (e.g.,
police department, health department, etc.). (See Multijurisdiction.)
AGENCY: The agency having jurisdiction and responsibility for a specific
geographical area, or a mandated function.
to the nature of a resource i.e. Single, Strike Team, etc.
The ICS title for an individual responsible for a Task Force, Strike Team,
or functional unit.
OFFICER: A member of the Command Staff responsible for coordinating
with representatives from cooperating and assisting agencies.
SECTION: The Section responsible for providing facilities, services,
and materials for the incident.
Refers to the joint consideration of both the life and physical well being
Individuals within ICS organizational units that are assigned specific
managerial responsibilities, e.g., Staging Area Manager or Camp Manager.
BY OBJECTIVES: In ICS, this is a top-down management activity which
involves a three-step process to achieve the incident goal. The steps are:
establishing the incident objectives, selection of appropriate strategy(s)
to achieve the objectives, and the tactical direction associated with the
selected strategy. Tactical direction includes: selection of tactics, selection
of resources, resource assignments, and performance monitoring.
UNIT: Functional unit within the Service Branch of the Logistics Section
responsible for the development of the Medical Emergency Plan, and for
providing emergency medical treatment of incident personnel.
CENTER: The Message Center is part of the Incident Communications Center
and is collocated or placed adjacent to it. It receives, records, and routes
information about resources reporting to the incident, resource status,
and administrative and tactical traffic.
The process and procedures used by all organizations federal, state, and
local for activating, assembling, and transporting all resources that have
been requested to respond to or support an incident.
CENTER: An off-incident location at which emergency service personnel
and equipment are temporarily located pending assignment, release, or reassignment.
INCIDENT: An incident where one or more agencies assist a jurisdictional
agency or agencies. May be single or unified command.
COORDINATION (MAC): A generalized term which describes the functions
and activities of representatives of involved agencies and/or jurisdictions
who come together to make decisions regarding the prioritizing of incidents,
and the sharing and use of critical resources. The MAC organization is
not a part of the on-scene ICS and is not involved in developing incident
strategy or tactics.
COORDINATION SYSTEM (MACS): The combination of personnel, facilities,
equipment, procedures, and communications integrated into a common system.
When activated, MACS has the responsibility for coordination of assisting
agency resources and support in a multi-agency or multijurisdictional environment.
A MAC Group functions within the MACS.
INCIDENT: An incident requiring action from multiple agencies that
have a statutory responsibility for incident mitigation. In ICS these incidents
will be managed under Unified Command.
AGREEMENT: Written agreement between agencies and/or jurisdictions
in which they agree to assist one another upon request, by furnishing personnel
INCIDENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (NIIMS): An NWCG-developed program consisting
of five major subsystems which collectively provide a total systems approach
to all-risk incident management. The subsystems are: The Incident Command
System, Training, Qualifications and Certification, Supporting Technologies,
and Publications Management.
WILDFIRE COORDINATING GROUP (NWCG): A group formed under the direction
of the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture to improve the coordination
and effectiveness of wildland fire activities, and provide a forum to discuss,
recommend appropriate action, or resolve issues and problems of substantive
nature. The NWCG has been a primary supporter of ICS development and training.
The ICS title for the personnel responsible for the Command Staff positions
of Safety, Liaison, and Information.
PERIOD: The period of time scheduled for execution of a given set of
operation actions as specified in the Incident Action Plan. Operational
Periods can be of various lengths, although usually not over 24 hours.
SECTION: The Section responsible for all tactical operations at the
incident. Includes Branches, Divisions and/or Groups, Task Forces, Strike
Teams, Single Resources, and Staging Areas.
RESOURCES: Resources assigned to an incident but unable to respond
for mechanical, rest, or personnel reasons.
PERSONNEL: Personnel who are assigned to supervisory positions which
include Incident Commander, Command Staff, General Staff, Directors, Supervisors,
and Unit Leaders.
A meeting held as needed throughout the duration of an incident, to select
specific strategies and tactics for incident control operations, and for
service and support planning. On larger incidents, the planning meeting
is a major element in the development of the Incident Action Plan.
SECTION: Responsible for the collection, evaluation, and dissemination
of tactical information related to the incident, and for the preparation
and documentation of Incident Action Plans. The Section also maintains
information on the current and forecasted situation, and on the status
of resources assigned to the incident. Includes the Situation, Resource,
Documentation, and Demobilization Units, as well as Technical Specialists.
UNIT: Functional unit within the Finance/Administration Section responsible
for financial matters involving vendor contracts.
A supply of radios stored in a pre-determined location for assignment to
Individuals within ICS organizational units who are responsible for recording
information. Recorders may be found in Planning, Logistics, and Finance/Administration
RESPONSE: Those resources requested in addition to the initial response.
LOCATIONS: Location or facilities where incoming resources can check-in
at the incident. (See Check-in.)
UNIT: Functional unit within the Planning Section responsible for recording
the status of resources committed to the incident. The Unit also evaluates
resources currently committed to the incident, the impact that additional
responding resources will have on the incident, and anticipated resource
Personnel and equipment available, or potentially available, for assignment
to incidents. Resources are described by kind and type, e.g., ground, water,
air, etc., and may be used in tactical support or overhead capacities at
A member of the Command Staff responsible for monitoring and assessing
safety hazards or unsafe situations, and for developing measures for ensuring
personnel safety. The Safety Officer may have assistants.
That organization level with responsibility for a major functional area
of the incident, e.g., Operations, Planning, Logistics, Finance/Administration.
The Section is organizationally between Branch and Incident Commander.
Term used in some applications to describe an organizational level similar
to an ICS Division or Group. Sector is not a part of ICS terminology.
A geographical area in which a task force/strike team leader or supervisor
of a single resource is assigned authority and responsibility for the coordination
of resources and implementation of planned tactics. A segment may be a
portion of a division or an area inside or outside the perimeter of an
incident. Segments are identified with Arabic numbers.
BRANCH: A Branch within the Logistics Section responsible for service
activities at the incident. Includes the Communications, Medical, and Food
An individual, a piece of equipment and its personnel complement, or a
crew or team of individuals with an identified work supervisor that can
be used on an incident.
UNIT: Functional unit within the Planning Section responsible for the
collection, organization, and analysis of incident status information,
and for analysis of the situation as it progresses. Reports to the Planning
CONTROL: The supervisory ratio of from three-to-seven individuals,
with five-to-one being established as optimum.
AREA: Staging Areas are locations set up at an incident where resources
can be placed while awaiting a tactical assignment. Staging Areas are managed
by the Operations Section.
The general plan or direction selected to accomplish incident objectives.
Specified combinations of the same kind and type of resources, with common
communications and a leader.
The ICS title for individuals responsible for command of a Division or
Functional unit within the Support Branch of the Logistics Section responsible
for ordering equipment and supplies required for incident operations.
BRANCH: A Branch within the Logistics Section responsible for providing
personnel, equipment, and supplies to support incident operations. Includes
the Supply, Facilities, and Ground Support Units.
MATERIALS: Refers to the several attachments that may be included with
an Incident Action Plan, e.g., communications plan, map, safety plan, traffic
plan, and medical plan.
RESOURCES: Non-tactical resources under the supervision of the Logistics,
Planning, Finance/Administration Sections, or the Command Staff.
Direction given by the Operations Section Chief which includes the tactics
appropriate for the selected strategy, the selection and assignment of
resources, tactics implementation, and performance monitoring for each
A combination of single resources assembled for a particular tactical need,
with common communications and a leader.
(See Single Resource.)
SPECIALISTS: Personnel with special skills that can be used anywhere
within the ICS organization.
FLIGHT RESTRICTIONS (TFR): Temporary airspace restrictions for non-emergency
aircraft in the incident area. TFRs are established by the FAA to ensure
aircraft safety, and are normally limited to a five-nautical-mile radius
and 2000 feet in altitude.
Functional unit within the Finance/Administration Section responsible for
recording time for incident personnel and hired equipment.
Refers to resource capability. A Type 1 resource provides a greater overall
capability due to power, size, capacity, etc., than would be found in a
Type 2 resource. Resource typing provides managers with additional information
in selecting the best resource for the task.
COMMAND: A Unified Area Command is established when incidents under
an Area Command are multijurisdictional. (See Area Command and Unified
COMMAND: In ICS, Unified Command is a unified team effort which allows
all agencies with responsibility for the incident, either geographical
or functional, to manage an incident by establishing a common set of incident
objectives and strategies. This is accomplished without losing or abdicating
agency authority, responsibility, or accountability.
The organizational element having functional responsibility for a specific
incident planning, logistics, or finance/administration activity.
COMMAND: The concept by which each person within an organization reports
to one and only one designated person.