National Incident Management System and Incident Command System

Overview

The National Incident Management System (NIMS) provides a common, nationwide approach to enable the whole community to work together to manage all threats and hazards. NIMS applies to all incidents, regardless of cause, size, location, or complexity.

NIMS guides all levels of government, nongovernmental organizations (NGO), and the private sector to work together to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from incidents. NIMS provides stakeholders across the whole community with the shared vocabulary, systems, and processes to successfully deliver the capabilities described in the National Preparedness System. NIMS defines operational systems, including the Incident Command System (ICS), Emergency Operations Center (EOC) structures, and Multiagency Coordination Groups (MAC Groups) that guide how personnel work together during incidents. NIMS applies to all incidents, from traffic accidents to major disasters.

NIMS 2017 Update:

  • Retains key concepts and principles of the 2004 and 2008 versions of NIMS;
  • Reflects and incorporates policy updates and lessons learned from exercises and real incidents;
  • Clarifies the processes and terminology for qualifying, certifying, and credentialing incident personnel, by building a foundation for the development of a national qualification system;
  • Clarifies that NIMS is more than just the Incident Command System (ICS) and that it applies to all incident personnel, from the incident command post to the National Response Coordination Center;
  • Describes common functions and terminology for staff in EOCs, while remaining flexible to allow for differing missions, authorities, and resources of EOCs across the nation; and,
  • Explains the relationship among ICS, EOCs, and senior leaders/policy groups.

 

The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services is committed to providing the appropriate guidance and information necessary to assist entities in achieving compliance with the NIMS.

NIMS Components

Fundamentals and Concepts of NIMS

Incident Management is the application of resources by organizations to plan for, respond to, and recover from an incident. Priorities for incident management in planning, response, and recovery efforts include saving lives, stabilizing the incident, and protecting property and environment. To achieve these priorities, incident management personnel use NIMS components incident management personnel use NIMS components in accordance with the three NIMS guiding principles:

  • Flexibility
  • Standardization
  • Unity of Effort

 

Flexibility: Allows NIMS to be scalable from routine, local incidents through those requiring interstate mutual aid, and up to those requiring federal assistance. Flexibility enables NIMS to be applicable to incidents that vary widely in terms of hazard, geography, demographics, climate, cultural, and organization authorities. NIMS components are adaptable to any type of event or incident.

 

Standardization: Supports interoperability among multiple organizations in incident response. NIMS defines standard organizational structures that improve integration and connectivity among organizations. NIMS defines standard practices that allow incident personnel and organizations to work together effectively. NIMS includes common terminology, which enables effective communications.

 

Unity of Effort: The principle Unity of Effort means coordinating activities among various organizational representatives to achieve common objectives. Unity of Effort enables organizations with jurisdictional authority or functional responsibilities to support each other while allowing each participating agency to maintain its own authority and accountability.

 

 

Resource Management & Mutual Aid

This component of NIMS describes and provides details on NIMS resource typing, NIMS credentialing, inventorying, and the National Mutual Aid System. It also contains a link to the Resource Typing Library Tool. More information can be found at NIMS Components - Guidance and Tools.

 

Credentialing: Qualifying and credentialing personnel ensures that the identity and attributes of individuals or members of teams are validated against an established set of minimum criteria and qualifications for specific job titles. The NIMS Guideline for the Credentialing of Personnel can be found at: NIMS Guideline for Credentialing of Personnel.

 

Typing: Resource typing is defining and categorizing, by capability, the resources requested, deployed, and used in incidents. Resource typing definitions establish a common language and defines a resource's (for equipment, teams, and units) minimum capabilities. NIMS resource typing definitions serve as the common language for the mobilization of resources.

 

Resource Typing Library Tool (RTLT): The RTLT is the online catalogue of all NIMS resource typing definitions and job titles/position qualifications that have been released by FEMA as final publication or interim guidance. The Resource Typing Tool can be found at: Resource Typing Library Tool

 

 

Inventorying

Resource owners and providers should inventory and maintain current information on their shareable resources. Resource inventories should be adaptable and scalable. In order to ensure adaptability and scalability, a jurisdiction or entity's inventory should employ interoperable standards for information sharing. While a resource inventory can be as simple as a paper or electronic spreadsheet, many resource providers use information technology (IT) based inventory systems.

 

Incident Resource Inventory System (IRIS): The Incident Resource Inventory System (IRIS) is a distributed software tool, provided at no-cost by FEMA. It is standards-based and allows for the seamless exchange of information with other instances of IRIS and with other standards-based resource inventory and resource management systems.  IRIS allows users to identify and inventory their resources, consistently with NIMS resource typing definitions, for mutual aid operations based on mission needs and each resource's capabilities, availability and response time, and share information with other agencies. IRIS stores data locally on the user's computer or on the user's network if configured during installation.

 

To download IRIS to your computer or network use this link: https://preptoolkit.fema.gov/web/nims-tools.

 

 

National Mutual Aid System

The National Mutual Aid System is built upon the integration of all types of mutual aid that are most often described by geo-political boundaries, including: local, intrastate, regional, interstate, tribal, and international mutual aid into a single system. Each level utilizes the level below it to create a unified national system for response to significant incidents.  When integrated and working in a unified manner, the system strengthens the overall preparedness and readiness of the Nation.

 

Mutual aid agreements already exist in various forms among and between all levels of government. These agreements authorize mutual aid between two or more neighboring communities, between all jurisdictions within a state, and between states. Agreements can also be with and between private sector entities, NGOs, and other whole community partners. The emergency management community should consider resources and capabilities across the whole community and develop written agreements that facilitate access to potentially needed resources.

 

 

NIMS Command and Coordination Structures

There are four NIMS Structures that enable incident managers to manage and coordinate incident response in a unified, consistent manner. Together these four elements comprise the NIMS Command and Coordinating structures.

 

Incident Command System (ICS): The Incident Command System (ICS) is a management system designed to enable effective and efficient domestic incident management by integrating a combination of facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures, and communications operating within a common organizational structure. It enables incident managers to identify the key concerns associated with the incident, often under urgent conditions, without sacrificing attention to any component of the command system.

ICS is normally structured to facilitate activities in six major functional areas:

  • Command
  • Operations
  • Planning
  • Logistics
  • Intelligence and Investigations
  • Finance and Administration

 

Emergency Operations Center (EOC): Jurisdictions establish Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs) to meet their unique requirements and needs, so no two EOCs are designed exactly the same. EOCs are locations where staff from multiple agencies typically come together to address imminent threats and hazards and to provide coordinated support to incident command, on-scene personnel, and/or other EOCs. EOCs may be fixed locations, temporary facilities, or virtual structures with staff participating remotely.

Primary functions of staff in EOCs, whether virtual or physical, include:

  • Collecting, analyzing, and sharing information;
  • Supporting resource needs and requests, including allocation and tracking;
  • Coordinating plans and determining current and future needs; and,
  • In some cases, providing coordination and policy direction.
 

Multiagency Coordination Group (MAC Group): MAC Groups, sometimes called policy groups, are part of the off-site incident management structure of NIMS. MAC Group members are typically agency administrators, executives, or their designees from stakeholder agencies or organizations impacted by and with resources committed to the incident. The MAC Group may also include representatives from non-governmental organizations such as businesses and volunteer organizations. They are established and organized to make cooperative multiagency decisions. MAC Groups act as policy-level bodies during incidents, supporting resource prioritization and allocation, and enabling decision making among elected and appointed officials and those responsible for managing the incident (e.g., the Incident Commander).

 

Joint Information System (JIS): The JIS integrates incident information and public affairs into a unified organization that provides consistent, coordinated, accurate, accessible, timely, and complete information to the public and stakeholders during incident operations. JIS operates across and supports the other NIMS Command and Coordination structures: ICS, EOC, and MAC Group.

The JIS mission is to provide a structure and system for:

  • Developing and delivering coordinated interagency messages;
  • Developing, recommending, and executing public information plans and strategies on behalf of the Incident Commander or Unified Command, EOC director, or MAC Group;
  • Advising the Incident Commander or Unified Command, MAC Group, and EOC director concerning public affairs issues that could affect an incident management effort; and,
  • Addressing and managing rumors and inaccurate information that could undermine public confidence.

 

 

Communications and Information Management

Effective emergency response depends on communication and the ability to maintain situational awareness through the constant flow of information. Communications problems are not limited to systems being destroyed or not functioning. Similar problems arise when agencies cannot exchange needed information because of incompatible systems. NIMS identifies several important features of public safety communications and information systems. Communications systems need to be:

  • Interoperable: Able to communicate within and across agencies and jurisdictions.
  • Reliable: Able to function in the context of any kind of emergency.
  • Scalable: Suitable for use on a small or large scale as needs of the incident dictate.
  • Portable: Built on standardized radio technologies, protocols, and frequencies.
  • Resilient: Able to perform despite damaged or lost infrastructure.
  • Redundant: Able to use alternate communication methods when primary systems go out.
  • Secure: Able to protect sensitive or classified information from those without a need to know.

 

Regardless of the communications hardware being used, standardized procedures, protocols, and formats are necessary to gather, collate, synthesize, and disseminate incident information. 

NIMS Core Curriculum

The NIMS Training Program identifies those courses critical to train personnel capable of implementing all functions of emergency management.

 

NIMS training develops incident personnel capable of performing necessary functions in their Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) and assisting when mutual aid is necessary. Because incident personnel have diverse responsibilities and different knowledge and skill requirements, the NIMS Training Program provides customized training progressions for personnel in each of the four NIMS Command and Coordination systems: Incident Command System (ICS), Emergency Operations Center (EOC), Joint Information System (JIS), and Multiagency Coordination Systems (MAC).

  • ICS: Responsible for tactical activities on-scene.
  • EOC: Responsible for operational and strategic coordination, resource acquisition, and information gathering, analysis, and sharing.
  • Public Information Officers (PIO) operating within the Joint Information System (JIS): Responsible for outreach and communication to the media and public. 
    • JIS ICS PIOs
    • JIS EOC PIOs
  • MAC Group: Responsible for policy guidance and senior-level decision-making.

 

These systems guide how personnel work together during incidents. Courses for these systems are organized into Focus Areas. Focus Area training progressions include baseline training for all personnel, multiple levels of supervisory training based on an individual’s level of incident responsibility, and advanced training for individuals seeking advanced position qualifications.

 

An AHJ may determine that additional, advanced training is necessary to meet the requirements for a qualification program (such as NQS), but FEMA does not require this additional training for preparedness grant eligibility. 

 

Each AHJ determines which personnel will take which courses. Organizational leaders should base their determination on an individual’s level of incident responsibility, incident frequency, and the organization’s relevant emergency management plans. AHJs should coordinate their efforts with local and state emergency management agencies.

 

Regardless of Focus Area, all NIMS training falls into three basic categories, which share many of the same foundational courses.

  • All Incident Personnel: Associated courses provide the foundational knowledge to help nonsupervisory incident personnel understand where they fit in the overall incident structure. Many incident personnel never advance beyond these baseline courses.
  • Incident Personnel with Leadership Responsibilities: Associated courses provide additional background on external incident management systems for mid-level incident personnel responsible for establishing the initial incident command or for those preparing for a future supervisory role.
  • Incident Personnel Designated as Senior Leaders/Supervisors: Courses provide enhanced knowledge and increased comfort in using NIMS structures and processes, for senior level incident personnel. Trainees are typically those designated as ICS or EOC leaders/supervisors for large or complex incidents that extend beyond a single operational period and generate an Incident Action Plan (IAP).

NIMS/ICS Training Courses

Baseline Training

The following courses are designed to provide a “baseline” for all incident personnel, as they introduce basic NIMS and Incident Command System (ICS) concepts and provide the foundation for higher-level Emergency Operations Center (EOC), Multiagency Coordination System (MAC), and ICS-related training:

 

All Personnel: All incident personnel working within the ICS/EOC/MAC/JIS/PIO should complete the following courses for foundational knowledge of incident response:

  • IS-700 NIMS, an Introduction: This course introduces the NIMS concept. NIMS provides a consistent nationwide template to enable all government, private sector, and nongovernmental organizations to work together during domestic incidents.
  • IS-100 Introduction to the Incident Command System: This course introduces ICS and provides the foundation for higher level ICS training. It describes the history, features and principles, and organizational structure of the system. It also explains the relationship between ICS and NIMS.

 

ICS Training Progression

Personnel who will operate within ICS (field personnel) follow the ICS training progression. Each AHJ determines how far individuals need to progress based on their role within ICS and the size and complexity of the incidents that personnel respond to on a regular basis.

 

ICS Personnel with Leadership Responsibilities: Supervisory personnel working within the ICS should complete the following courses for additional background in incident management systems with leadership responsibilities:

  • IS-800: National Response Framework, An Introduction - This course introduces participants to the concepts and principles of the National Response Framework (NRF).
  • IS-200: Basic Incident Command System for Initial Response, ICS-200 -This course enables personnel to operate efficiently within the ICS during an incident or event.
    • It is recommended that after the completion of IS-200, personnel working with the ICS gain experience before taking more advanced training courses.

 

ICS Personnel Designated as Senior Leaders/Supervisors: Leaders who would be assigned key roles in management of complex incidents should complete this level of training. These courses apply higher-level concepts, methods, and tools for larger, more complex incidents.

  • G0191: Emergency Operations Center/Incident Command System Interface - This course provides an opportunity for emergency management and response personnel to begin developing an ICS/EOC interface for their communities.
  • E/L/G0300: Intermediate Incident Command System for Expanding Incidents, ICS300 - This course provides training for personnel who require advanced ICS knowledge.
    • FEMA recommends that students take the two-day classroom version of ICS-200 before attending ICS-300 to ensure they have the foundational knowledge necessary to be successful in ICS-300.
  • E/L/G0400: Advanced Incident Command System for Command and General Staff - Complex Incidents, ICS-400 - This course provides training in managing large, complex incidents or events.
    • FEMA recommends that students not take ICS-400 immediately following ICS-300 but instead wait to take ICS-400 after gaining additional ICS experience.

 

 

EOC Training Progression

Personnel who staff an EOC follow the EOC training progression. Each AHJ determines how far individuals need to progress based on their role within the EOC and the size and complexity of incidents they will support.

 

EOC Personnel with Leadership Responsibilities: Supervisory personnel working within an EOC should complete the following courses for additional background in incident management systems with leadership responsibilities:

  • IS-800: National Response Framework, An Introduction - This course introduces participants to the concepts and principles of the NRF.
  • IS-2200: Basic EOC Functions - This course prepares incident personnel working in an EOC to understand the role and functions of an EOC during incident response and the transition to recovery.
    • FEMA recommends that personnel with leadership responsibilities in an EOC complete IS-2200 instead of IS-200.
  • G0191: Emergency Operations Center/Incident Command System Interface – This course provides an opportunity for emergency management and response personnel to begin developing an ICS/EOC interface for their communities.

 

EOC Personnel Designated as Senior Leaders/Supervisors: EOC leaders need enhanced knowledge. This course applies higher-level concepts, methods, and tools for larger, more complex incidents:

  • E/L/G2300: Intermediate EOC Functions - This course describes the role, design, and function of EOCs as components of a Multiagency Coordination System (MACS).

 

 

JIS/PIO Training Progression

The JIS integrates incident information and public affairs into a cohesive organization to provide coordinated and complete information before, during, and after incidents. A JIS cuts across the three levels of incident management (on-scene/tactical, center/coordination, and policy/strategic) and helps ensure coordinated messaging among all incident personnel.

JIS/PIO personnel, whether assigned to work in an ICS or an EOC environment, should follow the JIS/PIO Training Progression. Each AHJ determines how far individuals need to progress based on their role within incident command, and the size and complexity of incidents they are preparing for.

 

All JIS/PIO Personnel: These courses provide baseline training for all incident JIS personnel. Some personnel assigned to JIS roles but not assigned as a PIO may not progress beyond these courses. For those who do, these courses provide the foundation upon which higher-level training builds.

  • IS-29: Public Information Officer Awareness – This course provides introductory information for JIS personnel.

 

JIS/PIO Personnel with Senior Leadership Responsibilities: These courses provide basic training for JIS personnel with leadership responsibilities — not only individuals serving in designated leadership positions, but also personnel preparing for a future supervisory role.

  • IS-800: National Response Framework, An Introduction – This course introduces participants to the concepts and principles of the NRF.
  • G0290: Basic Public Information Officer – This course prepares participants to function as PIOs.

 

In EOC:

  • IS-2200: Basic EOC Functions – This course prepares incident personnel working in an EOC to understand the role and functions of an EOC during incident response and the transition to recovery.

 

In ICS

  • IS-200: Basic Incident Command System for Initial Response, ICS-200 – This course enables personnel to operate efficiently within the ICS during an incident or event.

 

JIS/PIO Personnel Designated as Senior Leaders/Supervisors: These courses, designed for JIS leaders and supervisors — such as EOC, PIOs, or PIOs rostered on an Incident Management Team (IMT) — apply higher-level concepts, methods, and tools for larger, more complex incidents.

 

In EOC:

  • G0191: Emergency Operations Center/Incident Command System Interface – This course provides an opportunity for emergency management and response personnel to begin developing an ICS/EOC interface for their communities.
  • E/L/G2300: Intermediate EOC Functions – This course describes the role, design, and function of EOCs as components of a MACS.

 

In ICS:

  • E/L/G0300: Intermediate ICS for Expanding Incidents, ICS-300 – This course provides training for personnel who require advanced ICS knowledge.
    • FEMA recommends that students take the two-day classroom version of ICS-200 before attending ICS-300.
  • E/L/G0400: Advanced Incident Command System for Command and General Staff – Complex Incidents, ICS-400 This course provides training in managing large, complex incidents or events.
    • FEMA recommends that students not take ICS-400 immediately following ICS-300 but instead wait to take ICS-400 after gaining additional ICS experience.

 

 

MAC Group Training Progression

MAC Groups, sometimes called Policy Groups, typically consist of agency administrators, organizational executives, or their designees. Executives and senior officials, whether elected or appointed, must have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities for successful emergency management and incident response. To that end, it is vital that they receive NIMS training.

 

All MAC Group Personnel: One course provides baseline training for senior officials. In addition, MAC Group personnel need a briefing from the emergency management director.

  • G0402/ICS-402: ICS Overview for Senior Officials (Executives, Elected, and Appointed) – This course provides an orientation to NIMS components for senior officials.
  • Briefing from the Emergency Management Director – MAC Group members should meet with their emergency management director to understand the jurisdiction’s threats and hazards, as well as their role in emergency response.

NIMS Implementation Guidance & Reporting

Implementation Guidance

Local, state, tribal, and territorial jurisdictions are required to adopt NIMS in order to receive federal Preparedness Grants. The National Incident Management System (NIMS) Implementation Objectives were developed to guide jurisdictions in their implementation of NIMS. The NIMS Implementation Objectives clarify the NIMS implementation requirements in FEMA preparedness grant Notices of Funding Opportunity. As recipients and subrecipients of Federal preparedness (non-disaster) grant awards, jurisdictions and organizations must achieve, or be actively working to achieve, all of the NIMS Implementation Objectives.

 

Reporting

The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) is responsible for reporting New York State's compliance to NIMS to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). DHSES has created a short survey to obtain the necessary NIMS compliance information from every County, the City of New York, and the State agencies that make up the Disaster Preparedness Commission (DPC).

 

For questions regarding NIMS,  please send your questions to [email protected]

 

Resources

(Publications, Forms, and Tools)

 

National Incident Management System NYS Training Program Plan 

Provided by DHSES.

 

National Incident Management System Training Program

Provided by FEMA.

 

National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG)
Provides access to various publications.

 

ICS Forms Database
Provided by the National Wildfire Coordination Group (NWCG).

 

FIRESCOPE
Provides a variety of California-oriented interagency fire and incident management information, including the widely used ICS Field Operations Guide (FOG).

 

Homeland Security Presidential Directive #5 (HSPD-5)
Presidential Directive that requires a national incident management system to be used by all disciplines, at all levels of government, for all types of incidents.

 

National Incident Management System (NIMS)
Mandated by HSPD-5, is a standardized management system developed from best practices in incident management. This link will bring you to the Department of Homeland Security document outlining the features of the system.

FAQ's

Q: Who should read the NIMS Training Program?

A: The NIMS Training Program is intended for emergency management officials and administrators responsible for budgets, planning, and procurement, who require guidance on the development and provision of NIMS training. The NIMS Training Program informs local, state, territorial, tribal nation, and Federal policy-makers; elected and appointed officials; government emergency management agencies and trainers (i.e. local, state, territorial, tribal nation NIMS Coordinators); managers overseeing those in mission-critical positions and organizations and professional development; human resource managers setting and overseeing personnel policies and personnel with responsibility to develop NIMS-related guidance or training, credentialing, or personnel qualifications information.

 

Q: If I follow the guidance within the NIMS Training Program will I be compliant with NIMS?

A: No. The implementation of NIMS consists of much more than just completing the training courses. It also includes the adoption and use of the Incident Command System (ICS), a plain language requirement, the inventorying and typing of resources, and more. Your organization should coordinate its NIMS implementation efforts with the local and state emergency management agencies.

 

Q: Can my jurisdiction require that I complete more training beyond what is recommended in the NIMS Training Program?

A: Yes. Your organization will also have to adhere to any additional NIMS requirements that are passed down through local governing bodies. Some jurisdictions and organizations may take the initiative to train their personnel beyond the scope of the current training recommendations.

 

Q: Is the NIMS Training Program just for firefighters and law enforcement officers?
A: No. The training is intended for all personnel who are directly involved in emergency management and response. This includes all emergency services related disciplines such as EMS, hospitals, public health, fire service, law enforcement, public works/utilities, skilled support personnel, and other emergency management response, support, and volunteer personnel. This training is intended to aid people who don't usually work together, or even know each other, to seamlessly respond to and recover from a disaster either natural or human caused.

 

Q: What qualifications does an instructor need to meet in order to deliver the NIMS and ICS courses?

A: The NIC develops and regularly reviews the courses that are considered part of the NIMS core curriculum according to professionally recognized instructional standards that include adherence to established adult learning models. The NIC collaborates with course managers to define instructor qualifications and the number of required instructors per course. However, this does not prevent any stakeholder from prescribing stricter instructor qualifications. To assist in course instruction, FEMA publishes subject matter guidelines and instruction requirements for specific courses.
Course instructors have a responsibility to deliver course materials and activities according to the minimum standards identified in the NIMS curriculum instructor guides and/or course summaries.

 

Q: I still have not received my training certificate for a course that I took on the Emergency Management Institute (EMI) Web site. What should I do?

A: If you have inquiries regarding certificates or EMI online courses should be directed to the Emergency Management Institute's Independent Study Office by phone: 301-447-1200 or e-mail: [email protected].