A Brief Overview of the ICS Structure

The Incident Command System was designed through the development of best practices in incident command.

The Incident Command System, or ICS, is a management system that supports effective and efficient incident management by integrating a combination of facilities equipment, personnel, procedures and communications operating within an organizational structure.

RELATED: 8 Steps to Hosting a Safe and Successful Event

The ICS command function is directed by the incident commander, who is the person in charge at the event and who must be fully qualified to manage the event. Major responsibilities for the incident commander include:

  • Performing command activities,
  • Establishing the Incident Command Post,
  • Protecting life safety concerns,
  • Controlling resources,
  • Maintaining accountability task accomplishment,
  • Establishing and maintaining an effective liaison with outside agencies and organizations

The planning section’s function includes the collection, evaluation, dissemination and use of information about the development of the event and status of resources. This section’s responsibilities can also include creation of the incident action plan (IAP), which defines the response activities and resource utilization for a specified time period.
The operations section is responsible for carrying out the event activities described in the IAP. The operations section chief coordinates operations section activities and has primary responsibility for receiving and implementing the IAP. The operations section chief reports to the incident commander and determines the required resources and organizational structure within the operations section. The operations section chief’s main responsibilities are to:

  • Direct and coordinate all operations, ensuring the safety of operations section personnel
  • Assist the incident commander in developing response goals and objectives for the incident
  • Implement the IAP
  • Request (or release) resources through the incident commander
  • Keep the incident commander informed of situation and resource status within operations

The logistics section is responsible for providing facilities, services and materials, including personnel to operate the requested equipment for the incident. This section takes on great significance in long-term or extended operations. It is important to note that the logistics section functions are geared to support the incident responders.

The finance/administration section is critical for tracking event costs and reimbursement.

Unless costs and financial operations are carefully recorded and justified, reimbursement of costs is difficult, if not impossible.

For more information please check FEMA Courses – ICS 100, 200, 300, 400, MGT 335 – Event Security Planning for Public Safety, MGT 404 – Sports and Special Events Management, MGT 440 – Enhanced Sports and Special Events Incident Management.

Dennis Terpin, Ph.D., O.S.H.T., is the senior industrial hygienist for the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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