Incident Command System

The ICS was established after wildfires that occurred in California in the 70s. Many people got injured and died from the effects of the wildfire and millions worth of property was damaged (Emergency Management Institute, n.d). The research that followed showed that rather than tactics failure or insufficient resources it was the poor coordination, communication, response and management among the agencies that led to the massive losses. The California Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS) was responsible for the ICS. With the coming in effect of the Homeland Security Presidential Directive 5 or (HSPD5), SEMS went national and this required all agencies to implement the National Incident Management System to deal with incidences and to also qualify for state funding (Emergency Management Institute, n.d).
Congress charged the Forest Service with the responsibility of coming up with a system design to aid in fire protection by coordinating all the responsible agencies. They came up with the FIRESCOPE (Firefighting Resources of California Organized for Potential Emergencies) it’s responsible for the research and design of the ICS (Emergency Management Institute, n.d). This system was developed to outline the roles and responsibilities including control and management of emergency situations. In the 80s the ICS was put into use by fire agencies throughout the Southern California region (Emergency Management Institute, n.d). The use of this system in other forms of incidents was also increasing during this period. The system was gaining recognition in its capability to handle other forms of catastrophes such as floods, earthquakes and hazardous accidents by helping in response and coordination of the agencies involved. Information from FIRESCOPE ICS was later used to establish the National Interagency Incident Management System (NIIMS) and this was integrated further into developing the NIMS ICS (Emergency Management Institute, n.d).
The ICS works when an occurrence requires some form of action from different response groups or organizations concerned with emergency management and where there is need of implementation of a common process and effective coordination among them(FEMA, n.d.). The ICS provides a system where the incident response units can respond to a situation by combining their efforts and resources and can also help when there are additional resources required for successful management of the incident by communicating these needs to the relevant authorities (FEMA, n.d.).
The ICS is designed to develop the ability for quick response units to combine resources while working under the same command structure (FEMA, n.d.). This ensures that all organizations assist in coming up with a concrete solution and the actual implementation. It helps the managers in identifying the important issues that led up to the occurrence and this happens mostly under emergency situations when decisions are required to be made promptly by the command system without compromising any underlying aspects (FEMA, n.d.). The ICS is designed to be more focused so as to; enable personnel from different agencies to band swiftly under a single command unit, ensure cost effectiveness and reduce chances of duplication of roles and efforts, avail logistical and administration support and to be able to develop enough resources to deal with the problem at hand(FEMA, n.d.).
In conclusion, the incident management system is crucial for the functioning of all response agencies. Local situations may not prove a challenge to the relevant authorities but when it comes to large scale national incidents such as the 9/11 the agencies should have the ability to swiftly blend together under a common system and command. This ensures better management of the situation and thus saving more lives and property.

Emergency Management Institute. (n.d). Incident Command System. Retrieved from
FEMA. (n.d.). Incident Command System. Retrieved from


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