Standards And Resources
The NIMS Integration Center focuses on the development of a national system of guidelines, protocols and standards for the implementation of the NIMS system. For example, NIMS requires the qualification and certification of incident response personnel. This requires national standards for qualifying and certifying personnel and will ensure that agencies and organizations involved in incident response will be able to request and deploy personnel with the knowledge, skills and experience to do their jobs efficiently and effectively.
Question: We currently use the ICS for our incident response operations. How will our current ICS system relate to the NIMS?
Answer: The NIMS utilizes ICS as a standard incident management organization for the management of all major incidents. These functional areas include command, operations, planning, logistics and finance/administration. Additionally, the principle of unified command has been incorporated into NIMS to ensure further coordination for incidents involving multiple jurisdictions or agencies. This unified command component not only coordinates the efforts of many jurisdictions, but also provides for and assures joint decision on objectives, strategies, plans, priorities and public communications.
Question: What does "institutionalizing the use of ICS" mean?
Answer: To "institutionalize the use of ICS" means that government officials, incident managers and emergency response organizations at all jurisdictional levels adopt the Incident Command System and launch activities that will result in the use of the Incident Command System for all incident response operations. Actions to institutionalize the use of ICS take place at two levels - policy and organizational/operational.
At the policy level, institutionalizing the ICS means government officials, i.e., governors, mayors, county and city managers, tribal leaders and others:
- Adopt through the ICS through executive order, proclamation or legislation as the jurisdiction's official incident response system; and
- Direct that incident managers and response organizations in their jurisdictions train, exercise and use the ICS in their response operations.
At the organizational/operational level, evidence that incident managers and emergency response organizations are institutionalizing the ICS would include the following:
-ICS is being integrated into functional and system-wide emergency operations policies, plans and procedures;
- ICS training is planned or under way for responders, supervisors and command level officers; and
- Responders at all levels are participating in and/or coordinating ICS-oriented exercises that involve responders from multi-disciplines and jurisdictions.
Question: I still do not understand what NIMS is. Could you explain to me what benefit our small fire department will gain from using NIMS?
Answer: The National Incident Management System (NIMS) was developed to provide a system that would help emergency managers and responders from different jurisdictions and disciplines work together more effectively to handle emergencies and disasters. Most incidents are handled on a daily basis by a single, local jurisdiction at the local level, often by fire personnel, EMS and law enforcement. But even for incidents that are relatively limited in scope, coordination and cooperation among the responding organizations makes for a more effective response.
When the NIMS is adopted and used nationwide it will form a standardized, unified framework for incident management within which government and private entities at all levels can work together effectively. The NIMS provides a set of standardized organizational structures such as the Incident Command System and standardized processes, procedures and systems. These processes and procedures are designed to improve interoperability among jurisdictions and disciplines in various areas -- command and management, resource management, training, communications.
The development of a nationwide credentialing system is a fundamental component of NIMS. The NIMS Integration Center has launched an effort to develop a National Emergency Responder Credentialing System that will provide incident commanders and supporting multi-agency coordination systems with the means to verify, quickly and accurately, the identity and qualifications of emergency personnel responding to an incident. A national credentialing system can document minimum professional qualifications, certifications, training and education requirements that define baseline criteria expected of emergency response professionals and volunteers. While such a system is meant to verify the identity and qualifications of emergency responders, it does not provide automatic access to an incident site. The NIMS Integration Center's credentialing system can help prevent unauthorized, i.e., self-dispatched or unqualified personnel, access to an incident site. To support this credentialing initiative, the Center will use working groups to identify positions that should be credentialed and the minimum qualification, certification, training and education requirements for each position. The groups will represent the following disciplines:
• Incident Management
• Emergency Medical Services
• Firefighting and Hazardous Materials Response
• Law Enforcement
• Health Care
• Public Health
• Public Works
• Search & Rescue
Question: Will NIMS training be one of the NIMS-related standards?
Answer: Yes. The standards will include training, experience, credentialing, currency and physical and medical fitness. Personnel who are certified to support interstate incidents will be required to meet national qualification and certification standards.
Question: What NIMS training is currently available to jurisdictions?
The Emergency Management Institute (A DHS/FEMA component) has developed Web-based course that is entitled, "The National Incident Management System" an Introduction. The course is available free of charge to U.S. residents via the FEMA Training website
. The course describes the purpose, principles, key components and benefits of NIMS. Also included in the course are on-line “Planning Activity” tools that help the user to measure how compliant his/her organization is with NIMS.
Question: Is current Incident Command System (ICS) training applicable to NIMS?
Answer: The NIMS recognizes the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) ICS training as a model for course curricula and materials applicable to the NIMS:
- ICS-100, Introduction to ICS
- ICS-200, Basic ICS
- ICS-300, Intermediate ICS
- ICS-400, Advanced ICS
The USFA’s National Fire Academy and Emergency Management Institute both follow this model in their ICS training curricula. At the local level, agencies may contact the fire department for information and training on ICS.