[cifnmedia] NIMS

  • From: Sean & Kimberly Aaron <cifn@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: CIFN LIST <cifnmedia@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 17 Mar 2004 02:16:31 -0800 (PST)

US National Incident Management System approved 

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge yesterday announced 
approval of the National Incident Management System (NIMS), the US's first 
standardised management plan that creates a unified structure for Federal, 
state, and local lines of government for incident response. "NIMS gives all of 
our Nation's responders the same framework for incident management," Ridge said.

According to the DHS, “NIMS aims to strengthen US response capabilities by 
identifying and integrating core elements and best practices for all responders 
and incident managers. Through a balance between flexibility and 
standardisation, and use of common doctrine, terminology, concepts, principles, 
and processes, execution during a real incident will be consistent and 
seamless. Responders will be able to focus more on response, instead of 
organising the response, and teamwork and assignments among all authorities 
will be clearly enhanced.”

Key elements and features of NIMS include:
* Incident Command System (ICS)
NIMS outlines a standard incident management organisation called ICS that 
establishes five functional areas - command, operations, planning, logistics, 
and finance/administration - for management of all major incidents. To ensure 
further coordination and during incidents involving multiple jurisdictions or 
agencies, the principle of unified command has been universally incorporated 
into NIMS. This unified command not only coordinates the efforts of many 
jurisdictions, but provides for and assures joint decisions on objectives, 
strategies, plans, priorities, and public communications. 

* Preparedness
Responder readiness to manage and conduct incident actions is significantly 
enhanced if professionals have worked together before an incident. NIMS 
recognises this and defines advance preparedness measures such as planning, 
training, exercises, qualification and certification, equipment acquisition and 
certification, and publication management. Preparedness also incorporates 
mitigation activities such as public education, enforcement of building 
standards and codes, and preventive measures to deter or lessen the loss of 
life or property. 

* Communications and information management
Standardised communications during an incident are essential and NIMS 
prescribes interoperable communications systems for both incident and 
information management. Responders and managers across all agencies and 
jurisdictions must have a common operating picture for a more efficient and 
effective incident response. 

* Joint Information System (JIS)
The Joint Information System provides the public with timely and accurate 
incident information and unified public messages. This system employs Joint 
Information Centers and brings incident communicators together during an 
incident to develop, coordinate, and deliver a unified message. This will 
ensure that Federal, state, tribal, and local levels of government are 
releasing the same information during an incident. 

* NIMS Integration Center (NIC)
To ensure that NIMS remains an accurate and effective management tool, the NIMS 
NIC will be established by the Secretary of Homeland Security to assess 
proposed changes to NIMS, capture and evaluate lessons learned, and employ best 
practices. The NIC will provide strategic direction and oversight of the NIMS, 
supporting both routine maintenance and continuous refinement of the system and 
its components over the long term. The NIC will develop and facilitate national 
standards for NIMS education and training, first responder communications and 
equipment, typing of resources, qualification and ‘credentialing’ of 
incident management and responder personnel, and standardisation of equipment 
maintenance and resources. The NIC will continue to use the collaborative 
process of Federal, state, tribal, local, multi-discipline and private 
authorities to assess prospective changes and assure continuity and accuracy. 

Sean A. Aaron (CIFN*1)
Central Illinois Fire Network

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