The Incident Command System (ICS) is an effective and efficient management system designed to handle all types of emergencies and incidents. ICS integrates a common and unified emergency planning structure, allowing for streamlined and coordinated response operations.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), ICS is based on 14 crucial management characteristics that contribute to its effectiveness. Companies are encouraged to incorporate these characteristics into their emergency management programs for optimal results.

Here is an overview of the 14 management characteristics of ICS:

  1. Common Terminology: Ensures that response groups and facilities use the same language, allowing for effective communication during an incident.

  2. Modular Organization: A response structure that can be easily expanded or contracted based on the size, complexity, and hazardous effects of an incident.

  3. Management by Objectives: Clear and specific objectives are established for incident management activities, and efforts are directed towards achieving them.

  4. Incident Action Planning: Guides response activities and captures the company’s priorities, objectives, strategies, protocols, and tactics.

  5. Manageable Span of Control: Resources are managed, communicated, and supervised effectively with a span of control limited to three to seven subordinates.

  6. Incident Facilities & Locations: Identifies operational support facilities in the vicinity of an incident for assistance.

  7. Comprehensive Resource Management: Keeps an accurate picture of available resources at all times.

  8. Integrated Communications: A communication plan that is interoperable and streamlined, ensuring effective communication during an incident.

  9. Establishment and Transfer of Command: The command function is clearly established and transferred if necessary during an incident response.

  10. Chain of Command and Unity of Command: Responsible parties and reporting relationships are identified, reducing confusion during an incident.

  11. Unified Command: Allows multiple agencies to work together effectively, preserving individual agency authority, responsibility, and accountability.

  12. Accountability: Processes and procedures are in place to ensure resource accountability during an incident.

  13. Dispatch/Deployment: Ensures that response resources are not overloaded by limiting the deployment of resources only when requested.

  14. Information and Intelligence Management: A process for gathering, analyzing, assessing, sharing, and managing incident-related information and intelligence.