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Aurnhammer, Thomas W. The Incident Command System and its Application to Fire Investigations. Firehouse. Vol. 19 No. 6 (June 1994). p 92-94.

Abstract: Training for fire investigators has improved in many areas. One category that remains deficient, however, is training in the management skills required to direct a successful, large-scale investigation.

The ICS, or Incident Command System, can provide the structure needed for such an investigation. The ICS incorporates multiple agencies and jurisdictions. Familiarity with this system will facilitate communication and division of responsibility. A typical ICS organization chart is illustrated. The sections, falling under the Fire Investigation Commander (Incident Command) with Command Staff, are as follows; Operations, Planning, Logistics and Financial.

Regardless of size, every incident requires a commander who is responsible for overall management of the situation. He or she is also accountable for safety and will serve as the outside agency liaison. The operations section is responsible for all phases of the on-scene and follow-up investigation. The planning section will accumulate and study all information regarding the investigation and relay it accordingly. The logistics section is responsible for organizing the services and support staff needed to perform and conclude the investigation. Finally, the finance section will document all expenses, obtain purchase authorizations and process all financial related paperwork.

The ICS system is designed to be flexible and should be adjusted as demands of the investigation change. Operations are designed around management by objectives, limit supervisory span-of-control to no more than seven subordinates, and facilitate structured sharing and recording of data. Ideal for large investigations, it can be used on smaller scenarios as a training tool. The basic needs of any emergency are the same; someone must be in command, assessing the situation and resources, determining a course of action, monitoring effectiveness and modifying the plan to meet the situationís needs. All the necessary tasks must be accomplished and team members must communicate.

The ICS is best implemented when efforts are made to pre-plan and cooperate with other agencies before an incident occurs. It is helpful to notify other organizations of your intention to utilize ICS.

For more information, contact:
PTN Publishing Corporation
445 Broad Hollow Road, Ste 21
Melville, NY 11747
Phone: (516) 845-2700

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