Incident Command System (ICS)

The concept of the Incident Management System (ICS) was developed several decades ago, in the aftermath of a devastating wildfire in California. Over the course of 13 days in 1970, 16 people lost their lives, 700 physical structures were destroyed and over one-half million acres burned. Although all of the responding agencies cooperated to the best of their effort and ability, numerous problems with communication and coordination hampered their effectiveness. As a result, Congress mandated the US Forest Service to design a system that would “make a quantum jump in the capabilities of Southern California wildland fire protection agencies to effectively coordinate interagency action and to allocate suppression resources in dynamic, multiple-fire situations.” ICS is based on proven management tools that contribute to the strength and efficiency of the overall system and includes concepts such as common terminology, modular organization, and management by objectives.

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