With many large wildfires now burning in Montana, people are used to seeing references to firefighting terms such as "Type 2" teams and "ICS." But what do those terms mean?
The Incident Command System (ICS) is used to manage people and resources during several types of incidents, including rescues, hurricanes, and other types of disasters -- including wildland fires.
The National Park Service says that the Incident Command System (ICS) is flexible, scaling up or down as a fire's complexity changes and the needs of the incidents change.
Type 5 is the least complex, while Type 1 is the most complex.
Here is a brief summary of terms from the NPS:
Type 5: (very small wildland fire only)
Area command is established when an incident is so large that it must be divided and managed as two or more separate incidents; or when multiple, separate incidents with Incident Management Teams (IMT) must be managed. The role of area command is to provide oversight direction to multiple incidents rather than providing direct action on any one incident as a Type 1 or Type 2 IMT would. Area command manages the efforts of various Incident Commanders to ensure that the overall objectives are being met, to set priorities among incidents and to allocate scarce resources between incidents.
Summary of Definitions
Incident Command System—The management system used to direct all operations at the incident scene. The Incident Commander (IC) is located at an Incident Command Post (ICP) at the incident scene.
Unified Command—An application of ICS used when there is more than one agency with incident jurisdiction. Agencies work together through their designated Incident Commanders at a single incident command post (ICP) to establish a common set of objectives and strategies, and a single Incident Action Plan.
Area Command (Unified Area Command)—Established as necessary to provide command authority and coordination for two or more incidents in close proximity. Area Command works directly with Incident Commanders. Area Command becomes Unified Area Command when incidents are multi-jurisdictional. Area Command may be established at an EOC facility or at a location other than an ICP.
Multiagency Coordination (MAC)—An activity or a formal system used to coordinate resources and support between agencies or jurisdictions. A MAC Group functions within the MACs, which interact with agencies or jurisdictions, not with incidents. MACS are useful for regional situations. A MAC can be established at a jurisdictional Emergency Operations Center (EOC) or at a separate facility.
Emergency Operations Center (EOC)—Also called Expanded Dispatch, Emergency Command and Control Centers, etc. EOCs are used in various ways at all levels of government and within private industry to provide coordination, direction, and control during emergencies. EOC facilities can be used to house Area Command and MAC activities as determined by agency or jurisdiction policy.