National Incident Management System (NIMS)

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NIMS provides a consistent framework for incident management at all jurisdictional levels, regardless of the cause, size, or complexity of the incident. Building on the Incident Command System (ICS), NIMS provides the nation’s first responders and authorities with the same foundation for incident management for terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and all other emergencies. NIMS requires that ICS be institutionalized and used to manage all domestic incidents.

NIMS integrates existing best practices into a consistent, nationwide approach to domestic incident management that is applicable at all jurisdictional levels and across functional disciplines. Six major components make up the NIMS system approach:

Command and Management: NIMS standard incident command structures are based on three key organizational systems:

  • ICS: ICS defines the operating characteristics, interactive management components, and structure of incident management and emergency response organizations engaged throughout the life cycle of an incident.
  • Multiagency Coordination Systems: Multiagency coordination systems define the operating characteristics, interactive management components, and organizational structure of supporting incident management entities engaged at the Federal, State, local, Tribal, and regional levels through mutual-aid agreements and other assistance arrangements.
  • Public Information Systems: Public information systems refer to processes, procedures, and systems for communicating timely and accurate information to the public during crisis or emergency situations.

Preparedness: Effective incident management begins with a host of preparedness activities conducted on a “steady-state” basis, well in advance of any potential incident. Preparedness involves an integrated combination of planning, training, exercises, personnel qualification and certification standards, equipment acquisition and certification standards, and publication management processes and activities.

Resource Management: NIMS defines standardized mechanisms and establishes requirements for processes to describe, inventory, mobilize, dispatch, track, and recover resources over the life cycle of an incident.

Communications and Information Management: NIMS identifies the requirements for a standardized framework for communications, information management (collection, analysis, and dissemination), and information sharing at all levels of incident management.

Supporting Technologies: Technology and technological systems provide supporting capabilities essential to implementing and refining NIMS. These include voice and data communications systems, information management systems (e.g., record keeping and resource tracking), and data display systems. Also included are specialized technologies that facilitate ongoing operations and incident management activities in situations that call for unique technology-based capabilities.

Ongoing Management and Maintenance: This component establishes an activity to provide strategic direction for and oversight of NIMS, supporting both routine review and the continuous refinement of the system and its components over the long term.