We learn the principles of incident command through the classes we take and we learn “How to Command” by experience.  I’m nerdy enough to admit that I enjoy all the classes; however, I understand that sometime the classroom part can be a bit overwhelming.  As we progress through 100, 200, 300 & 400 it becomes a complex bunch of information that is sometimes difficult to manage.  The real problem comes if we do not or cannot couple the classroom with experience then the information can be lost for our use when it’s really needed.  Lack of ICS experience is the real problem on the incident scene and failure of Command is unacceptable.


I have developed the “rules of incident command”.  These are only my rules and are presented here for your information.  I believe, if we do these 3 things we will nearly always be successful with command and conversely, if we do not accomplish these 3, we will nearly always fail in our command responsibilities.


  1. Manage the Span of Control.  The entire ICS has only one purpose which is to assist us with managing our span of control.
  2. Use the terms and definitions of ICS correctly.  This is essential to our success if we are to work effectively across agencies and jurisdictions.
  3. Make sure everyone goes home at the end of the incident.  We know our first responsibility is to protect “our” folks. That’s all the responders regardless of discipline.


Every incident is different; however, the “rules” always remain the same.  This allows us to fit all that we’ve learned into each incident scene.


I would appreciate your thoughts and comments.

Views: 143

Replies to This Discussion

Absolutely! Like your Style!
Agree 100%!I would like to pass these on if thats OK.
Thank you Chris, please remember these are just my thoughts regarding application of ICS. If this works for you, please pass it along as you wish. Thanks, John
John, I thought of this today as we have activated the EOC for "winter weather" which can be an emergency here on the Gulf Coast. One of my new co-cowrker, as we were creating the high level IAP for the 1st 24 hour op period wanted to dig and create much more work than was required. Sometines everyone needs a blast of the BASICS. These are everything that counts as far as ICS and the big picture.

Thanks again.
Thank you Nancy, I know you are terrific in the EOC. Now, "winter weather" is what Chicago had . . .

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