ICS IV-Organizational Structure

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ICS Organizational Structure is all about recognizing the need for functional roles as incidents develop and designating them.

This is an advanced ICS module.

Structure Flexibility

Organizational structure is based on:

  • Size and complexity of the incident.
  • Specifics of the hazards or environment created by the incident.
  • Incident planning process and goals.

It is important to remember that:

  • Only functional roles that are necessary to achieve incident goals are activated.
  • An effective span of control must be maintained.

Span of Control

Span of control is key to effective incident management. As incidents expand and additional layers are created, the organizational structure grows., Maintaining an effective span of control is important because it helps with safety and accountability..

Monitoring the span of control in the ICS organization is a major responsibility of the Incident Commander. Optimally, span of control is five subordinates.

Span of control is influenced by:

  • Type and complexity of incident.
  • Nature of the task.
  • Distances between personnel and resources.
  • Hazards and safety factors.

Scope & Delegation of Authority

Within his or her scope of authority, the Incident Commander has authority to establish incident goals, determines strategies, resources needed, and ICS structure.

A delegation of authority may be needed when:

  • The incident is outside the Incident Commander’s jurisdiction.
  • The incident scope is complex or beyond existing abilities.
  • Required by law or procedures.

For example the landowner delegates authority to the firefly Board and Event Leads to run Firefly.

  • We have no jurisdiction on a neighbor’s property.
  • We have no ability to fight a forest fire.
  • We are required to report a death at the event.

Functional Roles in Detail


The Incident Commander has overall authority and responsibility for conducting

incident operations, establishing goals and selecting strategies. The Incident Commander performs all ICS responsibilities unless these functional roles are activated. When activated an Incident Commander assigns staff to needed functional roles to assist with managing the incident.

Organizing the Command Staff

All Command Staff work directly to the IC. These are roles that have specific functions which the IC can appoint another volunteer to do. The Command Staff is organized by function and includes sections such as:

  • Liaison
  • Safety
  • Public Information
  • Deputy IC

Liaison serves as the primary contact for external agencies assisting during an incident.

  • The default person to fill this role is the Board on Call.
  • Other volunteer options to handle interfacing with Law Enforcement/EMS/ Fire other external agencies could be: Ranger OOD, Ranger Lead, Khaki, Event Lead.
  • Tasks include:
    • Communication to/from outside agencies

Safety monitors conditions and develops measures for assuring the safety of all volunteers and participants.

  • The default person to fill this role is the Event Lead.
  • Other volunteer options to handle the monitoring of incident safety could be: Ranger OOD, Ranger Lead, DPW Lead, Khaki, Board on Call.
  • Tasks include:
    • Monitor scene safety
    • Monitor volunteer safety
    • Monitor community safety

Public Information serves as the primary contact for anyone who wants information about the incident and the response to it.

  • The default person to fill this role is the Board on Call.
  • Other volunteer options to handle speaking to the public about incidents and our response could be: Ranger OOD, Ranger Lead, Khaki, Event Lead.
  • Tasks include:
    • Communicates with public

Deputy IC

The IC may have an assistant or a deputy. The two primary reasons to designate a Deputy Incident Commander are to:

  • Perform specific tasks as requested by the Incident Commander.
  • Perform the incident command function in a relief capacity (e.g., to take over for the next operational period). In this case, the Deputy will assume the primary role.
  • There is no default assigned to this role.
  • Volunteer options to assume Deputy IC could be: Ranger OOD, Ranger/Medical/Sanctuary/FAST Lead, Board, Event Lead.

Organizing the Get-ers, Plan-ers and Administrat-or’s or the General Staff

All General Staff reports directly to the IC. The General Staff is organized by function and includes sections such as:

  • Operations
  • Planning & Administration
  • Logistics

If there are many Core Operations Leads assign an:

Operations Lead manages Operations Crew Leads and keeps track of their response.

  • Operations Lead is going to vary with each incident depending on incident type.
  • Volunteer options could be Ranger OOD, Ranger Lead, Khaki, Medical Lead, Sanctuary Lead, Medical Supervisor, Sanctuary Supervisor, Fire/Fast Supervisor, Fire/FAST Lead.
  • Reports to the IC on operations execution.
  • Works with the IC to determine incident goals and recommended strategies.

Planning & Administration supports the incident action planning process by tracking resources, collecting/analyzing information, and maintaining documentation.

  • Responsible for gathering and disseminating information and intelligence critical to the incident.
  • Khaki is the default person to fill Planning & Administration
  • Other volunteer options could be Ranger OOD or Ranger Lead.
  • Tasks include:
    • Tracking resources like volunteers available
    • Collecting incident information
    • Maintaining documentation
    • Communicating information

Logistics arranges for resources and needed services to support achievement of the incident objectives including communications, supplies, facilities and ground support.

  • Khaki is the default person to fill Logistics.
  • Other volunteer options could be Ranger OOD or Ranger Lead.
  • Tasks include:
    • Arranging volunteers available
    • Transportation
    • Needed resources.

Organizing to Do-ers or Operations

Operations volunteers report to the IC, Core Operations Lead or Operations Lead whichever is activated.

Operations (Do-ers) execute tasks to meet goals.

  • Operations crews could include volunteers from Rangers, Medical, Fire/FAST, Sanctuary, DPW, Security.
  • Operations is responsible for all activities focused on reducing the immediate hazard, saving lives and property, establishing situational control, and restoring normal order.
  • Operations is typically one of the first organizations to be assigned to the incident and has the most incident resources.

As we reach span of control we need a way to organize the mass of volunteers into crews for accountability and safety.

Operations Crew Lead manage operations crews.

  • The IC may assign one person to lead and manage each operations crew.
  • These could include branches such as Rangers, Medical, FAST, Sanctuary, DPW, Security.
  • As an Operations Crew Lead you will organize and keep track of volunteers in your crew to ensure efficiency and manage execution to meet incident goals.