How many nims management characteristics are there?

How many nims management characteristics are there?

The National Incident Management System (NIMS) is a standardized approach to incident management developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the United States. It provides a consistent framework for agencies and organizations at all levels of government, as well as the private sector and non-governmental organizations, to work together to prepare for, respond to, recover from, and mitigate the effects of incidents. One of the key components of NIMS is its management characteristics, which form the foundational principles for effective and efficient incident management.

Overview of NIMS Management Characteristics

NIMS outlines 14 essential management characteristics that contribute to a well-organized and effective response to incidents. These characteristics are designed to ensure that all responders have a common understanding of the organizational structures, processes, and terminologies that are necessary for successful incident management.

Common Terminology

One of the most crucial aspects of NIMS is the use of common terminology. This characteristic ensures that all responders and agencies involved in an incident use the same terms and definitions for critical functions, organizational elements, and incident facilities. Common terminology helps to eliminate misunderstandings and facilitates clear and effective communication during an incident.

Modular Organization

The modular organization characteristic refers to the scalable nature of the incident command system (ICS) structure. The organization can expand or contract based on the size and complexity of the incident. This flexibility allows for efficient management of resources and personnel, ensuring that the incident command structure remains effective regardless of the incident’s scope.

Management by Objectives

Management by objectives involves establishing specific, measurable goals and objectives for the incident response. These objectives guide the planning and execution of response activities and provide a clear focus for all personnel involved. By setting achievable goals, the incident management team can measure progress and make necessary adjustments to their strategies.

Incident Action Planning

Incident action planning is a fundamental aspect of NIMS. It involves the development of an incident action plan (IAP) that outlines the strategies, tactics, and resources needed to achieve the incident objectives. The IAP is a dynamic document that is regularly updated to reflect the current situation and ensure that all responders are working towards the same goals.

Manageable Span of Control

Maintaining a manageable span of control is essential for effective incident management. This characteristic ensures that supervisors can adequately manage and supervise their subordinates. The optimal span of control is typically between three to seven individuals, which helps prevent supervisors from becoming overwhelmed and ensures effective oversight of personnel and resources.

Incident Facilities and Locations

Incident facilities and locations are designated areas where specific functions related to the incident response are carried out. These may include incident command posts, staging areas, bases, camps, and helibases. Clearly identifying and designating these locations helps to streamline operations and improve coordination among responders.

Comprehensive Resource Management

Comprehensive resource management involves the systematic process of identifying, acquiring, allocating, and tracking resources. This characteristic ensures that all resources, including personnel, equipment, and supplies, are effectively managed and utilized during an incident. Proper resource management helps to avoid shortages and ensures that the necessary assets are available when needed.

Integrated Communications

Integrated communications is the establishment and maintenance of a common operating picture through the use of interoperable communication systems and protocols. This characteristic ensures that all responders can communicate effectively, share information, and coordinate their actions. Integrated communications are essential for maintaining situational awareness and ensuring a coordinated response.

Establishment and Transfer of Command

The establishment and transfer of command characteristic involves designating an incident commander (IC) at the beginning of an incident and ensuring a smooth transition of command if the IC changes. This process helps to maintain continuity of operations and ensures that there is always a clear leader directing the response efforts.

Chain of Command and Unity of Command

Chain of command refers to the orderly line of authority within the ranks of the incident management organization. Unity of command means that each individual involved in the incident reports to only one designated supervisor. These principles help to maintain accountability, prevent confusion, and ensure that all personnel understand their roles and responsibilities.

Unified Command

In incidents involving multiple jurisdictions or agencies, unified command is established. This characteristic allows representatives from various organizations to work together and make joint decisions. Unified command ensures that all agencies involved in the response have a shared understanding of the incident objectives and strategies, fostering collaboration and coordination.


Accountability is a critical aspect of incident management. It involves establishing processes to ensure that all personnel are accounted for, their activities are tracked, and they follow established policies and procedures. Accountability helps to enhance the safety and efficiency of the response efforts and ensures that resources are used appropriately.


Dispatch/deployment refers to the systematic and coordinated deployment of resources to the incident site. This characteristic ensures that resources are deployed in a timely and efficient manner and that they arrive at the correct location ready to perform their assigned tasks. Effective dispatch and deployment are crucial for a swift and effective response.

Information and Intelligence Management

Information and intelligence management involves the collection, analysis, and dissemination of information and intelligence related to the incident. This characteristic ensures that decision-makers have access to accurate and timely information, enabling them to make informed decisions and develop effective strategies.

The Importance of NIMS Management Characteristics

The NIMS management characteristics are designed to create a standardized approach to incident management that can be used by all responders, regardless of their agency or jurisdiction. By adhering to these characteristics, organizations can ensure a coordinated and effective response to incidents of all types and sizes.

Enhancing Coordination and Collaboration

One of the primary benefits of the NIMS management characteristics is the enhancement of coordination and collaboration among different agencies and organizations. By using common terminology, establishing unified command, and maintaining integrated communications, responders can work together more effectively and avoid the confusion that can arise from different organizational structures and terminologies.

Improving Efficiency and Effectiveness

The NIMS management characteristics also help to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the response efforts. By using a modular organization, maintaining a manageable span of control, and implementing comprehensive resource management, incident managers can ensure that resources are used efficiently and that personnel are not overwhelmed by their responsibilities.

Ensuring Safety and Accountability

Safety and accountability are critical aspects of any incident response. The NIMS management characteristics help to ensure that all personnel are accounted for, that their activities are tracked, and that they follow established safety protocols. This focus on safety and accountability helps to protect responders and the public and ensures that the response efforts are conducted in a responsible manner.

Facilitating Adaptability and Flexibility

The flexible and scalable nature of the NIMS management characteristics allows organizations to adapt to the changing nature of incidents. Whether an incident is small and simple or large and complex, the NIMS framework can be adjusted to meet the needs of the situation. This adaptability is crucial for effective incident management, as it allows responders to respond quickly and effectively to any changes in the incident dynamics.

Supporting Continuous Improvement

Finally, the NIMS management characteristics support a culture of continuous improvement. By regularly reviewing and updating the incident action plan, collecting and analyzing information and intelligence, and conducting after-action reviews, organizations can learn from their experiences and continually improve their incident management capabilities.


The NIMS management characteristics provide a comprehensive framework for effective and efficient incident management. By adhering to these principles, organizations can enhance coordination and collaboration, improve efficiency and effectiveness, ensure safety and accountability, facilitate adaptability and flexibility, and support continuous improvement. Understanding and implementing these characteristics is essential for any organization involved in incident response, as they form the foundation for a successful and coordinated response to incidents of all types and sizes.

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