Policy: National Incident Management System (NIMS)


The purpose of this policy is to direct the use of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) in the event of an emergency or disaster. The University has also formally adopted NIMS as the system to use to manage an emergency or disaster.


The ultimate responsibility for command of emergency incidents occurring on the campus of Michigan State University lies with the Chief of Police (Chief) or designee. To assure control of emergencies, it is the policy of the Michigan State University Police Department (Department) to utilize NIMS, including Incident/Unified Command System structures.


Emergency Action Teams

Teams that are responsible for executing the building Emergency Action Plan.

Teams trained in the evacuation, shelter-in-place, and secure-in-place protocols for building occupants.

Team members are instructed to report to the Incident Command Post (ICP) to provide information about their building’s structure, issues occurring inside, and its occupants.

Protective Actions


Seeking shelter


National Incident Management System: National system for managing large incidents or disasters that utilize a common-operating picture concept and common terminology. Composed of several sub-systems.

Multi-Agency Coordination System: Combining multiple diverse governmental entities or agencies into a coordinated system using ICS principles to manage large scale events that cross jurisdictional boundaries.

Incident Command System Positions

Incident Commander (IC): The IC is responsible for the overall command and control of an incident or event.

Unified Incident Commander (UC): Unified Command protocols include multiple responsible functions/agencies acting in concert to manage a disaster or emergency; including an entity acting as a lead agency, as determined by the nature of the incident.

Safety Officer (SOFR): Responsible for assessing safety hazards, unsafe situations and recommending solutions to minimize risk.

Liaison Officer (LOFR): Provides the point of contact for assisting agencies; avoids duplication of efforts; and ensures maximum use of resources.

Public Information Officer (PIO): Interfaces with Communications and Brand Strategy (CABS), media and other appropriate agencies to provide an on-scene clearing point for the dissemination of information; thereby reducing the risk of conflicting or inaccurate information.

Operations Section Chief (OSC): Responsible for the direction and coordination of all tactical operations.

Planning Section Chief (PSC): Responsible for the collection, evaluation, dissemination, and completion of the Incident Action Plan (IAP).

Logistics Section Chief (LSC): Responsible for managing the service and support resources required for the incident.

Finance Section Chief (FSC): Supports the department and/or other University units responsible for tracking incident costs and evaluating financial needs.

Area Command: Established to oversee the management of a very large incident that involves multiple ICS organizations that may evolve over a period of time.

Five Phases of Planning

Understand the Situation: Gather records, analyze and display situational status to get a clear picture of the magnitude or impact of the situation.

Establish Incident Objectives and Strategy: Formulate and prioritize objectives in consultation with the IC.

Develop the IAP: Document the tactical direction and the specific resources needed to implement the strategy during the Pre-Planning Meeting.

Prepare the Final IAP: Put it in the format that is appropriate for the incident objectives being conducted and obtain approval to disseminate the IAP during the Ops Period Briefing.

Evaluate and Revise the IAP: During the operational period in place, continue to check the accuracy of the information and the planning process to make sure that the objectives are being met.

ICS Facilities

Incident Command Post (ICP)

A location staffed by the IC/UC where all incident operations, including direction, control, coordination, and resource management are directed.

The IC will announce on the radio the establishment of incident command and the ICP location, i.e. Holden Hall Incident Command Post is established at the southwest corner of Birch and Wilson Roads and I am assuming Incident Command.

Staging Area

Staging Area(s) are established for units to wait for deployment by the IC.

These units check in with the Staging Area Manager and await immediate assignment.

This area is established for the temporary location of available resources.

Base Station

Base Stations are established at a location to provide a location for rest and recovery of resources. Resources located in the base station are “out-of-service” and can be returned to service by the Base Station Manager.

The manager must establish a check-in procedure, respond to request for resources, and keep the IC informed of the status of resources.

A properly run base station provides for personnel safety and accountability, prevents premature deployment, and prevents freelancing.

Emergency Operations Center (EOC): A physical location at which coordination of information and resources to support incident management activities takes place.


NIMS and Incident/Unified Command Systems (ICS/UCS)

NIMS and ICS/UCS consists of one key official from each functional unit or department, i.e., police, fire, safety, emergency coordination, Infrastructure Planning and Facilities (IPF), Landscape Services and others appropriate to the incident.

The structure may also include key officials from neighboring jurisdictions affected by the incident.

A key resource to the Incident Commander (IC) is the facility Emergency Action Teams.

All such officials contribute to the command process by:

Determining overall goals and objectives

Jointly planning for tactical activities

Conducting integrated tactical operations

Maximizing the use of all assigned resources

Implementing ICS

Responding officers and the Department Duty Supervisor are responsible for implementing ICS. That IC can determine to operate under an Incident Command or a Unified Command structure, depending on the complexity or special needs of an incident. While the Department may never relinquish overall command of incidents occurring on the campus, the lead agency in a Unified Command structure provides particular expertise and leadership during the various phases of the incidents.

The Duty Supervisor may choose to order an evacuation of all or part of the affected areas and structures, areas threatened by the spread of the incident, and/or direct that particular traffic, crowd control, seeking shelter, securing-in-place, and entry/exit measures be taken.

The authority to take such actions may be found in University ordinances and/or in conjunction with the orders of a fire official acting within the performance of their duties based on law.

The Incident/Unified Commander(s) (IC/UC) is/are to be guided by training and prioritize actions taken based on (and in this order):

Life safety

Incident stabilization

Property preservation

Environmental impact

Agencies Utilizing Incident Command

Police Departments use ICS during the following types of disasters or emergencies:

Natural disasters and emergencies

Barricaded gunmen, active violence, persons displaying weapons, and hostage situations

Bomb threat and removal

Missing person or similar search and rescue

Evacuation and population protection operations

Disturbances, civil disorder and terrorist incidents

Special events

Criminal, traffic and other police incidents

Overall hazardous material incidents exclusive of the inner perimeter

Overall fire and explosion incidents, exclusive of fire ground

2. Environmental Health and Safety (EHS)

This agency carries some responsibility for the defensive containment; offensive action to prevent spread; and cleanup of hazardous materials in fixed site or transportation incidents occurring on the contiguous campus.

If the incident is a HAZWOPER Emergency, as elaborated in training or involving a fire that moves beyond the capabilities of EHS; the lead agency will be the East Lansing Fire Department (ELFD).

3. Fire Services

The Fire Incident Commander (Fire-IC) at the scene is in command of the fire ground, including associated structures.

The Fire-IC may choose to order an evacuation of all or part of adjacent areas and structures or areas threatened by the spread of the incident; expand or contract the perimeters; and/or direct that particular traffic, crowd control, and entry/exit measures be taken.

The Duty Supervisor will take all actions necessary to accomplish such directives.

The following is a list of emergencies managed by the Fire-IC.

Fire ground, regardless of location.

The hot and warm zones of fixed site and transportation hazardous material incidents that involve fire or other situations handled by ELFD or mutual aid response agencies.

Confined-space rescue

Heavy-rescue operations

Mass casualty site operations

At sites away from the contiguous campus, the Duty Supervisor will assist Fire-IC and other response agencies; including securing the assistance of university and other jurisdiction’s departments and persons.

ICS Structure and Duties

Command Staff Positions

Incident Command/Unified Command (IC/UC)

The IC/UC is/are responsible for the overall command and control of an incident or event; and are supported by the Command Staff and General Staff positions.

Duties not delegated by the IC/UC to another are retained by the IC/UC.

Safety Officer (SOFR)

Staffed by a person appropriate to the type of emergency.

The SOFR does not direct any portion of the incident, instead focusing on procedural safety.

Authorized to directly intervene or stop any unsafe action.

Liaison Officer (LOFR)

Coordinates obtaining, tracking and anticipating resource needs from assisting agency representatives.

Public Information Officer (PIO)

Coordinates all communications, both internally and externally, to provide accurate and timely information.

General Staff Positions

Operations Section Chief (OSC)

More than one operations section could be activated during an emergency.

Assists in developing strategic goals, tactical objectives, and selecting the mode of operations (offensive, defensive or marginal).

Develops operation plans.

Requests or releases resources through the Incident Commander.

Consults with and keeps the IC informed of the overall plan, situation, and resource status.

Supervises the perimeters and/or Staging Area Manager(s).

Planning Section Chief (PSC)

The IC is highly dependent on an accurate assessment of the incident’s potential and prediction of likely outcomes.

Collects, analyzes, evaluates and disseminates information regarding the incident and resources.

Leader for the “Planning-P” required meetings to prepare the IAP.

Logistics Section Chief (LSC)

Responsible to staff a branch director addressing communications, medical services for responders, and food/water needs.

Staff a branch director responsible for providing equipment, supplies and facilities for the incident.

Finance Section Chief (FSC)

Tracks personnel time and documents it properly.

Tracks costs for the incident and documents it properly.

Coordinates the damage assessment needs at an incident.

IC Initial Actions

Isolate the site by insuring personnel keep uphill/upwind of smoke, fumes and dust.

Establish an outer perimeter

All persons, including university, Department and facility occupants are not to pass the outer perimeter unless authorized by the IC.

In major or long duration incidents, the Emergency Management Division may be called upon to credential workers, volunteers and officials.

The Staging Area will normally be located outside of the outer perimeter, but may be located inside the inner perimeter depending the needs of the incident.

Personnel and equipment are moved to the Staging Area from the Base Station, as established.

Establish an inner perimeter

The area between the outer perimeter and inner perimeter is known as, the cold zone. The ICP, isolation (or holding) areas, triage, medical treatment sites, and hazardous materials dress out may be located in the cold zone.

Authorize Movement

All department personnel, officers and other persons including facility occupants authorized to pass the outer perimeter must remain in the cold zone.

Persons may not enter the inner perimeter unless authorized by the IC/UC.

Prepare Incident Documentation

Written documentation will include at a minimum an ICP Activity Log.

Those duties may be delegated to another General Staff position.

Other NIMS Features


This Department shall coordinate all operations occurring within the EOC.

Located in a permanently established site that is organized in an ICS format to allow overall coordination of large-scale events.

Coordinates with the ICP or Area Command Post that is/are located near incident operations and is focused on the tactical, on-scene response.

Activated through the Chief or designee and requires notification of the Department’s assigned Emergency Management Coordinator.

Appropriate notifications must be made to local and state Emergency Management divisions upon activation.

The Chief or designee will determine the staffing needs for the EOC, based on the needs of the incident.

Multiagency Coordination System

Used to manage large scale events that cross jurisdictional boundaries.

Commonly used with other local entities including:

Ingham County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Management

Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division

Department of Homeland Security

Area Command

Oversees management of the incident.

An Area Commander is required when you implement area command.