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The Kitchen Table Debrief – CHAOS and ICS

The Kitchen Table Debrief – CHAOS and ICS

Ed Raposo

The incident is in chaos before you even get there. You can’t prevent it; you can only work within it until such time as you can start controlling it. It will take time. You need resources to control it. You need to have enough resources to fill out the ICS structure. That will take time. The question is: How long will the chaos last before you can begin to effect the change? That is the challenge for all of us.

CHAOS = Chief Has Arrived On Scene. That’s a funny line, but the control of the incident can’t be implemented until the Chief (or senior officer trained in ICS with the authority to carry it out) arrives. Incidents are chaos. An incident with ICS applied, eventually becomes controlled. An incident without ICS remains chaos. Do you need ICS to bring an incident to conclusion? No. But if you implement ICS, you will gain control much faster and more efficiently. Remember, we don’t have to put fires out either. Eventually, they put themselves out when they run out of things to burn. The key is: We want to mitigate the incident quickly and efficiently. That’s why we put water on fire, and ICS on chaos…

Do a size up. A good size up. Have an accountability system ready to go with minimal personnel initially. Don’t worry about implementing all branches of ICS until you have enough staff on scene. Remember, ICS is there to help you mitigate the incident. Like many of you, I have taken the NIMS courses: ICS-0100, ICS-0200, ICS-0300, ICS-400, ICS-700, and ICS-800. The message is consistent: ICS is a guideline. It is a structure, or a framework. A tool. With the exception of some key roles that must be filled immediately (IC, Operations, RIT…) implement ICS as soon as you can safely and reasonably staff the positions.

If future articles, I’ll give you a few suggestions on how to implement this.

Stay Safe!

Chief Ed Raposo, (Ret.)

This series of articles takes on a very informal approach of discussing key aspects of Fire Service issues relevant to today’s firefighters and officers. Similar to a post-incident debriefing back at the firehouse, this series, titled “The Kitchen Table Debrief – ” will hopefully foster discussion, and possibly, we may learn something along the way!


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