Incident Management Teams
See the cover feature on TVF&R's Incident Management Teams (IMTs) in the March 2005 Fire Chief (PDF).
Well before FEMA's All Hazard IMT program was even a concept, TVF&R started fielding multi-disciplinary, multi-jurisdictional IMTs that could respond to a full range of hazards and planned events. TVF&R maintains four IMTs, rotating on-call status on a weekly basis. The teams provide strategic incident management and support for incidents involving a large area, long duration, technical or political complexity, extraordinary impact on population, or any other aspect extending beyond routine response capabilities.
Staffing is skeletal, as the teams are intended for in/near-district response rather than external deployment.
Team members are responsible for arranging coverage for their position to account for regular duty schedules and vacation. Members are compensated for their on-call time as determined by their bargaining-unit and exempt status. On-call team positions include most standard Incident Command System (ICS) Command and General Staff positions.
Teams are notified on all second alarms and automatically dispatched on third alarms, but may be requested on any incident in entirety or by function.
Some positions have their own response protocol:
- All line Battalion and Division Chiefs are full trained as Safety Officers, ensuring that the Safety function is covered on all incidents, by automatic dispatch or on-scene request. Because of this coverage, the ISO position is not separately staffed on TVF&R's IMTs, but can be assigned as needed.
- On-call PIOs respond on all working fires and other noteworthy incidents, all IMT activations, and by request.
Aside from safety and public information, the most common position-specific request is for Logistics to provide support beyond standard rehab response on incidents of long duration (e.g., portable toilets, fencing, meals). In addition, an on-scene Incident Commander may request a partial activation of the Incident Management Team to an incident (e.g., Logistics only). As situations require, teams may be dispatched to staff TVF&R's Fire Operations Center (FOC) and/or assist in staffing city and county emergency operations centers (EOCs).
All Incident Management Team members must fulfill educational requirements and participate in regular training and exercises. In addition to standard training and drills for their regular assignments, IMT members receive a variety of training opportunities related to their team role.
Position-specific classes are offered in-house, with applications geared to local protocols, district operations, and regional capabilities. Team members also may enroll in external classes depending on availability (most have completed AHIMT position-specific classes or other standardized training), and several members also serve on state IMTs through the Oregon State Fire Marshal's Office or Oregon Department of Forestry. TVF&R's teams meet annually for combined training and updates, but most team-level training is accomplished through individual team drills and participation in district-wide full-scale or functional exercises.
- Incident Commander (IC)
- Deputy Incident Commander (DIC)*
- Liaison Officer (LNO)*
- Public Information Officer (PIO)
- Planning Section Chief (PSC)
- Logistics Section Chief (LSC)
*Not staffed on all teams
When an IMT responds to an incident scene, the IMT IC commonly performs a face-to-face transfer of command, and the relieved original IC becomes the Operations Section Chief within the command structure. This maintains operational continuity while transferring other responsibilities and concerns to the IMT, which includes maintaining the capability to provide emergency services throughout TVF&R's district, i.e., maintaining crew and duty-chief coverage according to predetermined minimum standards. The OSC position, however, is not separately staffed.
TVF&R staffs its Liaison Officer and some Logistics Chief positions with non-TVF&R employees: city, county, neighboring fire district, and private-sector staff comprise current external members. Bringing senior public works and police department staff into the IMTs helps promulgate ICS and emergency preparedness in the cities and counties that compose TVF&R's district, as well as serving the more political purposes already discussed. External IMT members can serve as champions for adopting/advancing ICS and preparedness within their own organizations. As budgets have tightened and personnel resources have become increasingly constrained, the number of external members has fluctuated, but TVF&R still carriers five external members on its IMTs.
As many major incidents require local law and public works response, TVF&R's external IMT members provide ready contacts with their peers elsewhere in the district, and help provide the Incident Commander with a more global perspective. As non-fire personnel, they can look outside the fire service "box" to ensure that relevant input from other sources is included and that other agencies are kept in the loop.
Planning & Logistics
TVF&R strengthens its IMTs by emphasizing the Planning and Logistics functions. For most incidents (and in most agencies) ICS staffing is centered around Command and Operations functions, because most incidents are short enough that the principal ICS support functions (Planning, Logistics, and Finance/Administration) are not needed or can easily be handled by standard protocols (e.g., rehab). Incidents that require IMT activation are more likely to require longer-term support functions. Most of TVF&R's Logistics and Planning Chiefs are non-line personnel, many with no prior background in response: only one third (including shared positions that allow for shift schedules) are line staff or duty chiefs.
Planning Section functions include monitoring situation status and resource status, as well as conducting the planning process for an incident: all of this is applied information management.
The Logistics Section is tasked with providing any material, service, and personnel support for incident response, e.g., food, drinking water, sanitation, temporary facilities, communications support, vehicle and equipment support
Logs Chiefs also perform finance functions on scenes (as needed). In addition, TVF&R's Logistics Chiefs support victim assistance activities on incident scenes.
Although there are many effective agencies dedicated with providing temporary shelter, food, supplies, and social services, TVF&R is likely to be the first agency victims encounter in an emergency and does not want to see anyone fall through the cracks. In addition to carrying resource directories for response needs, Logistics Chiefs also carry directories for a variety of social services, and have become accustomed to contacting social-service providers (public and private), translators, insurance companies, pharmacies, family members, and any other services that might be necessary until dedicated providers can take over.