Fire Engineering Training Community

Where firefighters come to talk training

I had a discussion with a supervisor today regarding the NIMS terminology when referring to parts of a structure. My basic question is what the interpretation of the level of a structure is, i.e. when do you switch from calling yourself Division 1 to Division 2. The question was in regard to a structure like a 3 step ranch or quad level home where you have a small number of stairs that seperate areas of the house is that really a different level? I didn't really have a good answer, looking for some input from everyone else or someone had a department SOG with a good definition of what a level of a structure is. Thanks, stay safe out there.

Views: 3299

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

OK, a couple of things here. I'm not sure your question is at all related to NIMS terminology, but in fact is a good question on how you delineate your location level to level, which is of course of extreme importance.

I'd say if you're actually on the floor, then that's the level you transmit, if you're on the stairs: say that. Trying to apply perfect ICS /NIMS terminology to fit program guidance is wrong. We need firefighters to communicate their location in a manner that the personnel on scene understand where they are. If your FD uses "Divisions" for the floors, then use that. In our case we use First, Second, Third, etc. Saying Division 2 would not be conducive to rapid assistance while our members and/or M/A units scratch their heads.

While I've heard people say NIMS requires the use of Divisions for floors, I've yet to see this. Can anyone actually cite a document where this is actually a requirement. We have a few in our region who think changing the system we've had for years is warranted due to NIMS. I say change for this reason is foolish at best, dangerous at worst.
I think that there is some confusion about the application of NIMS/ICS terminology. The term Division is a functional position in the ICS. A Division Supervisor is a tactical leader in a given geographic area responsible to lead and manage several (3-5) resource units such as single units, (engines, trucks or rescues) or strike teams or task forces. Division designates a level of management in the command structure and should be used if that position is activated by the overhead position such as Branch Director,Operations Section Chief or the IC.
If there are several units or fire companies operating inside a structure under the command of the IC then they would be identified as the unit number or crew function. They should report their location in the building as the exact location such as second floor, basement or attic.
James E. Graham said:
I think that there is some confusion about the application of NIMS/ICS terminology. The term Division is a functional position in the ICS. .
I'm think this is where there maybe some confusion? NIMS uses Division and Groups as a way to further divide a Section or Branch. Divisions are used when you assign this new "section" by geographical means, Group is used when you do it by function. The guys assigned to to vent the roof could be either the Roof Division or the Ventilation Group.
I don't see this as a level of management as you say, but more of an operational section. If you were asked where you were assigned, you might answer in the "North Division" or "Downtown Division". To be a Division Supervisor you must have a Division to be responsible for.

Of course the point we can agree on here is that trying to apply NIMS terminology by the book without regard to how you operate daily could have an adverse effect on those trying to do so under emergency conditions.
If there is some concern in your organization in regards to Division naming in buildings which do not exactly fit our normal floor definitions, how about using the designations of Division One Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and so on to distinguish them from regular floor divisions.
This is the definition of Divisions from the Instructor's manual for ICS 100, Page 3 of the Glossary at the end of Unit 1
Division: Divisions are used to divide an incident into geographical areas of operation. A Division is located within the ICS organization between the Branch and the Task Force/Strike Team. (See Group.) Divisions are identified by alphabetic characters for horizontal applications and, often, by floor numbers when used in buildings.

The other thing to consider is has the I.C made a 360 walk around. If you go to http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/fire/reports/face200405.html You can read read the report on a Fatal in Pennsylvania. What is worth looking at is the pictures from the front the structure looks like a two story yet from the back it is a 3 story if you count the basement as a floor, which I always did as an I.C. if it could be directly accessed.
I agree with James Graham's definition of Division Supervisor as a tactical leader in a geograhical area, managing several units. On a smaller operation, he may be 'Division Alpha' if he's located on the exterior, or could be 'Division 1' if he were to be on the interior, again managing several units. But the units who are working inside, e.g. an engine company working it's way up the stairway, would not be geograhically re-named. If they arrive as Engine 27, they remain as Engine 27. Designations should not change for task units, only for supervisory positions, e.g. 'Battalion 4' may be assigned as 'Division 1'.

I don't agree with the implication that Divisions and Groups are formed when 'activated by higher level positions, such as the Branch Director or Operations Officer'. While the Planning, Logistics and Financial Sections are usually formed from the top-down, the Operations Section should be formed from the 'bottom up', with the IC assigning at least the initial supervisors. Branch Directors and the Operations Officer are used when the span of control dictates, i.e. when the number of Divisions/Groups exceeds a manageable span of control for the IC.
And yes, Engine 27 should be reporting their position every time it changes.
I understand that a Division is a level in the command structure, but lets just say you have a incident that requires the IC to break up the interior operations into Divisions on each level following ICS 100. So there is the question, if you are in a large single family home (like some that we have in our still district up to 20,000 sq ft.) and these homes tend to have weird floor levels. You may go up a flight of stairs to a landing and go up different flights from that landing to other levels the split. Or like William stated in the question in a three step ranch when you go up the three steps to get to the bedroom locations are you on a second level which would make you Division 2 per the ICS 100 glossary.

My opinion is we can not prepare for every floor plan or house layout. I feel that it will take a strong command presence by who ever is going to be the first (of what may be many) Division leaders, to make it VERY CLEAR that the structure that the incident is happening in has a different floor elevations than the "normal house". That person will set the tone of how the structure will be divided for the rest of the Divisions in that building. When that is made clear on the fireground hopefully that will get everyone on the same page.
Matt Peksa said:
I understand that a Division is a level in the command structure, but lets just say you have a incident that requires the IC to break up the interior operations into Divisions on each level following ICS 100. So there is the question, if you are in a large single family home (like some that we have in our still district up to 20,000 sq ft.) and these homes tend to have weird floor levels. You may go up a flight of stairs to a landing and go up different flights from that landing to other levels the split. Or like William stated in the question in a three step ranch when you go up the three steps to get to the bedroom locations are you on a second level which would make you Division 2 per the ICS 100 glossary.

My opinion is we can not prepare for every floor plan or house layout. I feel that it will take a strong command presence by who ever is going to be the first (of what may be many) Division leaders, to make it VERY CLEAR that the structure that the incident is happening in has a different floor elevations than the "normal house". That person will set the tone of how the structure will be divided for the rest of the Divisions in that building. When that is made clear on the fireground hopefully that will get everyone on the same page.
This is why NIMS may not be suitable for every day ICS. Why try and apply some confusing division assignment for something so important. Use what your FD trains and knows. Do you need a "Division" level assignment for a crew or two working on the second floor? How many crews are reporting to the "Interior Ops" officer? Applying multiple levels to meet NIMS is misaligned. I have yet to see where anyone says we must use these terms for every geographical area of any operation? Anyone? NIMS is an ICS tool, not an ICS system and does not dictate tactics or operations. People are taking this far to far, to the point that it will create confusion at the worst possible time. Sorry to rant.
Like Adam said, you don't need to create Divisions and Groups when they're not needed. Five teams can work directly under the IC , without divisions/groups, without exceeding the recommended span of control. If several are inside or in one geographical area, you have the option of making that area a division, with a division supervisor, e.g. "Interior". You don't have to create a division on each floor. And you never would create a division with one team.

The ICS is a toolbox; use only the tools you need. NIMS was created to try to standardize ICS usage to facilitate smoother operations at large-scale incidents when units that don't usually work together are suddenly part of a major operation. It was never intended to change the Incident Command System. When I took I700 and I800, I never noticed anything that I felt conflicted with what I had learned previously in ICS.
William,
It looks like you have some gerat answers below. I think Jim Saldutti has nailed it pretty good. There is often confusion in this area and Jim has simplified it for you. The key is communication, resources assigned to a task really need to communicate their location.

We commonly use "Division" when working multiple story structures such as apartment buildings or commercial buildings. In the situation you have mentioned, a single family dwelling, we typically would not assign interior divisions(supervisors). Such as Division 1 or Division 2. I agree with Jim that you can keep their company identifier, Engine 1 or Truck 1, as long as it doesn't get beyond the IC's span of control. Another option, would be to use thier functional assignment such as "Fire Attack" or "Search", but either way it is important for the crews to update their location and progress.

A couple of things about Divison. First, if a resource is given a Division assignment, their responsibility is to supervise that specific geographic area and should not be given a task that would preclude them or interfere with thier role of supervising. For Example, a resource given the task of Fire Attack on a third floor apartment fire should not be assigned Divison 3. Thier task as fire attack does not give them the luxury of supervising the entire floor. Secondly, It can also be used to describe a geographic area. For example, Engine Two Check for extension on Divison 2.

To save all of us from the boredom of my opinions, I have attached an SOG for your perusal should you be interested. Good Luck.
Attachments:
Wow! Great job on the SOGs. Not only the content, which is right on, but the photos and example panels take SOGs to a new level.

Reply to Discussion

RSS

Policy Page

CONTRIBUTORS NOTE

Our contributors' posts are not vetted by the Fire Engineering technical board, and reflect the views and opinions of the individual authors. Anyone is welcome to participate.

For vetted content, please go to www.fireengineering.com/archive/.

Fire Engineering Editor in Chief Bobby Halton
We are excited to have you participate in our discussions and interactive forums. Before you begin posting, please take a moment to read our policy page. -- Bobby Halton

Be Alert for Spam
We actively monitor the community for spam, however some does slip through. Please use common sense and caution when clicking links. If you suspect you've been hit by spam, e-mail peter.prochilo@clarionevents.com.

FE Podcasts


Check out the most recent episode and schedule of
UPCOMING PODCASTS

© 2021   Created by fireeng.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service