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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.

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Ditto, excellent work!

Jim Saldutti said:
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.
I would not use the term division to identify a floor. I would use first, second etc. The use of the term division to identify floors of a building is an adaptation the fire service made to the basic ICS system. ICS purists would assert that divisions are always assigned letters (which is the forest service practice). Divisions in ICS refer to a geographic area and are created to maintain span of control. An engine company operating on the second floor of the building is simply a single resource. The incident commander may assign multiple resources to a geographic area and create a division for span of control. A "supervisor" is in charge of a division. I do not like the purist approach of only using letters for divisions...calling the first floor division A is asking for trouble particularly since we are using A, B, C, and D for sides. A division consisting of multiple resources and a supervisor should be named for the geographic area it is operating in. In smaller buildings there could be an interior division. The question of how to label floors is a good one particularly when you have buildings with more than one grade level access. The incident commander should stipulate as part of his size up how the floors will be designated. For example; the Maple St. grade level floor will be considered the first floor and the Pine St grade level will be the second floor.
I wonder what the "ICS purists" would have us call a division on the 27th floor? :)

This is a great question. I think this is a question that should be posed and discussed within your fire department as well as here on the Forum. It is vital that your organization have one commonly understood and used set of terms so that everyone has a understanding of the words and phrases being used. There's no time at an incident scene for confusion over what terms are being used and what they mean and you don't want to be using up precious radio air time asking and clarifying where crews are when the terms can be established and personnel trained in advance. Chances are good if you have this question in your mind, so do many others in your department. I encourage you to engage this as a local discussion and resolve it, document it into a Standard, and train everyone on that Standard.

Fire Chief (ret.) Richard B. Gasaway, PhD
I would like to expand on this subject in another direction - naming of response apparatus. Engine vs Rescue-Engine. Is the term Rescue-Engine allowed by NIMS? The only difference in items carried, extrication & stabilization toold for crashes.

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