Fire Engineering Training Community

Where firefighters come to talk training

For some truly unfortunate reason there seems to have been a number of chaotic events in my state over the last few months. Wildfires, two Police LODDs and most recently the devastating mass murder and assault in an Aurora movie theater that left over 70 injured and 12 dead at the time of writing this.

Regarding the Aurora shooting specifically my neighbor asked me yesterday, “How can you even prepare for something like that?” I provided a stock answer of MCI drills, multi-agency coordination and inter-operable radios. As this drabble of information was leaving my mouth I began to really wonder how have we realistically prepared for arriving  to the chaos of hundreds of people in panic of sheer terror; over 50 wounded by gun shots and shrapnel and a dozen dead. I thought that thankfully fire and EMS are at least trained in rapid triage of patients but the initial responding police officers who began loading victims into patrol cars are probably not.

It wasn’t too long ago a friend of mine shared The Missing Piece of NIMS: Teaching Incident Commanders How to Func... by Cynthia Renaud. Mrs. Renaud is a police chief however her views and description of shortcomings in the NIMS system and delivery could be drawn directly from the kitchen table of my firehouse

The point of this post is to simply direct you to the document written by Chief Renaud and consider proper preparation to face chaos. I appreciate what NIMS has done by providing many with the infrastructure necessary to manage large incidents; common terminology, format and procedure. I also believe that we have failed in application because NIMS training has taught the masses to manage and very few how to respond. In the real world, the masses respond and a few manage.

Please click the link below for the full PDF from The Journal of the Naval Postgraduate School
Center for Homeland Defense and Security

The Missing Piece of NIMS: Teaching Incident Commanders How to Func...


Views: 673


You need to be a member of Fire Engineering Training Community to add comments!

Join Fire Engineering Training Community

Comment by Ron Becknell on August 4, 2012 at 9:23pm

Great post and comments.  I have always noticed with the MCI drills that I have been involved with in our area that things are so well planned out that the "responders" already know the details of what's going on and what is expected of them, which gives them hours to prepare rather than minutes or seconds which is what will be expected.  Then at the end it always seems as though noone wants to really discuss the problems or potential mistakes for fear of upsetting someone.  Which often times (I think) gives everyone a false since of security.

Comment by Robert Rhoades on July 24, 2012 at 8:17pm

An excellent comment indeed.  Unfortunately, NIMS has been shoved down the throats of many and it should have been.  Also unfortunate is the fact that the follow up to the initial NIMS training seems to be minimal.  As a firefighter, I welcomed ICS 20 years ago, unfortunately my use of it came in my retirement.  After a stint in the State Fire Marshal's office, I moved on to become the emergency response coordinator of a state health department.  People who had no thought process about emergency response, interoperability or NIMS were suddenly placed in a position where they had to.  Then along came 9/11/01 and it got worse.  The whole world changed and so did emergency response for lots of folks.  The training has been completed by all in good time.  State health organizations still ask for Position Specific training, over and over and over again.  But never is a class offered on how to put it all together.  That has to happen.  Since I've totally retired, many local health departments are calling me to fix what appears in the After Action Reports of their last exercise or response.  I've found that it's pretty simple to fix if you give them the tools.  The tools that we learn in the fire service by experience doesn't happen in non-public safety organizations.  A situation like the one in Colorado brings up a lot of old wounds for people not involved, and probably some new ones for those involved.  Brian's inclusion of the lack of triage training for law enforcement isn't the only problem.  It's the nature of the animal.  Fire and EMS are social animals, living, working, eating and sleeping together.  Our brothers and sisters in law enforcement are solitary animals, unfortunately.  They don't get the advantage of having a minute between calls to sit down and talk about these problems.  We have to have better command schools for all and train command officers all together all the time.  I intend to read Cynthia's paper and will contact her.  Thanks for the post.

Policy Page


The login above DOES NOT provide access to Fire Engineering magazine archives. Please go here for our archives.


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

We are excited to have you participate in our discussions and interactive forums. Before you begin posting, please take a moment to read our community policy page.  

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

FE Podcasts

Check out the most recent episode and schedule of

© 2023   Created by fireeng.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service