A Model Assessment Tool for the Incident Command System: A Case Study of the San Antonio Fire Department
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Purpose: Fire department administrators and emergency professionals must be willing to recognize, identify and administer an effective Incident Command System. The purpose of this applied research project is threefold. First, it describes the ideal components of an effective Incident Command System obtained from the literature. Second, it assesses the San Antonio Fire Departments Incident Command System using the ideal type components. Third, it provides recommendations for improving the San Antonio Fire Departments Incident Command System. A review of the literature identified five key components of an effective Incident Command System. The components include the responsibilities of the first arriving officer, responsibilities of the Incident Commander, overall scene safety, effective communications and professional development. Methodology: The components of an effective Incident Command System identified in the literature are used to construct the conceptual framework. The framework is used to create a practical ideal model assessment tool for the Incident Command System. The assessment tool is used to gauge the effectiveness of the San Antonio Fire Departments Incident Command System. A case study consisting of document analysis, structured interviews, and direct observation (via radio transmissions) is utilized to perform the assessment. Findings: The San Antonio Fire Departments Incident Command System is mostly consistent with the model assessment tool. However, Incident Command System training and officer development program need improvement. Hands on Incident Command System training is extremely limited and there appears to be no officer development program. These two elements should be addressed in order to improve the San Antonio Fire Department Incident Command System.