Quad Cities Sub-area Contingency Plan

IX. Incident Command

  1. ICS Implementation Protocol Addressing State and Federal Responders

    An ICS shall be established at all incidents involving hazardous substances by the senior on-scene official of the first response organization to arrive at an incident. The ICS should be based on the organization, terminology, and procedures recommended by the National Fire Academy and applied in a broad sense to include all hazard control and mitigation response organizations including RPs, private responders; and local, state, and federal agencies. All such entities participating in a response are required by federal law to implement an intra-organizational ICS and integrate it with the overall ICS (29 CFR 1910.120 or 40 CFR 311).

    The ICS established will have as the IC the most senior on-scene official with the expertise, capability and determination to be the commander. The IC can be from a local unit of government or from a county, state or federal agency, as long as he/she has the expertise, capability, determination and authority. This protocol recognizes that typically, but not necessarily, the IC will change as the incident progresses from being primarily a public safety problem, with the local fire chief as IC, to an environmental incident, with a state or federal person as the IC. The following procedures specify a determinate yet flexible means of establishing the role of federal and state responders in an ICS.

    1. Single Jurisdictional Area Affected

      When the incident involves and affects only a single local geographical jurisdiction, the organizational structure of the ICS will be determined by the established local contingency plan. This may involve single or multiple agency involvement. In all situations, one person shall act as either an IC in sole charge or, when functioning as an Operations Chief, will implement the action plan of a UCS.

      In such instances, responding state and federal officials who might otherwise be considered the senior competent emergency response official at the site, shall either:

      • Identify themselves to the IC and integrate themselves into the established ICS per the IC's direction, usually as a technical specialist to an operations group supervisor or as an operations group supervisor; or
      • Join an existing UCS or request the IC to establish a UCS; or
      • Assume the IC role when required by federal or state law, or when an existing IC agrees to such a transition, or when no ICS has been established.

      The ICS transfer of command or initial assumption of command protocols shall be used.

    2. Multiple Jurisdictional Areas Affected

      When the incident involves and affects multiple local geographical jurisdictions or areas not covered by local emergency response organizations, the state or federal competent senior official at the site shall either:

      • Preferably join an existing incident command or unified command as in IX A. 1.; or
      • Establish a unified command for an encompassing ICS, if none exists; or
      • Assume incident command and establish an ICS incorporating existing local efforts as operations section branches or otherwise as appropriate.

    3. Local, State, Federal Interaction

      When not specifically prescribed, a UCS consisting of local, state and federal senior competent emergency response officials at the site shall be the preferred approach to integrating several levels of government into an ICS. Where state law specifies incident command assignment, it shall take precedence over this protocol with respect to those state and local organizations to which it applies. Federal jurisdiction specified in CERCLA, OPA, or the respective RCP or RICP shall take precedence over this protocol.

    4. Seniority

      Seniority, as discussed in 29 CFR 1910.120 (q)(3)(i), is ranked according to competency and breadth of responsibility for purposes of this plan.

      Competency will be determined by meeting the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.120 (q)(6)(v). All officials meeting the competency criteria are senior to those who do not, unless specifically charged with overriding authority applicable to the specific incident situation by state or federal law.

      Breadth of responsibility will be considered to increase from most local to state to federal. However, this protocol encourages the establishment of the ICS at the most local level practicable to assure the earliest implementation of a unified response strategy.

    5. Post-Emergency Operations

      This protocol is intended only to apply during the emergency phase of a response to which 29 CFR 1910.120 (q) applies. However, use of an ICS throughout a response and cleanup is encouraged.

  2. Transition of Command
    1. Unified Command System

      Because oil and hazardous materials incidents involve many players and changes through time, it is important that the leadership, responsibilities and roles during a dynamic response action be established. Some responders serve as support players, while others have a command role. Rarely is one person or organization solely responsible for all aspects of a response to an incident involving oil or hazardous materials. An organizational chart reflecting such a circumstance is shown in Figure 3 (PDF).

      A very large incident involving oil or hazardous substances might include responders from many different organizations, each responding according to their responsibilities and authorities. If the incident affects a wide geographic area, or if several functions need to be performed by agencies with distinctly different capabilities, a transition may occur from a single IC to a UCS. The local IC, or a state or federal OSC, may recommend the formation of a UCS.

      Upon agreement, the qualified individuals assume command roles. Unified command is not command by committee, but rather is a mechanism for coordination, cooperation, and communication, under which each party is allowed to operate in its appropriate sphere of command. Each organization shares the same command responsibilities within an ICS. An example of a unified command organizational structure is shown in Figure 4 (PDF).

      When a UCS is implemented, the local IC and the state and/or federal OSC(s) meet and take the following measures:

      • Agree to act in concert, or at least coordinate efforts,
      • Agree on objectives, priorities and strategies,
      • Recognize each other's authorities, capabilities, limitations, responsibilities, and roles, and
      • Establish lines and methods of communication.

      Any single organization's command influence typically grows or shrinks as the incident continues, and as its area of responsibility and expertise come into or go out of play. The unified command group may appoint a single person to carry out the command decisions. The rest of the response functions (planning, operations, logistics and finance) usually will also be "unified" by commingling responders of the various organizations.

      The unified command and response generally continue until the response is terminated, or the roles of all but one level of government have diminished to the point when the primary level of government provides a single IC. The transition to a single Incident Commander will again be made through the mutual agreement of the members of the unified command. The agency that provides the IC will then be responsible for implementing procedures for termination of the response.

    2. Oversight Command

      The single or unified command ICS models were originally designed to facilitate the coordination and communication within one organization, or among several organizations. Organizations that share a unified command cooperatively respond to an incident as equal partners with different capabilities. A company or person responsible for a spill must plan, propose, organize, and pay for response to the spill. Government's role is to oversee the RP's response, to order changes if a response is insufficient, and ultimately to approve the adequacy of the RP's response. The integration of the government's regulatory relationship to an RP into the ICS requires the concept of oversight command.

      When a responsible party is incapable or unwilling to provide an adequate response to a release, or where there is a th eat to the public health or safety, the single or unified command systems are implemented by government agencies in the manner described previously. However, when an RP is capable and willing to respond, and the release represents more of a threat to the environment than to the general public, the government agencies support and oversee the efforts of the RP. The governmental agencies accomplish these tasks by establishing parallel single or unified command systems.

      The governments overseeing the RP's response will have a person or persons in charge of that oversight. If more than one government agency is conducting oversight, responders will coordinate that oversight according to the principles of the UCS. Depending upon the circumstances of the incident, the governmental agencies might have contractors assisting the Oversight Commander(s).

      The RP's IC and the government's Oversight Commander(s) will meet and agree on cleanup response objectives and priorities. The government's Oversight Commander(s) will typically determine the cleanup target and schedule. The two (or more if unified) commanders meet frequently to update each other on cleanup progress and to revise objectives and schedules. Significant problems identified within the ranks of either the RP's or governmental organizations are discussed and resolved. Requests for formal approvals for such actions as mitigation, decontamination, and disposal are made from the RP's IC to the Oversight Commander(s). Figure 5 (PDF) demonstrates an organizational chart for an oversight command.

    3. Federal Preemption

      The NCP gives an FOSC the authority to direct all response efforts at the scene of a discharge or release. Typically, an FOSC will support the actions of local and state government. Even an FOSC who is part of a UCS might focus federal efforts on a specific part of the response.

      In some cases, however, the FOSC might determine that he or she must use preemptive authority to direct all efforts at the scene. Such a determination would be appropriate under the following circumstances:

      • A discharge of oil is classified as "major" (over 10,000 gallons).
      • A release of a hazardous substances is classified as "major" (a release that poses a substantial threat to public health or welfare of the United States or the environment or results in significant public concern).
      • The discharge or release is a "spill of national significance" (a spill that due to its severity, size, location, actual or potential impact on the public health or welfare or the environment, or the necessary response effort, is so complex that it requires extraordinary coordination of federal, state, local and RP resources to contain and clean up the discharge).
      • Because of the RP's inability or unwillingness to respond, the FOSC decides to pay for the response with funds from CERCLA or OPA ("federalize" the response).
      • Actions taken by the RP, or local, or state responders are inappropriate or ill-advised.
      • Lack of cooperation among the RP and local and state responders is impeding prompt and effective response.

      An FOSC who decides to direct all response actions must notify the RP's IC, the local government's IC and the state's OSC of these intentions. Such notification ensures that all of the lead organizations are aware of the change of status. An FOSC who exercises this authority becomes the IC for the entire incident, and must assure compliance with OSHA's 1910.120 regulations regarding response to releases.

Back to Top
Back to Table of Contents