Incident objectives are an important component of the Incident Command System (ICS). They help guide the overall response during an incident or event. Incident objectives should have certain characteristics to make them effective. However, one of the potential options for incident objectives does NOT represent an ideal characteristic.
Overview of Incident Objectives
Incident objectives refer to the goals set during an incident or planned event response. They help establish priorities and guide the activities of all personnel involved. Incident objectives should be:
These criteria help ensure that objectives are concrete and actionable. Objectives provide direction for the command and general staff to develop appropriate strategies and tactics.
Well-defined incident objectives enable personnel to understand the priorities and work collaboratively to achieve the desired end-state. They also facilitate unity of effort.
Recommended Characteristics of Incident Objectives
According to FEMA and emergency management best practices, incident objectives should have the following characteristics:
- Measurable and attainable – Objectives should have quantifiable metrics and be reasonably achievable. This enables personnel to track progress.
- In accordance with the Incident Commander’s authorities – The Incident Commander sets objectives. Objectives must align with their authority and jurisdiction.
- Includes a standard and timeframe – Objectives should specify a clear benchmark or standard to meet. A timeline creates urgency and accountability.
- Support incident management priorities – Objectives must align with and support priorities like life safety, incident stabilization, and property/environmental conservation.
What is NOT a Recommended Characteristic
While the options above represent ideal characteristics of incident objectives, one potential choice does NOT reflect recommended practice:
- Stated in broad terms to allow for flexibility
Incident objectives should be specific, not broad. While some flexibility is prudent, overly broad objectives can create confusion. Broad, vague objectives make it difficult to:
- Identify appropriate strategies and tactics
- Allocate resources effectively
- Establish measurable metrics
- Ensure unity of purpose
To drive coordinated and effective incident response, objectives should provide concrete and targeted direction. As such, “stated in broad terms to allow for flexibility” is NOT considered an ideal characteristic.
Well-defined incident objectives are critical for guiding response activities and establishing priorities. While flexibility is important, objectives should be reasonably specific and focused. Stating objectives in broad, vague terms does not represent a recommended approach per emergency management standards. Clear, precise incident objectives help ensure an efficient and unified response during events.