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National Incident Management System

New York, NY, October 5, 2001 -- Rescue workers continue their efforts at the World Trade Center. Photo by Andrea Booher/ FEMA News Photo

Homeland Security Outlines NIMS Requirements For FY 2005

In a Sept. 8, 2004, letter to the nation's governors, the Secretary of Homeland Security outlined the minimum requirements for states, territories, and local governments to comply with the new National Incident Management System (NIMS).

NIMS is the first-ever standardized approach to incident management and response. Developed by the Department of Homeland Security and released in March 2004, it establishes a uniform set of processes and procedures that emergency responders at all levels of government will use to conduct response operations.

The National Incident Management System (NIMS) unifies Federal, State, territorial, tribal, and local lines of government into one coordinated effort.  This integrated system makes America safer by establishing a uniform set of processes, protocols, and procedures that all emergency responders, at every level of government, will use to conduct response actions.  This system ensures that those involved in emergency response operations understand what their roles are and have the tools they need to be effective. 


This system encompasses much more than the Incident Command System (ICS), although ICS is a critical component of the NIMS.  It also provides a common foundation for training and other preparedness efforts, communicating and sharing information with other responders and with the public, ordering resources to assist with a response effort, and for integrating new technologies and standards to support incident management.  For the first time, all of the nation's emergency responders will use a common language, and a common set of procedures when working individually and together to keep America safe.  The NIMS ensures that they will have the same preparation, the same goals and expectations, and most importantly, they will be speaking the same language. 

To the maximum extent possible, States, territories, tribes, and local entities are encouraged to achieve full NIMS implementation and institutionalization across the entire response system during FY 2005.  The memorandum below highlights the important features of NIMS implementation that should receive special emphasis in FY 2005, but does not represent all of the actions necessary to fully implement the NIMS

FY 2006 and FY 2007 Requirements: 

 In order to receive FY 2006 preparedness funding, the minimum FY 2005 compliance requirements described above must be met.  Applicants will be required to certify as part of their FY 2006 grant applications that they have met the FY 2005 NIMS requirements.  Additional information about NIMS compliance and resources for achieving compliance will be forthcoming from the NIMS Integration Center (NIC).  In addition, FY 2005 Federal preparedness assistance program documents will address State and local NIMS compliance.  The NIC web page,, will be updated regularly with information about the NIMS and guidance for implementation.


To qualify for federal assistance in Federal Government Fiscal year 2006 which begins October 1, 2005, all levels of government must at a minimum do the following:

  1.  Incorporating NIMS into existing training programs and exercises.
  2. Adopt the National Incident Management System (NIMS) as their local Emergency Management System.  Below is a sample resolution for a home rule township that can be modified for your jurisdiction.  
    Click Here 
  3. Train key personnel in the Introduction to the National Incident Management System, an Introduction (IS-700) Click Here to Jump to that information
  4. Establish a NIMS baseline by determining which NIMS requirements you already meet.
  5. Establishing a timeframe and developing a strategy for full NIMS implementation.

Link to FEMA National Incident Management System web site 

Direct link to letter from Tom Ridge regarding NIMS Implementation Letter to the Governors, Sept. 8, 2004 in Word or PDF

Sample Resolution to adopt NIMS for a home Rule Township that can be modified for a non-Home Rule Township or for a village.  Word Format  RTF format   Straight Text Document  National Incident Management System (NIMS), An Introduction

On February 28, 2003, President Bush issued Homeland Security Presidential Directive-5. HSPD-5 directed the Secretary of Homeland Security to develop and administer a National Incident Management System (NIMS). NIMS provides a consistent nationwide template to enable all government, private-sector, and nongovernmental organizations to work together during domestic incidents. You can also find information about NIMS at

This course introduces NIMS and takes approximately three hours to complete. It explains the purpose, principles, key components and benefits of NIMS. The course also contains "Planning Activity" screens giving you an opportunity to complete some planning tasks during this course. The planning activity screens are printable so that you can use them after you complete the course.

What will I be able to do when I finish this course?

Describe the key concepts and principles underlying NIMS.
Identify the benefits of using ICS as the national incident management model.
Describe when it is appropriate to institute an Area Command.
Describe when it is appropriate to institute a Multiagency Coordination System.
Describe the benefits of using a Joint Information System (JIS) for public information.
Identify the ways in which NIMS affects preparedness.
Describe how NIMS affects how resources are managed.
Describe the advantages of common communication and information management systems.
Explain how NIMS influences technology and technology systems.
Describe the purpose of the NIMS Integration Center

Lesson Descriptions

Lesson 1: What is the National Incident Management System (NIMS)?
Lesson 2: Command and Management under NIMS--Part 1
Lesson 3: Command and Management under NIMS--Part 2
Lesson 4: Public Information
Lesson 5: Preparedness
Lesson 6: Resource Management
Lesson 7: Communications, Information Management, and Supporting Technology
Lesson 8: Course Summary

You will enroll when you complete the online answer sheet for the final exam.

Please Note:
The security FEMA provides on the EMI Independent Study Courses requires Netscape version 4.76 or above, or Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5 or above. Both browsers are available as free downloads  by clicking the links above.

If you need help on the use of the NETC Virtual Campus, you can contact the Help Desk by phone at (301) 447-7211 or e-mail the NETC Virtual Campus Webmaster. The help desk is available MONDAY - FRIDAY, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM (Eastern Time). You may call and leave a voice mail message at all other times. Voice mail messages and e-mails will be responded to as soon as possible.

  • Interactive Web-based Course - New
    This interactive web-based course is located in the National Emergency Training Center Virtual Campus at another location. When you click the link above, you will be routed to that location. If you have not registered at the Virtual Campus before, you need to hit the "New Student" button when it appears and follow the instructions. Once you are registered, you can select "Course Catalog" at the top of the screen and then select "IS-700" from the list. Please visit important information to see how to use the Virtual Campus.

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Last updated 04/12/2005