Incident ActionIncidentActionPlanningGuidePlanning GuideRevision 1 / July 2015Revision 1July 2015PARTMENTOMELRIHOTYFU. S.DEAND SECUFEMA

Table of ContentsChapter 1: Introduction . 1Purpose . 1Applicability and Scope . 1Supersession . 1Authorities and Foundational Documents. 1Chapter 2: What is An Incident Action Plan?. 3Incident Action Planning. 5Incident Action Plan Considerations. 6Resolving Inconsistencies between FEMA and State, Tribal, or Territorial Incident ActionPlan Guidance . 7Multiple Incident Action Plans . 7Incident Action Planning with Tribal Governments. 7Planning Process Phases. 8IAP Forms during the Process. 9Initial IAP. 11Deliberate Plans . 11Using a FEMA Deliberate Plan to Develop an IAP . 12Linking National/Regional Support Plans to Incident Action Planning . 12Chapter 3: Phase 1—Understand The Situation . 13Gaining Initial Situational Awareness . 13Collection. 13Analysis. 13Dissemination . 14Ongoing Assessment/Situational Awareness. 14Establishing Initial Incident Priorities . 14Developing the Action Planning Team. 16Initiating Incident Action Planning. 16Conducting Incident Action Planning Meetings and Briefings . 16Chapter 4: Phase 2—Establish Incident Objectives. 21i

Responsibilities . 21Priorities . 21Incident Objectives. 22Unified Coordination Group Develops and Updates Objectives . 24The Command & General Staff Meeting . 24Chapter 5: Phase 3 - Develop the Plan. 26Strategies . 26Determining Strategies. 27Determining Tactics. 27Assigning Resources and Describing Work Assignments. 28Identify the Reporting Location. 30Determine Logistical Support Needs to Complete the Assignment . 30Using the Operational Planning Worksheet . 30The Operations Tactics Meeting . 32Chapter 6: Phase 4 - Prepare and Disseminate the Plan . 34Planning Section Responsibilities . 35Planning Section Chief . 35Resource Unit. 36Situation Unit . 38Planning Support Unit. 39Command/General Staff . 39Logistics Section. 41Air Operations Branch (Operations Section). 41Additional Items to the IAP . 41The Planning Meeting. 41Printing and Distributing the IAP . 42Chapter 7: Phase 5 - Execute, Evaluate, and Revise the Plan. 43Operations Briefing . 43Assess Progress and Effectiveness. 44Ending Incident Action Planning. 45Annex 1: Acronyms . 46ii

Annex 2: Glossary. 48Appendix A: How to Develop Incident Objectives . 51Appendix B: Incident Command System Map Symbols . 56Appendix C: Job Aids for Staff Preparing FEMA ICS Forms for the IAP . 57Appendix D: Final Quality Assurance Checklist. 65Appendix E: Maintaining Situational Awareness Throughout the Life Cycle of the Incident. 66Incorporating Deliberate Plans into Initial Situation Assessment. 66Post Initial Situation Awareness . 68Information Collection Plan . 68Situational Awareness Products . 68Situation Reports. 69Spot Reports. 69Situation Update Briefing. 69Responsibilities . 70Summary . 70Table of FiguresFigure 1: IAPs Developed Across All Echelons of an Incident. 4Figure 2: The Planning “P” – The Incident Action Planning Process . 8Figure 3: The Operations “O” – The Operational Period Cycle of the Incident Action PlanningProcess . 9Figure 4: Where ICS Forms are executed during the Incident Action Planning Process . 11Figure 5: Phase 1 of the Incident Action Planning Process . 16Figure 6: Phase 2 of the Incident Action Planning Process . 21Figure 7: Phase 3 of the Incident Action Planning Process . 26Figure 8: Phase 4 of the Incident Action Planning Process . 34Figure 9: Phase 5 in the Incident Action Planning Process . 43Figure 10: Incident Command Map and Symbols . 56Figure 11: Understanding the Situation . 68Table of TablesTable 1: ICS Forms and Description . 10Table 2: Linkage between Incident Action Planning Process and Deliberate Plans . 12Table 3: Core Capabilities by Mission Area (from National Preparedness Goal) . 15Table 4: Priorities—Objectives—Strategies—Tactics, Tasks, Work Assignments . 23Table 5: Sample Agenda for the C&GS meeting. 25Table 6: Sample Agenda for the Operations Tactics Meeting . 33iii

Table 7: IAP Components and Sequence of Assembly . 35Table 8: Assignment Lists Dos and Don'ts . 36Table 9: Sample Agenda Items for the Planning Meeting . 42Table 10: Sample Agenda for Operations Briefing . 43Table 11: Relating Incident Objectives to Incident Priorities. 51Table 12: Suggestions for Writing Incident Objectives. 52Table 13: Examples of Good Incident Objectives . 54Table 14: Deliberate Plan Elements and their Application in IAPs. 66iv

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTIONPurposeThis guide is intended to promote the effectiveness of incident operations by standardizing theincident action planning process. The guide describes how the Federal Emergency ManagementAgency (FEMA) applies the Incident Command System (ICS) incident action planning process.It also defines the specific roles and responsibilities of the various organizations, and establishesstandards for incident action planning on FEMA incidents. This guide also communicates topartners the details of how the Agency conducts the incident action planning process. In addition,it serves as a reference for incident management personnel and provides the basis for incidentaction planning staffing and exercising. Finally, this guide informs required training, positiontask books, and development of courses in alignment with the FEMA Qualification System.Applicability and ScopeThe guidance contained in this Incident Action Planning Guide applies to all applicableincidents, including those involving Stafford Act declarations, as well as Federal responsecoordination to non-Stafford Act incidents. This guidance applies to Unified Coordination Staff(UCS) during incident management. Finally, this guide is designed to promote cooperation andinteroperability among all levels of government, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), andthe private sector by communicating FEMA’s commitment to incident action planning toFEMA’s partners and sharing the details of how FEMA implements the process.SupersessionThis document supersedes the Incident Action Planning Guide (January 2012).Authorities and Foundational DocumentsA number of foundational documents provide statutory, regulatory, and executive guidance forFEMA incident action planning. Some key foundational documents are as follows: Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Public Law 93-288, asamended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5121-5207), November 1988Title 44 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Emergency Management and Assistance,December 1991Homeland Security Act (Public Law 107-296, as amended, 6 U.S.C. §§ 101 et seq.),November 2002Homeland Security Presidential Directive 5, “Management of Domestic Incidents,”February 20031

Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006 (Public Law 109-295, 6U.S.C. § 701), October 4, 2006National Response Framework, May 2013National Mitigation Framework, May 2013National Disaster Recovery Framework, September 2011National Incident Management System, December 2008The Federal Emergency Management Agency Publication 1, November 2010Incident Management and Support Keystone, January 2011Comprehensive Preparedness Guide 101 - Developing and Maintaining EmergencyOperations Plans, Version 2.0, November 2010Presidential Policy Directive 8, “National Preparedness,” March 2011National Preparedness Goal, September 2011FEMA Incident Management Handbook (FEMA B-761/Interim Change 1), expiresJanuary 1, 2013FEMA Operational Planning Keystone, February 2014FEMA Operational Planning Manual, February 20142

CHAPTER 2: WHAT IS AN INCIDENT ACTION PLAN?Effective incident management helps to ensure that the efforts of all players are coordinated andsynchronized to achieve the best results. The National Incident Management System (NIMS) is asystematic, proactive approach to guide departments and agencies at all levels of government,NGOs, and the private sector to work together seamlesslyand manage incidents.Incident1For FEMA, the Incident Action Plan (IAP) is a plan thatThe NIMS glossary defines incident asis central to managing the response to an incident using“an occurrence, natural or manmade, thatICS. The team that is managing an incident develops anrequires a response to protect life orIAP each operational period, the time scheduled forproperty.” For the purposes of this guide,the term incident is used to refer toexecuting a given set of actions as specified in the IAP,incidents in which FEMA is involved,using the standard ICS incident action planning process.generally in support of and in partnershipThe IAP itself communicates the incident objectives andwith State, Local, Tribal, and Territorialthe tactics that will be used to manage the incident during(SLTT) governments.the operational period that the plan covers.The incident action planning process provides a tool to synchronize operations at the incidentlevel and ensure that incident operations are conducted in support of incident objectives. Adisciplined system of planning phases and meetings fosters collaboration and partnerships, andfocuses incident operations.Over many years of managing all types and sizes of incidents, ICS practitioners have developedand refined the incident action planning process as a way to plan and execute operations on anyincident. Incident action planning is more than producing an IAP. It is a set of activities, repeatedeach operational period, that provides a consistent rhythm and structure to incident management.ICS practitioners have developed and refined a set of forms that assist incident personnel incompleting the incident action planning process. Incident leaders must ensure that the plan meetsthe needs of the incident and that form completion does not become the primary focus of theplanning process. FEMA has modified some standard ICS forms to address the implementationof assistance programs and the requirements for assigning Federal resources.The Operations Section has the primary responsibility for incident action planning and executionof the IAP. The Planning Section is responsible for producing the IAP and informing operationsdecision making through situational analysis, and adopting and executing applicable deliberateplans. This supports the tasks per the Incident Management Handbook (IMH). Furthermore, all1NIMS defines an IAP as an oral or written plan containing the general objectives reflecting the overall strategy formanaging an incident. FEMA requires a written plan.3

members of the Unified Coordinating Group (UCG) andthe Command and General Staff (C&GS) play specificand essential roles in the process. When incidents arecomplex, applying the incident action planning processaccurately, consistently, and completely is essential tothe success of incident operations. When each memberplays his or her part correctly, the process can bring orderto the often chaotic world of managing complexincidents, and it enables incident management personnelto address problems that seem insurmountable.Determining the Operational PeriodThe UCG determines the length of theoperational period, which is typically 24hours at the beginning of incident. TheUCG subsequently reviews and mayadjust the length of subsequentoperational periods as incident responseactivities progress.While the process described in this guide outlines howFEMA, as a part of the whole community, executesincident action planning, those involved must recognizethat other incident action planning processes may also be executed (as illustrated in figure 1). Forexample, local and municipal organizations may develop IAPs to guide the actions of firstresponders. For a catastrophic incident, there may be hundreds of concurrent incident actionplanning efforts taking place simultaneously. The joint IAP that State, Tribal, and Territorial(STT) and Federal incident management personnel develop must support all local IAPs andsynchronize activities at the STT and Federal level.County LawEnforcementIAPCounty IAPJoint Stateand LocalFire IAPJointEmergencyRouteClearanceJoint Searchand RescueIAPCounty IAPCity Fire IAPCounty IAPJoint Federal/State/Tribal/Territorial IAPFigure 1: IAPs Developed Across All Echelons of an Incident 22The State may create its own IAP prior to forming a joint IAP.4City PoliceIAPCity IAP

Incident Action PlanningThe IAP is the vehicle by which the senior leaders of an incident—the Governor of an affectedState, through the State Coordinating Officer (SCO); the Tribal/Territorial Chair/Council throughthe Tribal Coordinating Officer (TCO); and the President, through the Federal CoordinatingOfficer (FCO)—communicate their expectations and provide clear guidance to those managingan incident. The incident action planning process requires collaboration and participation amongall incident partners involved in the incident (Emergency Support Functions [ESFs],NGOs/private sector, STT, etc.) to achieve unity of effort through the disciplined incident actionplanning process.The incident action planning process is built on the following phases: the situationEstablish incident objectivesDevelop the planPrepare and disseminate the planExecute, evaluate, and revise the planThe IAP identifies incident objectives and provides essential information regarding incidentorganization, resource allocation, work assignments, safety, and weather. A well-conceived,complete IAP facilitates successful incident operations and provides a basis for evaluatingperformance in achieving incident objectives.ICS is used on all incidents in which FEMA coordinates Federal response efforts—both StaffordAct and non-Stafford Act. IAPs and the incident action planning process are used for all Level Iand II incidents and for some Level III incidents. 33Consult the FEMA Incident Management and Support Keystone and Incident Management Manual for more detailabout incident level classifications.5

Why is an IAP useful to incident personnel? Gives staff the clear objectives of STT and Federal leaders. Staff validate that theiractions are in support of those objectives and tailor their efforts to support them.Shows how individuals fit in the organization.Provides a road map of all operations during an operational period to help individualsunderstand how their efforts affect the success of the operation.Clearly identifies work assignments to be accomplished.Provides a tool to communicate what your organization is doing to ensure that it isproperly supported.Provides a tool for staff so they can best synchronize and de-conflict their efforts byshowing what the entire operation is doing.Provides a schedule of the key events during operational periods.Provides information about safety and phone numbers of key staff, and graphicallyrepresents the incident area.Informs partners at other echelons (FEMA regional and national levels) of the objectivesat the incident level for the next operational period and the specific resources and actionsthat will be applied to achieving those objectives.Incident Action Plan ConsiderationsBecause the IAP and the incident action planning process are inherently operational, the UCGmay determine that an IAP is not needed for certain incidents (i.e., Level III). This is most likelyto occur on incidents where no Federal response operations are required or anticipated and whereFEMA activities are focusing exclusively on delivery of Public Assistance (PA) and HazardMitigation (HM) programs. Typically, such incidents are the result of Stafford Act declarationsthat are made days or even weeks after the actual disaster or emergency and after State, Local,Tribal, and Territorial (SLTT) officials have completed response operations. In non-Stafford Actincidents, incidents that involve a multi-agency response the IAP process and forms may be usedin order to ensure an organized effort.In the absence of an IAP, the UCG should consider utilizing an Incident Strategic Plan and/orother established planning products (Situation Report, etc.) and refer to those appropriateguidance documents for additional information.6

Resolving Inconsistencies between FEMA and State, Tribal, or TerritorialIncident Action Plan GuidanceSome STT agencies have protocols forincident action planning that vary fromFEMA’s process. In such cases and in theinterests of achieving unity of effort, theUCG may make adjustments to the IAP andto the incident action planning process. Toresolve the conflict, the UCG may agree torefer to the Federal/State (or tribal/territorial)joint IAP by other names such as the IncidentCoordination Plan.Managing More Than One IncidentA UCS may begin managing one incident andbe required to take on another disaster in thesame geographic area—which will likelyincrease the size and complexity of the incidentmanagement organization. The UCG maydecide to include all incidents assigned to theUCS in a single IAP. The Planning Cycle andoperational periods for all of the disasters willbe the same, allowing for efficient and effectiveuse of the staff’s time. The UCG will bedeveloping priorities for each disaster as itdevelops the incident objectives in coordinationwith the Operations Section Chief.Multiple Incident Action PlansICS doctrine states there is one IAP perincident. FEMA aligns incidents to the JointField Office (JFO) or FCO identified in thedeclaration. FEMA may, therefore, havemultiple incidents aligned with a single JFO or FCO. A single IAP will suffice for multipleFEMA incidents resulting from the same disaster or emergency. For example, the hurricane thathas a pre-landfall emergency declaration and then a post-landfall major disaster declarationwould have a single IAP. A single IAP may also suffice for multiple unrelated incidents ifactivities and timing significantly overlap. When one IAP is used for multiple declarations, eachdeclaration number shall be listed on the cover page.Incident Action Planning with Tribal GovernmentsFederally recognized tribal governments may request a Presidential emergency or major disasterdeclaration independently of a State. The tribal government may also seek assistance under aState declaration request. In either case, if the incident involves a federally recognized Indiantribe, then incident action planning shall involve the appropriate tribal officials.A FEMA Tribal Affairs Specialist (TBSP) may be assigned to facilitate and coordinatecommunication with tribal officials. When collaborating with tribal partners, it is important tounderstand the culture of the particular tribe(s). The TBSP may provide important backgroundand cultural information to the UCG, and Planning/Operations Section personnel.It is important that the Planning Section Chief (PSC) works with the TBSP during the incidentaction planning process to: gain tribal cultural awareness and training, as applicableensure meetings and discussions adhere to tribal customsidentify appropriate tribal titles and positions7

Planning Process PhasesThe Planning “P” (figure 2) depicts the phases and activities in the incident action planningprocess. The leg of the “P” includes the initial steps to gain awareness of the situation andestablish the organization for incident management. Although maintaining situational awarenessis essential throughout the life cycle of the incident, the steps in Phase 1 are done only one time.Figure 2: The Planning “P” – The Incident Action Planning ProcessOnce Phase 1 steps have been accomplished, incident management shifts into a cycle of planningand operations, informed by ongoing situational awareness, which continues and is repeated eachoperational period. This cycle, which is depicted in the barrel of the “P,” becomes the Operations“O” (figure 3).8

Figure 3: The Operations “O” – The Operational Period Cycle of the Incident Action Planning ProcessIAP Forms during the ProcessThe IAP process requires the completion of nine primary forms with the option of additionalforms to be utilized as needed. These forms are tools used to document final decisions andprovide an organized means of documenting and conveying tasks and resource needs formeetings. Form input and completion of the forms is a joint UCS responsibility. However, thePlanning Section is responsible for the final product and publication of the IAP. A complete IAPalways includes at least the seven forms highlighted in table 1; additional forms may be useddependent on the incident. (See appendix C for more information on additional forms.)Some forms used in the IAP process are not contained in the published IAP. The FEMA ICSForm 201 (Incident Briefing Form) is not included in the IAP but may be used to conduct theincident briefing. While not included in the published IAP, the Operational Planning Worksheet(FEMA ICS Form 215) is an important form. FEMA ICS Form 215 is used to document keytasks and resource needs of the Operations Section. These forms are initially populated prior tothe Operations Tactics meeting, and refined following the meeting. FEMA ICS Form 215s arefinalized in the planning meeting to determine which tasks will occur during the next operationalperiod. Tasks approved by the Operations Section Chief (OSC) are transferred to theAssignment List (FEMA ICS Form 204).9

Table 1: ICS Forms and DescriptionFormFEMA ICS Form 200 (Cover Sheet)45DescriptionProvides the plan number, incident name, declarationnumbers, initial operating facility (IOF)/JFO address,approval blocksFEMA ICS Form 201 (IncidentBriefing) 4Description of current situationFEMA ICS Form 202 (IncidentObjectives)Describes the UCG’s incident objectives, also providesweather and safety considerations for use during the nextoperational periodFEMA ICS Form 204

Incident action planning is more than producing an IAP. It is a set of activities, repeated each operational period, that provides a consistent rhythm and structure to incident management. ICS practitioners have developed and refined a set of forms that assist incident personnel in