23/092008IntroductionThe environment that surrounds and supports human life can sometimes be hazardous. There are several things that human life interacts with in the day-to-day life which are useful and at the same time exposes man into risk. The nature of the risks faced by humanity are diverse and unpredictable in some instances. Some calamities are natural such as volcanic eruption while others are man made such as terrorism attacks. Due to the devastating effects of tragedies, several strategies have been developed to minimize the risks they pose to man.
The Incident Command System (ICS) is an example of the strategies that have been developed in evaluation of catastrophic incidences. This system consists of hierarchal command structures which increase its effectiveness in managing incidents. (Kelvin, 2004)This paper focuses on the ICS with reference to the Harrow Court Incident that led to loss of lives of two fire fighters. Different perspectives will also be discussed in relation to incident management in the Harrow Court such as high rise building and principles of Dynamic risk assessment. History of ICSThe Incident Command System (ICS) was developed during the 1970’s after a massive wildfire fighting attempt in California and a series of catastrophic fires in the Californian urban areas.
The fires led to loss of property, lives and inflicted injuries to survivors. These incidents were enough prove that the existing disaster management strategies were unable to deal with calamities. The ICS was therefore developed to illuminate the command structure in times of hazardous occurrences. Other countries including Australia and the United Kingdom adopted this system although it exhibits different names but adopts the same principles as ICS. Gold Silver Bronze command structureA Gold-Silver-Bronze command structure is used by the United Kingdom’s emergency services in establishing a hierarchal structure for the command and control of key events and disasters.
The terms Strategic-Tactical-Operation, has been used by some practitioners to denote Gold-Silver-Bronze in the same order. Gold commander creates strategies and controls organization’s resources at the incident but he is actually not at the incident site but in a control room somewhere away from the scene. In case of different organizations, the Gold/Strategic commanders coordinate through video conferencing or through the telephone.
Silver commander on the other hand receives instructions from the Gold commander who breaks the information into sets of actions to be accomplished by the Bronze commander. The Bronze commander is at the incident site and work hand in hand staff members at the scene. During emergencies, the Bronze commander is usually under police control except for fire and rescue incidents. (Mark, , 2005)Span controlSpan of control is a fundamental element of the Incident Command System which limits the number of responsibilities as well as resources used by an individual in the incident.
The ICS obliges that; the span of control of a single person should not be less than three or greater than seven. Five is the ideal number of span control. Span control ensures that the communications of the officers are effective in the management of issues. Usually the communication issues are the key components in span control. In a complex situation, communication is usually short i. e. 2-3 lines while at stable situations, 6-7 lines is appropriate. However the commander is required to limit their span of control at 4-5 lines of direct involvement.