A combination of factors influences incident complexity. These factors include the extent of political sensitivity, threat to life or property, organizational complexity, jurisdictional boundaries, and risk values. The level of complexity is graded on a five-point scale, with the least complex incident being rated as one. For the purposes of this article, the term “complexity” will be used. This article addresses the various types of incidents and explains how to measure their complexity.
The complexity of an incident is determined by the severity of the incident and the resources available to address the incident. It is often characterized by a large number of factors. These factors include the location of the incident, the threats to life and property, the amount of resistance involved, and the response agencies’ ability to coordinate response efforts. This article examines four major types of incidents: small incidents, large incidents, and incidents that span multiple operational periods.
The initial stages of an incident are typically the most difficult. The Supply and Communications Units are particularly active at this time. The problem with either too few resources or too many can lead to loss of life or property, or too few resources can lead to unqualified personnel being deployed without proper supervision. This activity is designed to help students identify indicators that indicate the level of complexity of an incident. The worksheet provided in the Student Manual outlines the different types of incident, including types, severity levels, and response times.
Unlike Type 1 and 2, the complexity of a Type 3 incident does not depend on the amount of resources available to respond. A Type 3 fire requires a large number of resources, including specialized teams that handle extended attack fires, escaped fires, and critical areas until the incident is contained. The overall level of resistance is the primary determining factor of the complexity. These organizations will also be responsible for the initial briefing and closeout.
The level of complexity of an incident is determined by the following factors: the area of operation, the risk of life and property, the response agencies and their respective roles. The amount of resources is the critical factor, and too few resources can lead to death. The cost of responding agencies is irrelevant to the degree of complexity. In fact, the costs of the responding agency do not affect the intensity of an incident. The total cost of an operation will vary depending on the level of severity.
Another factor that does not impact the complexity of an incident is the cost. When the costs of responding agencies are considered, the response to a Type 3 incident will have a lower cost. However, the cost of the resources is not directly related to the complexity of an ICS. Instead, it is the size of the ICS that impacts the economy. Consequently, the amount of resources is important for managing a disaster.
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