2020 NFPA 1561 Standard - Current Edition
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  • Description

    Help ensure incident management systems and command safety structures are capable of providing maximum protection for emergency responders and others on the scene.

    It has never been more critical to reduce injuries and fatalities of those responding to emergencies. NFPA 1561, Standard on Emergency Services Incident Management System and Command Safety, offers broad criteria for the structure and procedures of these operations for optimal protection of personnel.

    The standard provides the framework for emergency service organizations implementing the National Incident Management System (NIMS). Provisions cover everything from highway accidents and emergency medical service (EMS) calls to structure and aircraft fires and active shooter scenes. NFPA 1561 applies to operations performed by an emergency services organization (ESO) at the scene of an incident and are relevant to both single agency systems and multi-agency EMS and larger situations.

    The 2020 edition offers the latest on managing emergency operations within an effective incident management system and performance criteria for components of a system of command that contributes toward safety and health objectives.

    NFPA 1561 is an indispensable resource for training to keep emergency response personnel better protected on the scene of an incident. The document is updated to reflect the most current information and best practices in incident managements.

    Notable changes include:

    • New requirements for positional best colors added to the mandatory section of the standard to make incident management team members universally identifiable based on the color of vest they don for their assigned role 
    • Added language to prevent the “incident within an incident” practice of managing emergencies or “Maydays” at large-scale incidents to help ensure incident commanders stay in control of the entire incident and not become overly committed to the emergency by assigning a supervisor or rapid intervention group to the emergency
    • Completely revised Annex C to reflect the latest “Planning P” diagram and the best practices for creating an incident action plan

    Get the information necessary for improving the protection of the emergency service personnel the public relies on to respond to potentially dangerous incidents.

    This document is a must-have for fire departments, law enforcement agencies, and other groups and organizations responding to, or present on, the scene of emergencies. Get up to date and help ensure compliance by ordering your copy of NFPA 1561, Standard on Emergency Services Incident Management System and Command Safety.

  • Table of Contents (2020 Current Edition)

    NFPA® 1561 Standard on Emergency Services Incident Management System and Command Safety, 2020 Edition

    Chapter 1 Administration
    1.1 Scope.
    1.2 Purpose.
    1.3 Application.
    Chapter 2 Referenced Publications
    2.1 General.
    2.2 NFPA Publications.
    2.3 Other Publications.
    2.4 References for Extracts in Mandatory Sections.
    Chapter 3 Definitions
    3.1 General.
    3.2 NFPA Official Definitions.
    3.3 General Definitions.
    Chapter 4 System Implementation
    4.1 General.
    4.2 Planned Events.
    4.3 Risk Management.
    4.4 System Flexibility.
    4.5 Implementation.
    4.6 Resource Accountability.
    4.7 Incident Scene Rehabilitation.
    4.8 System Qualification Process.
    4.9 Training and Qualifications.
    Chapter 5 Functions and Structure of Command
    5.1 Command Structure.
    5.2 Coordination.
    5.3 Incident Commander.
    5.4 Intelligence.
    5.5 Unified Command.
    5.6 Area Command.
    5.7 Multi-Agency Coordination System.
    5.8 Supervisory Personnel.
    5.9 Command Staff.
    5.10 General Staff.
    Chapter 6 Communications and Information Management
    6.1 Communications Systems.
    6.2 Protocols and Terminology.
    6.3 Emergency Traffic.
    6.4 Telecommunicator Support.
    Chapter 7 Incident Management Team(s)
    7.1 Positions.
    7.2 Training.
    7.3 Staffing.
    Chapter 8 Command Safety
    8.1 Supervisory Levels.
    8.2 Span of Control.
    8.3 Overall Command.
    8.4 Command Post Establishment.
    8.5 Accountability Systems.
    8.6 Assignment of Staff Aides.
    8.7 Additional Resources.
    8.8 Rapid Intervention Crew/Company Assignment.
    8.9 Responsibilities of the Incident Commander.
    8.10 Community Risk and Emergency Operation Plans.
    8.11 Command Post Requirements.
    8.12 Command Post.
    8.13 Safety Officer and Assistant Safety Officer.
    Annex A Explanatory Material
    Annex B Emergency Operations Centers
    Annex C Use the Planning “P” When Developing an Initial Incident Action Plan
    Annex D Area Command
    Annex E Expanded Area Command Using Zones
    Annex F Division Designation: Tactical Assignments for a Multistory Incident
    Annex G Fire Service Information
    Annex H Functional Assignments for High-Rise Building Incidents
    Annex I Development of Subordinate Officers or Implementing a More Efficient Management System
    Annex J Incident Management for the Fire Service on Type 5 or Type 4 Incidents
    Annex K Structural Fire Fighting — Risk Assessment and Operational Expectations
    Annex L Informational References
  • Prior Editions

    2014 Edition

    Train emergency responder teams to work safely by implementing the National Incident Management System with NFPA 1561.

    NFPA 1561, Standard on Emergency Services Incident Management System and Command Safety establishes the framework for emergency service organizations using the National Incident Management System (NIMS).

    The new edition of NFPA 1561 can help fire departments, law enforcement agencies and other entities enhance the safety of emergency responders and others on the scene. Structure and aircraft fires, highway accidents, emergency medical service (EMS) calls, and active shooter scenes are among the incidents covered by this document.

    Last updated in 2008, the 2014 edition of NFPA 1561 includes important additions, such as:

    • The minimum certification level required by EMS personnel to provide emergency care at an incident
    • Clarification that if any Incident Command System (ICS) position is vacant at an incident, then the incident commander shall assume ICS responsibilities
    • Requirements to ensure that an Incident Safety Officer (ISO) responds to every incident -- and that an incident commander can appoint one to respond if necessary
    • Requirements that must be met by those serving in Safety Officer (SO) positions and in assistant SO positions

    This edition of NFPA 1561 also explains how to:

    • Implement and use the National Incident Management System within your emergency services organization.
    • Ensure the incident commander applies the requirements of this standard to every incident.
    • Assign the correct colored vests to the appropriate command positions and other tips on the logistics of managing an incident.

    Now more than ever, the emergency management industry is focusing on reducing fatalities and injuries among emergency responders. Make sure your organization is enacting the proper measures to keep them safe by getting your copy of NFPA 1561. (Print, 56 pp., 2014)


    Interested in other editions of NFPA 1561? Use the drop down menu above to select the edition year you need.

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