NIMS Compliance


What is NIMS?

The National Incident Management System was created following September 11, 2001 attacks to establish a common structure for managing incidents across the United States.  The 2017 version of NIMS contains four components consisting of Fundamentals and Concepts, Resource Management, Command and Coordination, and Communications and Information Management.  The most prevalent piece of NIMS that most people interact with is the Incident Command System (ICS), which is part of Command and Coordination.  You can learn more about NIMS at

What is NIMS Compliance?

NIMS Compliance is sometimes hard to clearly define and will vary for different organizations and personnel.  Here are some general guidelines:

  • Your organization’s governing board should formally adopt NIMS in writing as your official management system.
  • You policies and plans should align with the principles of NIMS.
  • Your personnel must be trained for NIMS (this is often the gray area).

What training is needed?

The baseline training requirements for all employees is pretty straight forward.  The tricky part is that middle management also needs ICS-300, but FEMA does not define what middle management is.  Additionally, command staff need ICS-400 and is not defined.  Gallatin County (and many jurisdictions) follow this guideline:

  • All Employees:  Need ICS 100, ICS 200, IS 700 and IS 800
  • Middle Management (they supervise people who don’t supervise employees): Need ICS 300
  • Command Staff (supervise people who are supervisors):  Need ICS 400

Why do I care?

For many years all federal preparedness grant funds have required recipients to be NIMS compliant.  This includes grants from FEMA (Homeland Security, AFG, SAFER), DOJ, CDC and others.  Chances are, if you are a government agency, you have received something in the past 15 years that was funded with federal preparedness grant funds and required to be NIMS compliant.  In theory the hammer is that if you receive a federal audit, and can not demonstrate being NIMS compliant, you would have to pay back all the federal money (dollar value at award time) you have received.  This could also include civil or criminal penalties.