Volume 17 Issue 3, 2002

The implementation of the incident control system in NSW: Span of Control and Management by Objectives

Jennifer Bean

Peer-reviewed Article

By Jennifer Bean, University of New England.

Archived Article


Jennifer Bean conducted research using interviews and questionnaires on the implementation of ‘management by objectives’ and ‘span of control’ in the context of the Incident Control System (ICS) in NSW. The research found that objectives and strategies are being developed for every fire and communicated effectively to the Incident Management Team (IMT) but not to the field. In addition, the objectives being developed are not useful or meaningful and the process of reassessing objectives and strategies is not well understood by the IMT. The Incident Action Plan (IAP) is often not perceived as being relevant or useful to the incident, and preplans are not used extensively at incidents. Logistics are being duplicated by agencies rather than having one function for an incident, and duplication of tasks is occurring between the planning and operations sections. Span of Control is well understood and adhered to but not proactively reassessed. Many of these issues can be resolved with interagency training/refresher exercises and standardised procedures (such as briefings, development of the IAP and planning meetings) to encourage agencies to implement ICS in the same manner.