Actual UC makeup for a specific
incident will be determined on a case-by-case basis taking
into account the following:
- The specifics of the incident.
- Determinations outlined in existing response plans;
- Decisions reached during the initial meeting of
The makeup of the UC may change
as an incident progresses, in order to account for changes
in the situation. The UC is a team effort, but to be effective,
the number of personnel should be kept as small as possible..
Frequently, the first responders to arrive at the scene
of an incident are emergency response personnel from local
fire and police departments. The majority of local responders
are familiar with National Interagency Incident Management
System (NIIMS) ICS and are likely to establish one immediately.
As local, state, federal, and private party responders
arrive on-scene for multi-jurisdictional incidents, responders
would integrate into the ICS organization and establish
a UC to direct the expanded organization. Although the
role of local and state responders can vary depending
on state laws and practices, local responders will usually
be part of the ICS/UC.
Members in the UC have decision-making authority for the
response. To be considered for inclusion as a UC representative,
the representative’s organization must:
- Have jurisdictional authority or functional responsibility
under a law or ordinance for the incident.
- Have an area of responsibility that is affected
by the incident or response operations.
- Be specifically charged with commanding, coordinating,
or managing a major aspect of the response; and
- Have the resources to support participation in the
In addition, UC representatives
must also be able to:
- Agree on common incident objectives and priorities.
- Have the capability to sustain a 24-hour-a-day,
7-day-a-week commitment to the incident
- Have the authority to commit agency or company resources
to the incident.
- Have the authority to spend agency or company funds
- Agree on an incident response organization
- Agree on the appropriate Command and General Staff
position assignments to ensure clear direction for
on-scene tactical resources.
- Commit to speak with “one voice” through the Information
Officer or Joint Information Center (JIC), if established
- Agree on logistical support procedures; and
- Agree on cost-sharing procedures, as appropriate.
UC members bring their authorities
to the UC, as well as the resources to carry out their
responsibilities. The UC members may change as the response
transitions out of emergency response and into long-term
cleanup. Members in a UC have a responsibility to the
UC, and also to their agency or organization. These individuals
in the response management system do not relinquish agency
authority, responsibility, or accountability. The addition
of a UC to the ICS enables responders to carry out their
own responsibilities while working cooperatively within
one response management system. Under the National Contingency
Plan (NCP), the UC may consist of a pre-designated OSC,
the state On-Scene Coordinator (OSC), the Incident Commander
for the Responsible Party (RP), and the local emergency
response Incident Commander.
Generally, for spills on federal lands or resources, federal
land and resource managers have authorities and responsibilities
comparable to those of local and state responders and
federally recognized Indian tribes. For this reason, federal
land and resource managers should be invited to participate
in the UC for spills on federal lands and resources under
their control. Similarly, for incidents on tribal lands
of federally recognized Indian tribes, a representative
from the Indian tribe must be invited to participate in