USEPA On-Scene Coordinator
The terms RIC and UAC are defined by the USCG as 'Regional Incident Command' and 'Unified Area Command'. As I understand it, the USCG establishes a RIC for major marine oil spills and it serves as a Unified Area Command (for oil spills).
In situations where there is a need for senior executive
level response coordination, command and control of
an incident may include the use of a Regional or
National Incident Command (RIC/NIC). The purpose of
a RIC/NIC organization is to oversee the overall
management of the incident(s), focusing primarily on
strategic assistance and direction and resolving
competition for scarce response resources. This
organization does not supplant the IC(s), but supports
and provides strategic direction. Execution of tactical
operations and coordination remains the responsibility
of the IC(s)/UC(s).
Regional Incident Command - A RIC is an
organization activated by the District Commander to
ensure coordination for Command, Planning, and
Logistical matters. The need for a RIC may arise when
there are multiple on-scene ICs, multiple Coast Guard
ICs and/or when there is heavy demand for Coast
Guard resources from other agencies such as the
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The
RIC will determine which critical resources are sent to
which incident and determine priorities for their
When the decision is made to activate a RIC/NIC, the
following actions should occur:
•= The District Commander will activate a RIC or,
the Area Commander or the Commandant may
designate a NIC.
•= A deputy RIC/NIC will be designated with clear
succession of command authority.
•= If an incident(s) is multi-jurisdictional, the RIC/NIC
shall establish a Regional or National UC.
Regional or National UC representatives will
typically consist of executives possessing the
highest level of response authority as possible.
For efficiency of decision- making within the UC,
the RIC/NIC shall determine the proper make-up
and number of representatives.
Note: There may be incidents where it is
beneficial to activate a RIC or NIC, but
the Coast Guard is not the lead
response agency. In these cases, the
RIC/NIC will coordinate with the lead
agency’s response organization and, if
agreed upon, form a UC.
National standardization of terms
I think that we are seeing a large amount of standardization in the fire service. But I would probably have to agree with FFFRED that we would have a very long way to go to see any real big noticeable headway towards true national standards. He makes some good points about the differences between the simplest concepts, such as what makes up an engine crew.
We would be dreaming if we thought for a second that we will ever see real standardization of the fire service. There might be a way for that to happen but I think that it is a good bet that no one alive today would ever see it.
Yes, if we are going to worry about standardization we should probably start with something other than a word or two here. I would suggest that we have. ICS over the past 15 years is a very good example.
But the question is, does it appear that the feds have taken a stand on just a few terms when it comes to this ICS issue? After all, the very concept of a Incident Command system that we all could even begin to work with was unheard of just a few years ago. I remember when we started learning about command. Many of the old timers said that this would never work. "You can't command a fire out."
2 in 2 / 2 out is another concept that has brought major change and common practices to many departments. Standardization is slowly happening.
We now have national standards for FF-I. FF-II, Fire Officer I, Fire Officer II, etc. Things do change. Some of the larger cities will choose to ignore the national standards and set their own. I don't have a problem with that. I think that these standards are for the smaller departments who have 2 people on a truck. This might make them understand how understaffed or under trained they might be.
If Chicago wants to use FAST or make up a word like "TERD" to mean Tactical Emergency Rescue Detail, that does not bother me. They can ask for a "Terd in sector D" all the want. I am sure that the fire departments around there will know what that means. But there are plenty of areas in this country where the "big department" has 4-7 stations and other little communities depend on them for help. These people might need the feds to help them work together and establish common terminology.
I am not pushing for RIC or anything else. I don't have a dog in this fight at all. I am just looking towards the future and I think someone has drawn a line with this one term. I think is is coming. I could be wrong.