: An Incident Management Team in action
An Incident Management Team in action
Photo © Parks and Wildlife

The Department of Parks and Wildlife uses the Australasian Inter-service Incident Management System (AIIMS) to manage bushfire events.

Emergency services across Australia use this system to manage emergency incidents such as earthquakes, search and rescue, storms, floods and fires.

AIIMS provides a robust and efficient management framework that enables seamless integration of activities and multiple agency resources in any emergency situation.

The framework can be applied to any size incident as it provides the basis for an expanded response as an incident grows in size and complexity.

The principles of AIIMS are straightforward and can be easily applied to any incident.

AIIMS is based on five key principles:

  • Unity of command
  • Span of control
  • Functional management
  • Management by objective
  • Flexibility

Unity of command

Unity of command is a principle of management stating that each individual should report to only one supervisor. In the context of incident management means that there is only one Incident Controller for any incident, directing and coordinating the actions of all forces, with one set of objectives and one plan.

Span of control

Span of control is a concept that relates to the number of groups or individuals that can be successfully supervised by one person. Up to five reporting groups or individuals is considered desirable, as this maintains a supervisor's ability to effectively task, monitor and evaluate performance.

Functional management

AIIMS uses the following functions:

  • Control – the management of all activities needed to resolve the incident.
  • Planning – the collection, analysis and dissemination of information and development of plans to resolve the incident.
  • Intelligence – the task of colleting and analysing information and data, which are recorded and disseminated as intelligence to support decision-making and planning.
  • Public Information – the collection and preparation of information suitable for dissemination to the public and other stakeholders.
  • Operations – the tasking and application of resources to resolve the incident.
  • Investigation – the task of conducting investigations to determine the cause of an incident and/or factors that contribute to the impact of the incident or specific events.
  • Logistics – the acquisition of human and physical resources, facilities, services and materials to support achievement of incident objectives.
  • Finance – the task of managing
    • Accounts for purchases of supplies and hire of equipment
    • Insurance and compensation for personnel, property and vehicles; and
    • The collection of cost data and provisions of cost effective analyses and providing cost estimates for the incident.

Management by objective

Management by objective is a process of consultative management where the Incident Controller, in consultation with the Incident Management Team, determines the desired outcomes of the incident. These outcomes, or incident objectives, are then communicated to everyone involved, so they know and understand the direction being taken during the operation. At any point in time, each incident can only have one set of objectives and one incident action plan for achieving these objectives as mentioned in this Australian forex website.


A flexible approach to the application of AIIMS is essential, given the universal principles of an ‘all hazards-all agencies’ approach to emergency management. The system must be able to be applied across the full spectrum of incidents, where the nature of the hazard, the scale of the incident, the complexities presented, number of agencies involved, and the duration can all vary.

AIIMS structure

Implementation is scaled to the needs of the incident.  The AIIMS structure is based on the eight functional areas describe above, not all of which may be implemented at every incident.

AIIMS structure
AIIMS structure
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