Institute of Emergency Services & Homeland Security

IS-200 - ICS for Single Resources and Initial Action Incidents

Lesson 5: Briefings

Lesson Overview

Woman standing next to a presentation board that has the word objectives written on it.

The Briefings lesson introduces you to different types of briefings and meetings.

At the end of this lesson you should be able to:

Effective Meetings and Briefings

A briefing.

Effective briefings and meetings are:

Typically, these briefings are concise and do not include long discussions or complex decisionmaking. Rather, they allow incident managers and supervisors to communicate specific information and expectations for the upcoming work period and to answer questions.

Levels of Briefings

A Staff-Level Briefing, Field-Level Briefing, and Section-Level Briefing.

There are three types of briefings/meetings used in ICS: staff level, field level, and section level.

  • Staff-level briefings are delivered to resources assigned to nonoperational and support tasks at the Incident Command Post or Base.
  • Field-level briefings are delivered to individual resources or crews who are assigned to operational tasks and/or work at or near the incident site.
  • Section-level briefings are delivered to an entire Section and include the Operational Period Briefing.

Briefing Type


Staff-Level Briefings

This level typically involves resources assigned to nonoperational and support tasks that are commonly performed at the Incident Base or Command Post. These briefings will be delivered to individual staff members or full units within a section. These briefings occur at the beginning of the assignment to the incident and as necessary during the assignment.

The supervisor attempts to clarify tasks and scope of the work as well as define reporting schedule, subordinate responsibilities and delegated authority, and the supervisor's expectations. The supervisor will also introduce coworkers and define actual workspace, sources of work supplies, and work schedule.

Field-Level Briefings

This level typically involves resources assigned to operational tasks and/or work at or near the incident site. These briefings will be delivered to individual subordinates, full crews, or multiple crews such as Strike Teams or Task Forces and will occur at the beginning of an operational shift.

The location will usually be near the work site or just prior to mobilization to the field. The supervisor attempts to focus the subordinates on their specific tasks and helps define work area, reporting relationships, and expectations.

Section-Level Briefings

This level typically involves the briefing of an entire Section (Operations, Planning, Logistics, or Finance/Administration) and is done by the specific Section Chief. These briefings occur at the beginning of the assignment to the incident and after the arrival of Section supervisory staff. The Section Chief may schedule periodic briefings at specific times (once per day) or when necessary. A unique briefing in this category is the Operational Period Briefing (also called a Shift Operations Briefing). Here, the Operations Section Chief presents the plan for all operational elements for the specific operational period. This specific briefing is done at the beginning of each operation shift and prior to the operational resources being deployed to the area of work. Often, a field-level briefing will take place subsequent to the completion of the Operational Period Briefing.

During any section-level briefing, the supervisor attempts to share incident-wide direction from the Incident Commander (IC), how the direction impacts the Section staff, and specific ways the Section will support the IC's direction. The supervisor will establish Section staffing requirements, Section work tasks, Section-wide scheduling rules, and overall timelines for meetings and completion of work products.

Briefing Topics Checklist


Below is a list of topics that you may want to include in a briefing.

Operational Period Briefing

An Operational Period Briefing.

The Operational Period Briefing:

  • May be referred to as the Shift Briefing.
  • Is conducted at the beginning of each operational period.
  • Presents the Incident Action Plan for the upcoming period to supervisory personnel within the Operations Section.
  • Should be concise.

In addition to the Operations Section Chief, the other members of the Command and General Staffs as well as specific support elements (i.e., Communications Unit, Medical Unit) can provide important information needed for safe and effective performance during the shift.

Operational Period Briefing: Agenda

The Incident Commander, Planning Section Chief, Current Operations Section Chief, and On-Coming Operations Section Chief.

A Safety Officer, Technical Specialist, and Special Operations Chief.

The Incident Commander, Planning Section Chief, and a Unit Leader.

The Operational Period Briefing is facilitated by the Planning Section Chief and follows a set agenda. A typical briefing includes the following:

  • The Planning Section Chief reviews the agenda and facilitates the briefing.
  • The Incident Commander presents incident objectives or confirms existing objectives.
    Note: Objectives may be presented by the Planning Section Chief.
  • The Current Operations Section Chief provides current assessment and accomplishments.
  • The on-coming Operations Section Chief covers the work assignments and staffing of divisions and groups for the upcoming operational period.
  • Technical Specialists present updates on conditions affecting the response (weather, fire behavior, environmental factors).
  • The Safety Officer reviews specific risks to operational resources and the identified safety/mitigation measures.
  • The Special Operations Chief briefs on areas such as Air Operations (if activated).
  • Specific Section Chief/Unit Leaders present information related to ensuring safe and efficient operations.
  • The Incident Commander reiterates his or her operational concerns and directs resources to deploy.
  • The Planning Section Chief announces the next planning meeting and Operational Period Briefing, then adjourns the meeting.

Quick Quiz

Before you can proceed to the next section, you must answer the following questions. Re-read the topics as indicated until you get 100%.