Management Objectives ICS 202

For emergency Incident Action Plans (IAP), I have also always been bothered why Management Objectives appear before Control Objectives on the ICS Incident Objectives Form 202. Why?


Reckon the overall management plan determine control objectives. Control being only part of the overall plan.


Naw. I have seen the evolution of the ICS Form 202 with the involvement of bureaucrats.


Chief Hawkins got me thinking (that’s a miracle in itself) and I went through a bunch of old incident IAP’s back to 2013. The vast majority have the Management objectives listed first on the 202. I was not sure why and reached out for some insight. My old IC had similar thoughts to @bootstrap. Not sure if one way is right or the other is wrong, and I’m sure a case can be debated for flip flopping the order. Ultimately, both sets of objectives need to be accomplished, and it is up to everyone on the incident from the IC to the boot firefighter to work towards. I like the topic though…


Yep. Management objectives determine control objectives


C. Burch he is the best.


Management Objectives do not dictate control objectives… The Control Objectives are the box… North of South of West of and East of…
Management objectives guide the decisions about how the support actions are taking place and give leaders intent with regard to the agency administrators direction.
Control objectives are where you are going to stop the spread… it is the leaders intent to stop the progress.
There is an important conversation that needs to take place about control objectives in the current fire environment, but do not confuse the two or their relationship.


Management objectives are guiding principles…


norcal74 hit the nail on the head! Agree 100% Sounds like some serious conversation/education needs to happen if there is any confusion.


So if management guidelines say no mechanized like dozers, chainsaws and aircraft, wouldn’t the box get bigger? On a given fire, line construction takes longer, no aerial support, fire will be bigger, so the box could easily change. Instead of this ridge, go next one over, etc.

The there’s let burn vs full suppression and everything in between.

East of the pacific, west of the Atlantic……


Yeah, that guy that makes the box 10 times bigger than should be. “Hey, I got it right again!”


Hmmm. Great question… Well, in my humble opinion, as an OSC and a recovering PSC, plus about 20 plus years of teaching PSC and OSC courses and stints doing the CA (R5) S-420 class… I remember when they were not broken out. As a matter of fact, there are some folks who still do not break them out and say objectives are objectives, why are they separated? On the FEMA, USCG, and NWCG ICS 202, there is only block 3 for objectives, and no instructions for breaking them out.

So, the question is why are they in the order they are, like @FireHawkC3100 is bothered by is… Well?..

I don’t know of any doctrine (that I have either seen or told) that states one way or another. We never taught that in the PSC courses nor when we developed the first version of the AH version. It might be that the management objectives “seem” to be the easier set to document and more stable than the control box. “Provide for firefighter and …” (weak but still used), and the standard ones one about finance, public information, and the like. Once they are set, on wildland fires, they tend to not change much. So maybe that’s why. Like when I first arrive as a PSC, you are trying to knock out documenting the objectives so the rest of the team can focus, and you have to get something written. So, while you are waiting for the OSC folks to describe the box, you can hammer the management ones out. As a matter of fact, I had them on a template and could just copy and paste them–and I am making progress. It was simply speed and simplicity – gotta get something documented and in front of the IC as soon as possible. They are first since they were easier and more stable and can be written now.

I review teams objectives from incidents across the country almost daily, and I don’t see in the current versions of objectives (on wildland fires) the management objectives really have any or much of an effect on the control objectives. They set the stage for the operational objectives, but don’t have much of an affect on them. So they are the lower hanging fruit and can be documented first.

@bootstrap, you said “management guidelines,” I would say those would be a different animal than “management objectives.” Those management guidelines would be written into an objective, but objectives won’t get (or should not get) specific like no dozers, because dozers are really a tactic. Management guidelines like you describe will definitely affect the strategy, and that will dictate the tactics, but the public info, Finance, Safety, and other standard management objectives are really not affected by that.

I’ll vote for a lot better versions of some, like the safety objective discussion on the lessons learned website, but until then, they are what they are.

Never-the-less, it’s a good question, and not one that I think there is a good answer. So, reverse them if you feel it better reflects the incident. I know the ICS police are not going to show up and take the PSC away (though at times they may wish they would).


IMT_Geek, Thank you for your review and your historical perspective on my question. The more I conjure up my own thoughts, the more I strongly lean to prioritizing important information on the ICS Form 202 but first a little background.

I also have considerable IMT and training experience (CAL FIRE ICT1 three teams about 12 years & OSC1; Federal OSC1 CIIMT1 4 years; and was the lead author for the original S-430 class and several course revisions & probably 20 S-430 classes plus about 5 ICT1 classes).

My thoughts drive me towards best serving the public and the firefighters that are led by an IMT. Right up front, I am not a bureaucrat and detest bureaucrats pestering by those neophytes without fireground quals who don’t have a clue but must force their unqualified involvement in incident command.

With these thought in mind and reflecting on what many have written particularly the thoughts of IMT-Geek, I do believe block entries on ICS Form 202, Incident Objectives, should be prioritized to operational need.
Please remember that the fundamental driving direction of the Original ICS Operational System Description stated that all functions support operations. I believe we have lost that very important thought. Along with this posting is the original ICS 1981-12-12-ICS-120-1.pdf.

So, the prioritized blocks on the ICS Form 202 should be:

  1. Strategy
  2. Incident objectives
  3. Major safety concerns
  4. Management objectives

I didn’t exclude Management Objectives but put them in their proper place. Most MOs are really recitals of agency policy or processes and have little real impact on the incident.

Thank you.1981-12-12-ICS-120-1.pdf (2.0 MB)


This has been lost by many, but not all. I was listening to a public meeting during a fire last week and I was very pleasantly surprised by the IC telling the public about what an IMT does and during that he stated that “everyone is here to support operations.” It was great to hear that being stated!

Uh oh! Dang! There it is again. “Strategy.” One critical driving element that was present in the forerunner to ICS (not LFO, the “M” word) that someone, somehow, someway, forgot to provide a place to document on any current ICS form. Strategy… Where oh where did the strategy go? Are you paying attention to it? Is it driving the bus or in the back seat while public reaction is in the drivers seat. The USCG, being rather M in mindset, realized it and kinda documents it in a cool form, the ICS 234, Work Analysis Matrix. We tried to get the AH version approved in the 2014 correction package (correcting mistakes we found in our 2010 ICS form conversation) that is still sitting on someones desk on “C” street. I love that thought! That is a longer term project to fix. In the current ICS IAP forms we go from Objectives (ICS 202) to the tactics (ICS 204’s) with no documented reference to the strategy that should be guiding tactics. Not saying it should be in every IAP, but ask a HS Sup if they even know what the strategy is and you might be surprised. @FireHawkC3100’s stone tablets reminded me we pickled that.

Who is Responsible?
The one item I forgot to mention, and this might cause some folks to fall out of their chairs, is that often Management Objectives, technically a subset of the overall Incident Objectives, are those objectives that are NOT usually completed or addressed by the Operations Section Chief. I know, w-a-i-t!!, if it is an objective then operations should be doing it. Let’s not get buried in minutia. If the objective is to feed the thousand refugees, definitely the OSC is on the hook for that (but a smart one adopts his LSC and FDUL as their tech specs, orders replacements, and buys them lots of cold ones). But that isn’t going to happen for the other instances like “keep the public, affected residents, stakeholders, and elected and appointed officials informed on the incident and…” The PIO is on the hook for that. Remember, Operations can do an amazing and super excellent award winning job, but if the public and elected officials are not kept up to date on what’s happening, especially if it involves evacuations, damage assessment, and repopulation), you have a complete PR disaster.

So can we agree that they “have little real impact on CONTROLLING (or insert correct adj) the incident.” or something to that affect. Operations can nail the box, but if Finance, Safety, and/or Public Information fail in one of their “management” objectives the entire team will pay for it, one way or another. They may not change, but if forgotten we are all toast.


I think there is an important conversation that needs to take place with control objectives. The management objectives are your mission statement… it is “how” for the management of the incident.
The management of the incident is not the control of the incident… the control or the strategy that will guide the line supervisors to determine the tactics is the control objectives.
The issues we are facing currently are what are control objectives for a pandemic or a flood or debris flow.
Second to that, how do control objectives drive the political machine? We know that we draw a big box and then try every avenue possible to control the fire before it hits that box. But when you draw that big box it sets off “spot fires” with stakeholders and we have to go through a lengthy and challenging dialogue about what our control objectives are.
Back when I started in the OPS world( 1999) if a fire escaped your control objective it was a BIG DEAL. We now expect the fire to blow past our control objectives.
How do we change that box or rephrase it to give us the room to maneuver and allow the education process to explain to the stakeholders out in front of the incident that we do not intent to bring the fire through their town.


I started in 85. 30 years in Plans section. Endless single resource on Fed and State fires. Was on CF Teams 7 and 2. A few years ago went back to ground pounding and doing plans only for type 3 fires in my unit. In the infancy of InciNet, I remember so many sleepless nights trying to get IAP’s correct - twice a day.

Switched shoulder patches and working on crews now. Never had more fun and more frustration with current fire control problems. Hard work, but better sleep than I got with plans.

I’ve forgotten some plans stuff and just plain haven’t kept up, so probably confused Managent terminology trying to reason things out. Ya’lls depth is much more than mine, so I appreciate what you are saying here. I am both interested and getting a kick out of reading your answers.

For those other than fire type objectives where you’re not necessarily going to “go direct,” looking at the FOG manual and org chart layouts seems to give hints. For floods an USAR group is identified so make S&R objectives. There’s lots of branches and sub units, run with it.

  • Evacuate in front of
  • Identify critical infrastructure in path of
  • Keep contained within, dike and divert where possible.
  • Provide (hourly, or sooner? Later? pick a time frame)
    updates on progression to govt officials, media
  • Search and Rescue
  • Decon
  • Recovery
  • Rehab community

For big box fires maybe primary, secondary and tertiary boxes? Identify where you want to hold it, but give them plans B and C, not just in your head but on paper in the IAP, too?

I know they pushed this stuff on us in ICS 420. But that’s been a while ago.


@norcal74 and @FireHawkC3100, you are asking some exceptionally valid and cerebral questions.This is what I love about this group. There are so many smarter than me folks who challenge current thinking and cause people to rethink and question and look for better ways. They also remind me or make me put things on To Do Lists for quieter times, along with some of the avatars y’all use so I can reach out and glean knowledge off while trying to set up future generations for success. Okay, if we are all around and haven’t burned up or washed away or been virused off the planet by then.


All good thoughts and comments. I too spent a small millennium in Plans, Ops, IC on a team. I agree with why the management objectives ended up being first in many cases. Low hanging fruit gets typed first.
I dont believe it makes much difference where it appears on a 202, but I ALWAYS tried to prioritize control objectives in order. This way the leaders intent is clear if all hell breaks loose, communications are lost, little green men from outer space landed, etc. Yes it sometimes requires changing every day, but that is ok, it stays relevant.


@firedog1, I think for those who have done their time in the plans shop, the correct word for ex-plans chiefs “I am a recovering plans chief.” Those who know understand. I will never be the same.

The only caution I learned is to NOT number the Management Objectives and be careful about the control objectives and make sure they make sense like you said. I was baked and fried at a public meeting and news conference because the un-prioritized inadvertent numbering order placed firefighter safety over public safety and keeping it away from something like a river (don’t remember) was listed before their homes. People brought it up and actually got pissed-off about it and it wasn’t fun. So it is in the current PSC curriculum to not number so you don’t get caught off-guard. Prioritize them, discuss them at meetings, keep everyone on the same page, but don’t let the bureaucrats/public that @FireHawkC3100 detests (as do I) broil you for simply numbering them. So they are prioritized and bulleted. Another reason why I am still in recovery.

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