What is MNICS?
Partnerships often come from the necessity to meet goals; the Minnesota Incident Command System (MNICS) is just such a partnership. MNICS was adopted in 1984 as a system to enable agencies to support each other on large wildfire incidents. By using the Incident Command System (ICS), common terminology and strategy planning were used by all agencies. Part of this new partnership led to unified training and incident management teams which were composed of members from the ranks of any of the partners. Today, these multi-agency teams have responded to a need for coordination on floods, search and rescue, large gatherings and wildfires. Reduced budgets and personnel allowed goals to be met through a unified approach. These same goals would be difficult to accomplish as individual agencies.
In 1991 the Governor of Minnesota decided the ICS system would be the statewide emergency operations standard. The Department of Public Safety, Division of Emergency Management (DEM) was the agency directed to train response agencies statewide in ICS. In 1992 they joined the staff at MIFC. In 2003, the DEM was re-named The Department of Public Safety Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. (HSEM)
The Minnesota Interagency Fire Center (MIFC) is the physical building which houses the Northeastern Interagency Fire Cache and staff members from the MNICS organizations. MIFC is truly a cooperative effort; employee’s salaries, building maintenance, supplies and resources are cost shared by all MNICS partners.
Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)
There are eleven Indian reservations in Minnesota. The BIA represents tribal government’s interests on the MNICS task force and the Board of Directors. If tribes wish to participate in national mobilizations, they need to coordinate their availability with the BIA. The BIA also provides one dispatcher position at MIFC.
MN Dept. of Natural Resources – Division of Forestry (DNR)
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is responsible for wildfire protection on the largest land base in Minnesota (45 million acres). The state fire cache and fire department excess property programs are located at MIFC, in addition to several fire staff. Dispatch operations for aircraft are coordinated from the air desk at MIFC. The DNR operates two air tanker bases in northern Minnesota and one in central Minnesota. The tanker base at Bemidji is operated cooperatively with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. During fire season, close to a dozen helicopters are stationed around the state for fire suppression. Most helicopters are under contract to the DNR, but are available for use by all MNICS agencies.
MN Dept. of Public Safety –
Homeland Security/Emergency Management (HSEM)
The MNICS partnership with Homeland Security and Emergency Management has furthered efforts in all-risk management in Minnesota. Staff from HSEM are located at MIFC. HSEM’s ties with amateur radio operation systems and county emergency management has helped further the cause in support of all-hazard response.
National Park Service (NPS)
Several entities are represented through the National Park Service partnership in MNICS. Voyageurs National Park, St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, Grand Portage National Monument and Isle Royale National Park are all part of MNICS. Although Isle Royale is in Michigan, it has joined MNICS because of its close proximity to Minnesota’s land base.
US Fish and Wildlife Service
Minnesota is the home to nine National Wildlife Refuges and five Wetland Management Districts. The refuge system uses prescribed fire extensively to maintain good wildlife habitat or “set back” natural succession.
US Forest Service (USFS)
Minnesota is home to two National Forests, the Chippewa and the Superior. Located in the northern third of the state, these forests protect some three million acres of pine and aspen forests including the busiest Wilderness area in the National Forest System-the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. The US Forest Service owns the building MIFC is housed in, helps manage the National Fire Cache with the State of Minnesota, and owns and operates three Dehavilland Beavers based out of the Ely MN Sea Plane Base. Fire initial attack dispatch for the Superior National Forest is also located at MIFC