The Minnesota Incident Command System (MNICS) is an interagency group of state and federal partners that cooperate to manage wildfire and all risk incidents while developing standard procedures, practices and guidelines to support incidents and resource mobilization. MNICS was established to enhance the use of emergency response resources for land management agencies in Minnesota, for dissemination of intelligence information and to provide a single point of contact for the cooperating agencies within Minnesota. The organization is governed by a Task Force of agency leads; the Task Force reports to the MNICS Board of Directors.
“To provide coordination, education and implementation of the Incident Command System in Minnesota and support fire and all-risk incidents in the nation.”
- Provide timely, safe and cost-effective mobilization and demobilization of resources under the closest forces concept.
- Collect and disseminate intelligence data within specified local and national time frames.
- Assess the capabilities within Minnesota to respond to critical emergency situations.
Partnerships are often forged from necessity. Adopted in 1984, the MNICS partnership was formed to enable interagency support and leverage resources on large wildfire incidents. By using the Incident Command System (ICS), common terminology and a unified strategy, MNICS Type-2 incident management teams were formed. Today, these multi-agency teams respond to wildfires, floods, search and rescue operations, hurricanes and other all hazard emergencies.
By order of the governor in 1991, ICS became the statewide emergency operations standard. The Department of Public Safety-Division of Emergency Management (DEM) was directed to use ICS to train Minnesota response agencies. In 1992, a core group of DEM staff were stationed at the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center (MIFC) in Grand Rapids. In 2003, the DEM became the Department of Public Safety-Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Management (HSEM).
The Minnesota Interagency Fire Center (MIFC) is the physical building which houses the Northeastern Interagency Fire Cache and staff members from MNICS organizations. MIFC is a cooperative effort. Employee salaries, building maintenance, supplies and resources are cost-shared by MNICS partners.
Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)
There are eleven Indian reservations in Minnesota. The Midwest Region BIA represents tribal government interest on the MNICS Task Force and Board of Directors. When tribes participate in national emergency response mobilizations, their availability is coordinated through the BIA, which provides one dispatcher position at MIFC.
Department of Natural Resources – Division of Forestry (DNR)
The DNR – Division of Forestry manages 4.2 million acres that includes 59 state forests, school trust acres and other forested lands. The state fire cache and fire department surplus property programs are located at MIFC, in addition to air desk operations staff. The DNR operates air tanker bases in Hibbing, Brainerd, Princeton and Warroad. The Bemidji tanker base is operated cooperatively with the BIA.
Department of Public Safety – Homeland Security & Emergency Management (HSEM)
The MNICS partnership with HSEM has furthered all hazard emergency management in Minnesota. Staff from HSEM are located at MIFC and the agency ties amateur radio operators, county emergency managers to support all hazard response. HSEM has a Training & Exercise Plan (TEP) to conduct annual regional and state workshops which promoted Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) core capabilities.
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.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS)
Minnesota is the home to nine National Wildlife Refuges and five Wetland Management Districts within the Midwest FWS Region. The refuge system extensively uses prescribed fire to maintain good wildlife habitat or “set back” natural succession. In 2017, FWS celebrated 80 years of wildlife restoration through passage of the Wildlife Restoration Act in 1937.
U.S. 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 Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. USFS owns the MIFC building, has initial attack fire dispatchers, helps manage the Northeast Interagency Support Cache, and operates three Dehavilland Beavers float planes out of the Ely Minnesota Sea Plane Base.