Incident Command System (ICS) Toolkit

The Challenge

The Incident Command System (ICS) is a highly effective, standardised approach to the command, control, and coordination of incident response. It can be used to manage an emergency incident or a non-emergency event, and can be used equally well for both small and large situations.

The adoption of ICS in South Africa brought about a situation where agencies and organisations using ICS would all be using different forms, colours, devices etc when documenting an incident. This typically worked well on their own, single agency, incidents but when two or more agencies were involved compatibility issues arose.

The Directorate Disaster Management and Fire & Rescue Services sought to standardise the approach to ICS documentation and forms and appointed Patrick Ryan of Vulcan Wildfire Management to create the South African ICS Toolkit.

The Solution

This ICS Toolkit is designed to assist those concerned with responding to emergencies at a local level and implementing the Incident Command System. It explains what the Incident Command System is and how to achieve it in an effective, appropriate way. It is intended principally for: organisations and managers responsible for emergency planning and response (e.g. fire and rescue services, emergency medical services, HAZMAT response agencies, Disaster Management officials etc); and national and international officials involved in emergency management.

The ICS Toolkit and accompanying manual explains the processes of the Incident Command System for use in a wide range of emergency management applications. The entire approach to the actual design of the documents is derived from, enhances and replicates the modular system of ICS. Everything is centred around:

  • Ease of navigation
  • Clarity of communication
  • Usability
  • Accessibility and comprehension within a pressured environment

"A good commander is benevolent and unconcerned with fame"

Sun Tzu

"Unity is strength. . . when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved"

Mattie Stepanek

Number of Climate-related Disasters, 1980-2011 – The International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR)




Extreme Temperatures


Colour has been standardised across the entire document to facilitate every possible scenario, particularly where language issues might arise. Standard Pantone colours were chosen after research was conducted into the existing use of colour within ICS role identification and communication with Provincial Disaster Management. These Pantone colours can be applied and adapted universally across all media, including print and screen based environments. The choice of these colours also allows for immediate recognition and clarity of the roles within ICS.

DIN typeface

We have chosen the DIN typeface for the entire Toolkit which is the official font for many international signage systems, including Germany and South Africa. In fact DIN is the standard typeface for all road signage systems in South Africa, and we therefore have what a sub-conscious affinity with the typeface. It’s very presence lends itself to the dissemination of information.


Universal Usage

The documents will work across all media and devices and are resolution independent, meaning they can be displayed or printed at any size without any loss of image quality. The T-card system has been carefully streamlined and echoes the design style, layout and approach adapted for the entire ICS Toolkit. The T-card system colours chosen follow the standards already in use within ICS and are created using tints of the existing Pantone colours we have chosen to use for the Toolkit. This simplifies the printing process and again ensures the ability for global standardisation.


We also believe that the creation of a central identifier in the form of a logo for anything associated with the Toolkit is also important. All ICS material can therefore be identified by the simple and highly visible logo. The logo was created by the construction of a simple modular shape and conveys the impression of a cog. This grew out of the modular structure of the ICS with the cog representing the ability for well structured elements to work together efficiently.

Communication leads to connections, community and mutual value