Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD)-5, Management of Domestic Incidents, directed the development and administration of the National Incident Management System (NIMS). Originally issued on March 1, 2004, by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), NIMS provides a consistent nationwide template to enable Federal, State, tribal, and local governments, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector to work together to prevent, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate the effects of incidents, regardless of cause, size, location, or complexity.

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The NIMS is the nation's first-ever standardized approach to incident management and response. The NIMS unifies Federal, State, territorial, tribal and local lines of government into one coordinated effort. This integrated system makes America safer by establishing a uniform set of processes, protocols, and procedures that all emergency responders, at every level of government, will use to conduct response actions. This system ensures that those involved in emergency response operations understand what their roles are and have the tools they need to be effective.

This system encompasses much more than the Incident Command System (ICS), although ICS is a critical component of the NIMS. It also provides a common foundation for training and other preparedness efforts, communicating and sharing information with other responders and with the public, ordering resources to assist with a response effort, and for integrating new technologies and standards to support incident management. For the first time, all of the nation's emergency responders will use a common language, and a common set of procedures when working individually and together to keep America safe. The NIMS ensures that they will have the same preparation, the same goals and expectations, and most importantly, they will be speaking the same language.

To begin complying with NIMS requirements, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has created an advisory working group named the NIMS Advisory Group (NAG) comprised of members of the Massachusetts State Police, Department of Fire Services, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, the Municipal Police Training Committee, the Department of Public Health, the Department of Environmental Management, the Department of Public Works and SETB E-911 to determine a strategy as to how the Commonwealth will implement NIMS into the first responder communities (dictated by HSPD-8) of the state of Massachusetts. The mission of the group is to provide direction to the first responders of the Commonwealth on how to best become compliant with NIMS.