Home Opinion Back to the Basics: Resource Unit Leader

Back to the Basics: Resource Unit Leader


Once the decision is made by the incident commander (IC) to develop a written incident action plan (IAP), one of the first tasks for the planning section chief (PSC) will be to account for what has already been ordered and what is currently at the event.

The earlier this can be completed the easier the task will be, but often the case is that the IC and others wait too long and the tedious process is difficult and time-consuming. This will be the job of the resource unit leader (RESL).

Moving to T-Cards

Despite the many software advances, the Type 4 or Type 3 IMT Planning Section will have to start with T-Cards, as they are a guaranteed way to calculate the resources and track them. The issue will involve getting the numerous methods of accountability and resource tracking that occur at the local level onto the T-Card system. 

In many parts of the country, the fire service utilizes the Passport accountability system to track crews and personnel, which often match to a vehicle. With this system, you will know the number of personnel on the apparatus and the type of apparatus just by looking at the passport.

Police and Public Works Accountability

Finding accountability systems for police and public works/government personnel will be more challenging. I'm unaware of a uniform system of accountability for police personnel at an incident. Conveniently, outside of the SWAT team or heavily urbanized area, police often travel and operate one per patrol car. 

The same can be said of public works dump trucks and dozers. Where it can become tricky is if the area actually abides by the FEMA resource typing system and sends the proper crew with the type of resource. Knowing the compliance and protocol of the area will be important information for the initial RESL.

A Good Investigator

A skill set needed of the initial RESL will be good investigative skills. Information will be needed from the IC, accountability officer (if assigned), dispatch, and any staging or operating areas. Once the initial T-Cards are established, the RESL will need to work with the division and group leaders to ensure accuracy

Randall Hanifen Dr. Hanifen serves as a shift commander at a medium-sized suburban fire department in the northern part of the Cincinnati area. Randall is the CEO/principal consultant of an emergency services consulting firm, providing analysis and solutions related to organizational structuring of fire and EMS organizations. He is the chairperson and operations manager for a county technical rescue team. from a state and national perspective, he serves as a taskforce leader for one of FEMA's urban search and rescue teams, which responds to presidential declared disasters. From an academic standpoint, Randall has a bachelor’s degree in fire administration, a master’s degree in executive fire service leadership, and a doctoral degree in business administration with a specialization in homeland security. He is the associate author of “Disaster Planning and Control” (Penwell, 2009), which provides first responders with guidance through all types of disasters.