Which of the Following is Not a Recommended Characteristic for Incident Objectives







When it comes to managing incidents, having clear and well-defined objectives is crucial. Incident objectives provide a roadmap for responders, guiding them towards a common goal and ensuring a coordinated response. However, not all characteristics make for effective incident objectives. In this article, we will explore the recommended characteristics for incident objectives and identify which one is not recommended in the context of incident management.

The Importance of Incident Objectives

Incident objectives serve as the foundation of incident management. They help responders understand the purpose and scope of their actions, making it easier to prioritize tasks, allocate resources, and maintain control over the situation. Effective incident objectives are specific, achievable, and adaptable, ensuring that they remain relevant throughout the response effort.

Recommended Characteristics for Incident Objectives

Specificity: One of the most crucial characteristics of effective incident objectives is specificity. Objectives should clearly define what needs to be accomplished. Vague or overly general objectives can lead to confusion among responders and may result in misallocation of resources. For example, “Ensure public safety” is too broad, whereas “Evacuate residents from flood-prone areas within the next two hours” is specific and actionable.

Measurability: Incident objectives should be measurable to track progress and determine when they have been achieved. This characteristic allows incident commanders to assess whether the response is on track and make necessary adjustments. Measurable objectives often include timeframes, quantities, or percentages. For instance, “Contain 90% of the wildfire within 48 hours” is measurable and provides a clear target.

Achievability: While incident objectives should challenge responders to perform at their best, they must also be achievable. Setting unattainable goals can lead to frustration and demotivation among responders. Objectives should consider available resources, expertise, and logistical constraints. For example, if there are only two fire trucks available, setting an objective to extinguish a massive industrial fire within 30 minutes would likely be unachievable.

Relevance: Effective incident objectives must remain relevant to the evolving situation. As incidents progress, the objectives may need to be adjusted to reflect changing priorities and conditions. Sticking to outdated objectives can hinder response efforts. Flexibility is key in ensuring that objectives stay relevant throughout the incident.

Unity of Effort: Incident objectives should promote unity of effort among all responding agencies and organizations. They should align with the overall incident management strategy and contribute to the larger mission. Objectives that are too narrow or focus solely on one agency’s interests can hinder collaboration and create inefficiencies in the response.

Time-Bound: Setting a timeframe for achieving objectives is essential for effective incident management. This characteristic provides a sense of urgency and helps responders prioritize tasks. However, it’s crucial to set realistic timeframes based on the incident’s complexity and available resources.

Prioritization: Incident objectives should reflect the priorities established during the initial assessment of the incident. These priorities often revolve around life safety, incident stabilization, and property conservation. Effective objectives address these priorities in a logical sequence, ensuring that the most critical issues are tackled first.

Consistency: Consistency is essential in incident management. Objectives should be consistent with the incident’s overall goals and with the strategies and tactics employed to achieve those goals. Misalignment can lead to confusion and disjointed response efforts.

Clarity: Clarity is vital to ensure that all responders understand the objectives in the same way. Objectives should use plain language and avoid jargon or technical terms that may be unclear to some team members. Ambiguity can lead to misunderstandings and errors in the response.

Documentation: Recording and documenting incident objectives is essential for accountability and future analysis. This characteristic ensures that objectives are traceable and can be reviewed to assess the effectiveness of the response.

Which Characteristic Is Not Recommended?

Now that we have reviewed the recommended characteristics for incident objectives, it’s time to identify which one is not recommended in the context of incident management.

Among the characteristics listed above, “Ambiguity” is not recommended for incident objectives. Ambiguity arises when objectives are unclear, vague, or open to multiple interpretations. In the context of incident management, ambiguity can have severe consequences, including:

Confusion: Ambiguous objectives can lead to confusion among responders. When team members do not have a clear understanding of what needs to be accomplished, they may take inconsistent actions, making it challenging to coordinate efforts effectively.

Resource Misallocation: Ambiguity in objectives can result in the misallocation of resources. Responders may not know where to focus their efforts, leading to inefficiencies and delays in achieving critical tasks.

Safety Risks: Unclear objectives can pose safety risks. Responders may inadvertently place themselves in dangerous situations because they do not fully grasp the intended goal or the safest approach to achieve it.

Reduced Accountability: Ambiguity makes it difficult to hold individuals and teams accountable for their actions. When objectives are not well-defined, it becomes challenging to assess whether responders met the intended goals.

Ineffective Communication: Ambiguous objectives hinder effective communication within the incident management team and with external partners. Clear and concise objectives are essential for conveying priorities and coordinating actions.

In summary, ambiguity is not a recommended characteristic for incident objectives. Clarity and specificity are essential to ensure that objectives guide responders effectively and promote a coordinated and efficient response effort.


Crafting effective incident objectives is a critical aspect of incident management. Recommended characteristics for incident objectives include specificity, measurability, achievability, relevance, unity of effort, time-bound nature, prioritization, consistency, clarity, and documentation. These characteristics ensure that objectives are clear, actionable, and adaptable to changing circumstances.

On the other hand, ambiguity is not recommended when defining incident objectives. Ambiguous objectives can lead to confusion, resource misallocation, safety risks, reduced accountability, and ineffective communication, all of which can hinder the response effort.

In conclusion, incident commanders and responders should strive to create and communicate objectives that embody the recommended characteristics, fostering a well-coordinated and effective response to any incident.