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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get access?
You get access by opening the IAP and making your own copy. The instructions are on the first tab in the IAP spreadsheet. Please don't ask for permission to edit the IAP sheet.

Is this really free?
Yes absolutely - no strings attached.

What does open-source mean?
This means that the source code that makes this application work is freely distributed with the application. Individuals may edit and enhance the application and new features or improvements can be incorporated into the distributed version.

Who developed this?
This has been a collabrative effort by a number of members of Cal Fire incident management teams, local incident management teams, as well as Federal Incident management teams. The project is managed by Jim Irving, PSC of the North Bay Incident Management Team.

What kind of computer does this run on?
Because it is browser-based, it will run on almost any computer, phone or tablet that connects to the Internet. That includes Windows, Mac, Linux, Chromebook, Android tablets, Android phones, Ipads, and Iphones.

When I use the NIMS IAP menu, I get a message from google saying that the app needs permission to access my data. What's up with that?
Last year Google implemented a a very strict policy for verifying the security of Google Sheets applications. While it's a good idea - it's a bit overkill for the NIMS IAP application. We have gone through the process to become a verifed App with Google. However, as soon as you make your own copy. the App now belongs to you, not us. I will provide a brief bio on me, as the lead developer. Hopefully, this may alleviate concerns about the trust and safety of the NIMS IAP.

Who can see the info that is put into my IAP and is any information shared?
The only people who can see your IAP and the sheets/tabs that have your data is you and anyone that you have shared it with. The only information that is shared outside of your sheet is your latitude/longitude and incident name (if they are entered). These are tranferred via encrypted SSL connection to our server in order to get your sunrise, sunset, timezone and weather information, which are posted back to your IAP. If you desire, this can be disabled. See our Privacy Policy for further information.

If I don't like the way a certain form is layed out, can I make changes to it?
Yes, once you make your own copy, you can change anything that you would like. The application may warn about overwriting certain fields, however you may overwrite any field, formula or script that you desire.

Is there any copyright on this?
Yes, it has a GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation. This essentially means that you are free to use this however you see fit as long as you don't try to resell it. Once you create your own copy, you have the entire package, including all source code.

Is this similar to ISuite?
Yes and No. ISuite is a management system that encompasses the entire incident, including Time, Ordering, Cost data systems and can develop IAPs. NIMS IAP only does IAPs - However, it is far better at it (3-4 times as fast) and just far more intuitive. ISuite requires either Internet Access AND NAP accounts for all users, or an ISuite server and Network set up on site. NIMS IAP does require Internet. However, it is available to anybody, you can share it on the fly with whomever you'd like, and multiple people can work simultaneously on the same form.

Is this an appropriate tool for managing a real incident?
Yes. This application has been used on some of the most significant incidents in the Country over the last several years; The "Wine Country" Fires (Tubbs, Nuns, Atlas Peak, Redwood Valley, Pocket, Sulfphur, Patrick) 200,000 Acres, 8,500 structures; Thomas Fire 271,000 acrees, 1,044 structures; Mendocino Complex - 410,000 acres, 280 structures; Rocky - 69,000 acres, 43 structures; Butte - 70,000 acres, 818 structures; Valley - 76,000 acres, 1,955 structures; Soberanes - 100,000 acres, Santa Barbara Mudslides, Oroville Dam Spillway collapse and dozens of smaller, but significant events. It is being used by all of the CalFire Type 1 Incident Management Teams and almost all Type 3 teams in California. It is now being used by several Federal IMTs, as well.

Is this designed only for fires, or can it be used for other types of incidents?
All of the forms are NIMS compatible and the intent is for it to be applicable to any type of incident. In Fact, it has been used on many different types of incidents, including dam failures, floods, winter storms, protests, hazmats, train derailments, training events, open houses, prescribed burns, dive rescue operations, and memorials.

Can I import my resource information form another source such as ROSS or InciNet?
Yes, it has import features to fairly easily import from InciNet and ROSS. It can also import any data laid out in a specific spreadsheet sequence.

Can the application be accessed remotely?
Yes. This is the nature of Google Sheets. This can be extremely helpful. You can share the IAP with someone who is not at the incident to get technical help or have someone at a remote site enter information for you. Sometimes, this can be a necessity. A couple of recent examples of this included a resource unit at an existing incident was able to access InciNet, import it into Fire IAP and begin building the IAP for a new incident prior to the arrival of the IMT for the new incident. The second example was a Comm Unit Leader for one team was already deployed with another team. He was able to build the comm plan remotely while still remaining at the first incident.

Do you take suggestions for improvements or additions to the application?
Yes, absolutely. My email address is down below. You can find my telephone number in the help file.

What are scripts?
Scripts are essentially a computer language for automating tasks. Google Sheets uses its own scripting language which a version of Javascript. The NIMS IAP uses almost 3,000 lines of code to implement the functions of the NIMS IAP menu and some of the buttons on the forms. All of this code is freely accessible to you once you make your own copy of the sheet. Menu: “Tools / Script Editor”

Can I copy all of your forms and source code, call it TIM'S IAP and say that I created it?
Sure, as long as you don't try to sell it.

jim @ nimsiap.org