What is the Communications Unit?

The Communications Unit (COMU) is a key supportive organization within the Incident Command System (ICS) which establishes an adaptive, yet standardized approach for incident-based emergency response.  It currently falls under the Service Branch in the Logistics Section of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) ICS. The first concept of a COMU was established by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) over the past thirty years.

The COMU focuses on the communications portion of emergency response (e.g. developing communications plans to be used by emergency personnel during an incident or event).  The Communications Unit Leader (COML) is the head of a COMU and is often times the only member of a COMU depending on the type and size of an incident (see diagram).  Other positions within the COMU include Incident Communications Center Manager (INCM), Communications Technician (COMT), Incident Tactical Dispatcher (INTD), and Technical Specialist (THSP).

Position Task Books (PTBs)

Position Task Books or PTBs are used to evaluate a position-specific trainee (COML, COMT, INTD, etc.) against written guidelines provided in each PTB.  Most COMU positions have a corresponding PTB that is distributed following a position-specific training.  A trainee is typically evaluated at two or more events/incidents by qualified evaluators in order to complete their PTB.  A list of qualified evaluators for Wisconsin is available under the Communications Unit Recognitions Program.

Please click the links below for the latest versions of U.S. DHS PTBs:

COML          COMT          INCM           INTD          RADO