Throughout the history of fire fighting organizations in the United States, there was very little uniformity from one department to another. There were several hose threads available and consequently one department could not hook up to a neighboring department’s hydrants or hose. Equipment was identified differently from one department to the next as well. So a pumper in one department might be called an engine or truck in another department. All of this inconsistency led to the inability of neighboring organizations to assist one another. No where was this diversity more critical than the method each fire officer utilized for organizing and managing an emergency scene.
The Incident Command System (ICS) was developed in the 1970s by an interagency task force working in a cooperative local, state, and federal effort called FIRESCOPE (Firefighting Resources of California Organized for Potential Emergencies) to combat wildland fires. In the early 1980s, the Phoenix fire department formalized FIRESCOPE and developed a standardized system and terminology for their department. This system evolved into the present day nationally adopted National Incident Management System (NIMS). This standardization of organizing and managing an emergency scene allowed departments to work together. However, there was not any standardized equipment to assist the fire ground commander in implementing ICS.
The Tactron Personnel Accountability System and the Incident Command System were developed by active fire ground officers in the late 1980s to fill this need. At about the same time the need to identify and track personnel on the fire scene became apparent. Tactron incorporated the Personnel Accounting Safety System (PASS) into their line of products. The Tactron System allows complete accountability and management of an emergency scene; from the first arriving personnel responding to a single alarm incident which may escalate into a multiple alarm, multi jurisdictional incident requiring Unified Command organization.
Because of its simplicity and generic approach, departments can customize the Tactron System to fit their own organization while proving a standardized system allowing all agencies to fit into the operation.