The National Wildfire Coordinating Group
The National Wildfire Coordinating Group provides national leadership to enable interoperable wildland fire operations among federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial partners. Primary objectives include:
- Establish national interagency wildland fire operations standards. Recognize that the decision to adopt standards is made independently by the NWCG members and communicated through their respective directives systems.
- Establish wildland fire position standards, qualifications requirements, and performance support capabilities (e.g. training courses, job aids) that enable implementation of NWCG standards.
- Support the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy goals: to restore and maintain resilient landscapes; create fire adapted communities; and respond to wildfires safely and effectively.
- Establish information technology (IT) capability requirements for wildland fire.
- Ensure that all NWCG activities contribute to safe, effective, and coordinated national interagency wildland fire operations.
Bureau of Land Management (U.S. Department of the Interior)
Fish and Wildlife Service (U.S. Department of the Interior)
Forest Service (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
International Association of Fire Chiefs
Intertribal Timber Council
National Association of State Foresters
National Park Service (U.S. Department of the Interior)
United States Fire Administration (Federal Emergency Management Agency)
NWCG standards establish common practices and requirements that enable efficient and coordinated national interagency wildland fire operations. These standards may include guidelines, procedures, processes, best practices, specifications, techniques, and methods. NWCG standards are interagency by design; however, the decision to adopt and utilize them is made independently by the individual member agencies and communicated through their respective directives systems.
Incident Position standards are a component of NWCG standards. They enable consistent and uniform performance by personnel mobilized by position under NIMS-ICS principles. Incident position standards include incident position descriptions (duties and responsibilities) and position qualification requirements for training, experience, physical fitness, and position currency.
The National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) was established in 1976 through a Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior. The memorandum defined the function and purpose of NWCG as follows:
“To establish an operational group designed to coordinate programs of the participating agencies so as to avoid wasteful duplication and to provide a means of constructively working together. Its goal is to provide more effective execution of each agency’s fire management program. The Group provides a formalized system to agree upon standards of training, equipment, aircraft, suppression priorities, and other operational areas. Agreed upon policies, standards, and procedures are implemented directly through regular agency channels.”
Twelve “working teams” and a number of sub-teams, comprised of member agency leaders and experts in various fields, were established in functional areas such as fire equipment, fire weather, incident operations, training, and incident business. These teams led the initial effort to achieve a broad national standardization in key areas of wildland fire management.
Listed in the order of which they joined, current NWCG members are:
- U.S. Forest Service
- Bureau of Indian Affairs
- Bureau of Land Management
- National Park Service
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- National Association of State Foresters
- U.S. Fire Administration
- Intertribal Timber Council
- International Association of Fire Chiefs
- Office of Wildland Fire (Associate Member)
- National Weather Service (Associate Member)
Seventeen primary committees and a number of subordinate groups - again representing the key functional areas in wildland fire management - continue the work of their predecessors. And although individual members are different and agency membership has evolved, the primary mission remains largely unchanged. NWCG continues to provide leadership for a seamless response to wildland fire across the nation.