National Wildfire Coordinating Group

Emergency Support Function #4 Primary Leader (FEMA), ESFL

Position Category: 
Incident Positions
Position Code: 
Functional Area: 
Coordination & Support
AD Class: 


The position functions as the leader for Emergency Support Function #4 (ESF4) under the National Response Plan (NRP) organization during a declared emergency or disaster, and provides technical advice and support to FEMA while representing the Forest Service.  The Leader communicates with federal and state agencies regarding policies, procedures, and capabilities related to all-risk emergency management, and serves as an information and intelligence source for the Forest Service during activation of the NRP.

The Leader is responsible for the effective and efficient management of all aspects of the ESF4 organization and operation.  She/he manages and directs the ESF4 organization in a manner that will assure the implementation of the Forest Service’s commitment to the NRP.  This commitment provides for the planning, support, resource delivery, program implementation, and emergency services needed to effectively respond to a national emergency or disaster.

Nature And Scope

The position is responsible for representing the Forest Service’s interests and concerns during activation of the NRP for emergencies or disasters.  Such incidents may range in size and complexity from small “routine” incidents to multi-state “mega” disasters that overwhelm the capabilities of response agencies at all governmental levels.  They may involve natural or human-caused emergencies/disasters such as floods, hurricanes, fires, earthquakes, terrorist incidents, and major accidents.  The ESF4 Leader recommends policies, procedures, or actions to address issues and concerns of FEMA and the Forest Service, and maintains a cooperative working relationship with a wide variety of federal and state agencies.

The position is usually located within the Operations Section of the incident organization at one of the following locations:  The National Response Coordination Center, one of the 10 Regional Response Coordination Centers, or at a Joint Field Office for the declared emergency or disaster.  In addition, the Leader position is frequently deployed as a member of the Emergency Response Team, Advanced Element, prior to, or immediately following a disaster declaration.  The Leader conducts technical analysis and provides advice to the Federal Coordinating Officer and her/his Command and General Staff.


  • Provides technical information and guidance to FEMA and cooperating agencies related to the availability and capabilities of resources from federal and state wildland fire management agencies.
  • Participates in informational and planning meetings providing current resource status, limitations, and capabilities of agency resources.
  • Facilitates the ordering of resources and services requested by FEMA through the mission assignment and tasking process.
  • Provides monitoring, oversight, coordination, and accountability of all resources needed to achieve assigned missions and tasks.
  • Assures the implementation of a cost accounting and tracking process for assigned missions.
  • Frequently serves as member of the Emergency response Team, Advanced Element, deployed prior to or immediately following a disaster declaration.  Provides analysis, advice, and recommendations to the Team Leader.
  • Manages and supervises a workforce of up to 10 technical specialists, trainees, and others in a highly complex disaster/emergency response environment.
  • Oversees the well-being and safety of personnel assigned to the ESF4 organization.
  • Conducts documentation, record preservation, and reporting in accordance with standard operating procedures.
  • Recommends procedural or tactical changes as part of the incident action planning process.
  • As request, provides Incident Command System (ICS) orientation and training for FEMA and other agency personnel.
  • Routinely coordinates with, and provides essential information up, down, and laterally within the FEMA and Forest Service organization.
  • Maintains a high level of situational awareness at all times and prepares briefing papers and situation reports as requested.


  • The work requires extensive knowledge and application of the policies, principles, and procedures of the NRP, ICS, and the National Incident Management System.
  • Requires the knowledge of resource availability, capabilities, and limitations as related to a wide variety of all-risk incidents.
  • Requires analytical skills needed for evaluating operational activities, improving organizational effectiveness, and recommending policy or procedural changes.
  • Writing skills are needed for the preparation of evaluations, reports, plans, and special projects as requested.
  • Verbal skills are needed to effectively communicate a wide variety of complex technical and informational material to a large number of agencies and individuals, often with limited understanding of the subjects being addressed.
  • Strong interpersonal skills are needed to cooperate, and occasionally negotiate agreements with a wide variety of agencies and organizations under stressful emergency response conditions.
  • Ability to develop and maintain productive, harmonious relations with a variety of agencies, groups, and individuals.
  • Strong planning organizational skills are needed to manage the ESF4 organization and support the planning needs of the incident.
  • Ability to supervise a group of up to 10 people with a variety of technical skills and experience levels.
  • Ability to work and supervise others under highly stressful conditions, and at times physically demanding situation.
  • A working knowledge of FEMA’s mission assignment process is needed.
  • Requires a high level of personal characteristics dealing with flexibility, adaptability, initiative, patience, objectivity, and diplomacy.


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