National Wildfire Coordinating Group

MAFFS Airtanker Base Specialist, MABS

Position Category: 
Incident Positions
Position Code: 
Functional Area: 
AD Class: 


This position is located at an airport at a MAFFS or Airtanker Base.  This position is a key element for safe operation on a MAFFS aircraft base of operations.  This person is supervised by the MAFFS Airtanker Base Manager (MABM) or the MAFFS Liaison Officer (MLO).


  • Supervises Fixed-Wing Parking Tenders and directs Aircraft Loaders, Fuelers, Forklift Operators and other personnel on the ramp area.  Also supervises all aircraft, vehicle and personnel movement on the ramp area.
  • Develops and provides briefings for pilots and fuelers on parking areas and ramp traffic patterns, communications on the ramp, and emergency procedures.
  • Coordinates all movement on the ramp for all aircraft, vehicles, and personnel.  Maintains the overall readiness and safety of ramp facilities and operations.  Orders supplies and services required at the base.
  • Initiates and maintains radio communications with all aircraft on the ramp, and coordinates with management to ensure the proper sequence and spacing of aircraft so they arrive in a timely manner over the fires.
  • Ensures all subordinate positions are filled, as required, by qualified individuals.  Assures that all personnel on the ramp have the applicable training for the missions they are assigned (e.g., hot loading aircraft, loading retardant, forklift operations, cargo operations, personnel transport, etc.), and documents any training provided for base personnel.
  • Ensures the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) by all personnel on the ramp.  Establishes emergency ramp procedures, and trains personnel in these procedures.  Ensures that all safety hazards are reported and corrective actions are taken.  All hazards and incidents or accidents are reported to the supervisor; the incumbent completes SAFECOM incident reports as necessary.
  • Establishes fueling areas, loading pits, repair/maintenance areas, overnight parking areas, day(s) off parking areas, and general parking areas.  Develops and posts ramp maps and diagrams and ramp traffic pattern maps as needed.
  • Is responsible for the cleanliness of the ramp and documents and reports all fuel and retardant spills to ensure that they are properly cleaned according to established environmental and/or hazardous materials procedures.
  • Monitors and ensures the safety of all fueling operations by requiring fuelers to adhere to established regulations and procedures (NFPA 407).
  • Helps arrange transportation and lodging for transient aircrews, and ensures meals and drinks are provided to pilots and contract personnel during periods of high fire activity in order to sustain operations.  May work closely with retardant personnel, providing information on aircraft movements, and retardant needs.
  • Signs shift tickets and time reports as necessary.
  • Maintains good working relationships with contractors, airport managers, Fixed-Base Operators, and airport fire department personnel.

Position Knowledge and/or Requirements

  • Familiarity with C-130 MAFFS and their capabilities.
  • Knowledge of the use of, and application of, takeoff and start times, estimated time of arrival (ETA), estimated time of departure (ETD), flight and duty time documentation, authorized breaks, maintenance issues, and aircraft availability, unavailability, and rotation policies.
  • Familiarity with various references on which base operations are contingent such as:  Interagency Airtanker Base Operations Guide; Aviation Mishap Response Guide/Plan; National and Regional Interagency Mobilization Guides; Airtanker Base Directory; Aircraft Radio Communications/Frequency Guide; Interagency Aviation Technical Assistance Directory; National, Regional, and local Aviation Management Plans, Interagency Airspace Guide; Interagency SEAT Operations Guide; Hazardous Materials Regulations; Interagency Fire and Business Management Handbook; and the Hearing Conservation Program.
  • Working knowledge of emergency ramp procedures and ability to develop an emergency ramp plan, as well as a fueling and parking plan.
  • Familiarity with, understand of, and ability to function as a single resource.
  • Ability to make sound decisions while under stress.
  • Ability to obtain information regarding assignments, including any resource order, travel arrangements, and reporting location.
  • Ability to check-in through the proper channels and take the necessary equipment to perform the assignment.
  • Ability to brief the MABM or MLO on ramp procedures, and provide input for the completion of the Unit Log (ICS-214).

Supervisory Controls

The supervisor makes continual assignments by indicating generally what is to be done.

The incumbent usually functions on the ramp independently and handles problems, deviations, and makes decisions on their own.

The incumbent receives only occasional direct supervision of actions conducted on the ramp.


Various guides such as the Interagency Airtanker Base Operating Guide, Interagency Aerial Supervision Module Operations Guide, Interagency Air Tactical Group Supervisor’s Guide, Interagency Leadplane Operations Guide, and the Single Engine Airtanker Operations Guide address portions of the job, but do not specifically address the position.  Various agency policies and guidelines dictate how the contract and agency aircraft are to be managed on a ramp.

The incumbent uses considerable judgment in interpreting, assimilating, and applying existing regulations to perform in this position.


The work includes various related duties involving different processes and methods, including:  developing and implementing training plans (e.g., for hot loading and fueling, retardant loading procedures, forklift operations, cargo operation, and personnel transport procedures); documenting the completion of training, laying out the ramp area, including establishing fueling areas, loading pits, repair/maintenance areas, overnight parking areas, day(s) off parking areas, ramp traffic pattern and general parking areas; developing emergency ramp procedures, and training all ramp area personnel in the use of the plan.

Decisions regarding what needs to be done involve various choices that require the incumbent to recognize the existence of and differences among a few easily recognizable situations.

Scope and Effect

The work involves the execution of specific rules, regulations, and procedures and typically comprise a complete segment of an assignment or project of broader scope (i.e., ramp management is a distinct part of incident management).

The work product affects the reliability of further processes and services.

Purpose of Contacts

The purpose of contacts is to effectively manage a variety of aircraft, personnel, and equipment in accordance with agency policies and guidelines to accomplish the mission to which assigned.

Physical Demands

The position requires walking and standing for long hours; exertion of a light or moderate level.

Work Environment

The incumbent is subject to extreme heat or high humidity; or, cold temperatures, and insect infestations.


Page Last Modified / Reviewed: