Retardant Crewmember, RTCM

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


Retardant Crewmembers are assigned to Airtanker bases at a local Unit or District level, and may be ordered at various locations nationally. RTCMs report to the mixmaster during retardant operations and may also be supervised or report to the Airtanker Base Manager. Retardant Crewmembers are responsible for assisting the mixmaster in mixing and loading of fire retardants for introduction into Airtankers.

Major Duties

  • Reports to the Mixmaster during mixing operations, who provides daily or more frequent briefings.
  • Loads retardant into airtanker/s.
  • May report pounds of retardant loaded from mass flow meter or hose read-out to the Mixmaster after each load.
  • If the base is approved for retardant hot-loading, must be trained in hot-loading procedures.
  • Verifies that the pounds of retardant loaded into the airtanker does not exceed the placarded maximum load weight on side of aircraft, current agency policy or downloaded weight as designated by the pilot in command.
  • Knows the load limitation of the airtanker and ensures it is not exceeded.
  • May assist in mixing retardant under the supervision of the Mixmaster.
  • Obtain samples of retardant for quality control.
  • Maintains/repairs retardant system mixing and loading equipment.
  • Keeps ramp clean from all spilled retardant, completes FOD detection as needed daily.
  • Trained and knowledgeable in emergency crash-rescue and base safety procedures; reports all hazards and incidents/accidents immediately to supervisor.
  • Participates in daily briefings, and after action reviews (AARs) as well as training and simulations. As needed, will be responsible for assisting in training new or less experienced RTCMs.
  • Complies with OSHA plans and good housekeeping methodology, utilizes operating plans and guides.

Knowledge Required by the Position

  • Knowledge of the technical methods and procedures required for carrying out basic standardized duties which are common to airtanker base operations.
  • Knowledge of fire retardant specifications for purposes of adequate mixing or remixing which meet application standards and; are consistent with product specifications and aircraft limitations.
  • Knowledge of safety practices which prevent injury or loss of life in and around aircraft.
  • Working knowledge and demonstrated application of tools and techniques used to make sound decisions and to effectively work with others in stressful situations, which may include life-threatening encounters.

Supervisory Controls

The Supervisor assigns work and sets priorities, provides objectives, and deadlines.

The employee plans, organizes and carries out recurring work without detailed instructions.

Completed work is usually evaluated for technical soundness and conformity to policy and requirements.


Employee will utilize and adhere to the Interagency Airtanker Base Operations Guide, the local Airtanker Base Supplement or Operations Plan, Interagency Standards for Fire and Aviation Operations, Interagency Single Engine Airtanker Operations Guide, Aircraft Contracts, Lot acceptance and Quality Control, and Health and Safety Code.

The employee will refer needed deviations or questions to the supervisor or higher level while performing airtanker base operations activities.

Complexity/Scope and Effect

The purpose of the work is to support airtanker base operations. This will be primarily in retardant mixing, testing and delivering fire retardants into firefighting aircraft within contract and product specifications and limitations. Complexity can be increased when numerous aircraft, or varying types of aircraft are introduced.

Employee performs a variety of routine procedural tasks or one or more complex duties related to regular and recurring technical work. Operates a variety of pieces of equipment or equipment systems commonly associated with the work site.

Personal Contacts/Purpose of Contacts

Personal contacts are with co-workers, airtanker base managers, pilots and crews, contractor’s representatives, vendors, airport managers, dispatchers, fire and aviation personnel, and the general public on a regular basis.

The purpose of the contacts is to exchange information about air base procedures, schedules, or operating problems; clarify information on records explain the reason the work is being performed or other similar exchanges of factual information.

Physical Demands/Work Environment

This position involves frequent movement and interactions requiring muscular coordination, good vision, good hearing, reaction reflexes, and mental alertness. Physical effort is expended in performing this position.

Long irregular hours are required, much of it occurring during periods of fire operations. Frequent standing, walking and long periods outside in high temperatures and direct sunlight may be required while working around multiple arriving and departing aircraft. Activities in and around moving aircraft and other equipment require constant monitoring and alertness for hazardous conditions and safety of personnel. Lifting and carrying heavy equipment/materials and operating a variety of hand and power tools is required.

Position Needs

Please reference agency training qualification guides for specific training requirements.

  • Duties listed as RTCM in the Interagency Airtanker Base Operations Guide (IABOG).
  • Knowledge located within the airtanker base technician position description.
  • Required training located within the Federal Wildland Fire Qualifications Supplement.
  • Subject matter expert (SME) review.



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