Communications (LCES)

Fire Communication
Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
May 2021


Effective communication is a critical component of safe and successful operations.

Discuss the factors that can affect radio communication at the incident.

  • Knowledge of the radio issued to the individuals.
  • Net control, frequencies.
  • Line-of-sight restrictions.
  • Antenna polarization effect (direction of the antenna).
  • Minimizing noise interference.
  • Wide band vs. narrow band.
  • Potentially unfamiliar local jargon (e.g., Coulee, candlestick, fence post, etc.).

How can you mitigate potential problems?

  • Implement effective communication procedures — be brief, use clear text and to-the-point messages.
  • Give a good comprehensive briefing. (Refer to the Briefing Checklist inside the back cover of the Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG), PMS 461).
  • Confirm that relayed information is received and understood.
  • Keep a continuous information flow (e.g., updates on weather, fire behavior, work progress; changes in strategy/tactics; arrival of additional resources; and solicitation of feedback).
  • Establish emergency check-in procedures.
  • Provide a minimum of four radios per 20-person firefighter crew.

The Five Communication Responsibilities for all firefighters:

  • Brief others as needed.
  • Debrief your actions.
  • Communicate hazards to others.
  • Acknowledge messages.
  • Ask if you don't know.


Additional Resources

Incident Management Situation Report (IMSR)
Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG), PMS 461
NWCG Standards for Helicopter Operations, PMS 510
RT-130, Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher (WFSTAR)
Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations (Red Book)
Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center

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