NWCG Standards Management Cycle
The National Wildfire Coordinating Group provides national leadership to enable interoperable wildland fire operations among federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial partners. The primary way this is accomplished is by establishing national interagency wildland fire operations standards, incident position standards, and associated support materials.
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.
NWCG standards are developed by the NWCG committees – formally organized bodies of national leaders, subject matter experts, and contributors from NWCG member agencies who represent the many functional areas of the wildland fire community.
NWCG standards are the key component of the standards management cycle. They inform the development of incident position standards and associated performance support capabilities. And ultimately, they guide operations.
NWCG publications and web portals are the primary vehicles by which NWCG standards are transmitted.
Wildland fire personnel throughout the nation mobilize by NWCG position under NIMS-ICS principles. This enables consistent and uniform position performance in support of nationally interoperable wildland fire operations. NWCG committees manage incident positions by establishing and maintaining incident position standards, which include incident position descriptions (duties and responsibilities) and position requirements for training, experience, physical fitness, and position currency.
Incident Position Descriptions:
- Provide the single authoritative source for the essential duties and responsibilities for each NWCG position.
- Ensure connection between the position and established operational standards.
- Build consistency (organization, nomenclature, terminology) internal to each position and across the inventory of positions.
- Prevent unnecessary duplication of duties across positions.
- Help identify performance support needs such as job aids, training courses, and position task books.
Steps to Creating an Incident Position Description
- Review previously completed Incident Position Descriptions as examples.
- Collect duty and responsibility statements from existing standards documents, course materials, position task books, and subject matter expert experience.
- Include laterally qualified (not qualified higher than the position) personnel in this process to ensure duties and responsibilities remain at the appropriate level.
- List the source next to the statement. This creates an inventory that connects the position duties to the operations standards. This will not appear in the final IPD.
- Transfer these statements into the relevant category in the IPD Template (docx) IPD template. Check for redundancy throughout statements.
- Compare the draft IPD to the List of Standard IPD Statements. Can you use a standard statement to promote consistency across the inventory of all NWCG positions?
- Begin statements with action-oriented verbs. Avoid vague verbs such as “be familiar with,” “knowledge of,” or “understand.”
- Organize the statements in the IPD from an incident standpoint – from initial dispatch to demobilization and everything in-between.
- If this is a FEMA NQS All-Hazards position, identify which of the statements are wildland fire specific by adding "WF" behind the statement.
- Compare the IPD with others in your functional area. Are similar statements worded identically, or do they diverge? Can they be worded similarly?
- Share the draft IPDs with the pertinent NWCG committee/subgroup and NWCG staff coordinator.
- Reach out to other committees that may have an interest in providing IPD feedback. For example, the National Interagency Aviation Committee (NIAC) may want to request aviation-specific duty/knowledge/skill requirements for the DIVS position, which resides in operations. Assess input and incorporate as warranted.
- Work with the NWCG coordinator and the NWCG webmaster to post the IPDs to the NWCG website. The IPDs will be statused as “Under Review.” Widespread input from the user community will be solicited using NWCG’s MailChimp account. Assess input and incorporate as warranted.
Position Oversight Committee approval and long-term management of the IPD
When the committee charged with managing the position (see https://www.nwcg.gov/positions/committee-assignments) has completed assessing and incorporating inputs, the committee can finalize and approve the IPD. IPD should be dynamically managed according to the NWCG Standards Management Cycle; as operational standards evolve, so should the IPD.
The training design process is intended to:
- Systematically identify training and performance support needs for each incident position.
- Identify areas across multiple positions where knowledge, skills, and abilities overlap.
- Create position-specific plans that identify performance support needs such as job aids, amount and type of training, position task books, and other support materials.
- Enable training and performance support content to be developed and/or revised at the same pace as evolving operational and position standards.
The training design process evaluates each performance element of the incident position description - which are directly tied to established operations standards, for the following:
- Frequency performed.
- Difficulty/complexity of performance.
- Consequence of error if performed below standard.
- Prior knowledge/experience of performance element.
This information is used to establish a position-specific Learning and Performance Support Design Plan. The plan will recommend the type and amount of performance support needs such as job aids, training, and other capabilities necessary to develop and support individuals in each position.
The training design process will be initiated by the NWCG Training Development Program. The resulting Learning and Performance Support Design Plan will be finalized by the pertinent functional area NWCG committee with oversight from the Incident and Position Standards Committee.
The Learning and Performance Support Design Plan will inform the type and amount of performance support needs such as job aids, position task books, training, and other capabilities necessary to develop and support individuals in each position.
NWCG training supports position performance for personnel mobilized by NWCG position under NIMS-ICS principles. Training and performance support capabilities enable consistent and uniform position performance in support of nationally interoperable wildland fire operations.
Virtually all wildland fire operations in the United States are conducted according to NWCG standards adopted by the member agencies through their respective directives systems. Individual training, qualification, mobilization, equipment standardization, operational practices, business management – all are impacted by NWCG standards.
Post-operation evaluations, ranging from daily, crew-level after action reviews to comprehensive large-incident analyses, inform the evolution of NWCG standards and generate changes to the NWCG standards management cycle components.