Aircraft Base Radio Operator

ABRO decorative banner: photos depicting ABRO position. ABRO Position Description: The Aircraft Base Radio Operator (ABRO) reports to the Helibase Manager or Fixed-Wing Base Manager and is responsible for establishing communication between incident assigned aircraft and airbases, Air Tactical Group Supervisor, Air Operations Branch Director, and the Takeoff and Landing Coordinator.

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The Aircraft Base Radio Operator (ABRO) reports to the Helibase Manager or Fixed-Wing Base Manager and is responsible for establishing communication between incident assigned aircraft and airbases, Air Tactical Group Supervisor, Air Operations Branch Director, and the Takeoff and Landing Coordinator.

Aircraft Base Radio Operator, ABRO

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The ABRO is supervised by the Helibase Manager and is responsible for establishing and facilitating communications among incident or project assigned helicopters, helibases, helispots, air operations staff and / or Resource Aviation Manager.  This individual is key to efficient communications, flight following, mission assignments and providing takeoff and landing advisories.

The ABRO should communicate frequently with the Helibase Manager concerning mission assignments, priorities, etc. The Helibase Manager should review the requirements of Helibase Mission Request Log, HBM-6, and Flight Following Log, HBM-5, with the ABRO(s) prior to the start of operations.

After the morning briefing, the ABRO should review the Incident Action or Project Aviation Plan in depth. The ABRO should post ICS Form 205, Incident Radio Communication Plan, for quick reference. The position is instrumental in recommending and establishing a communication plan for the helibase.

Information from the Communication Plan, ICS-205, should be transferred to the Helibase Organization Chart, which lists aircraft frequencies, and to the Air Operations Communications Plan.

Minimum training, qualification and currency requirements of the Aircraft Base Radio Operator position on incidents are outlined in the NIMS: Wildland Fire Qualification System Guide, PMS 310-1.

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Aircraft Base Radio Operator Duties and Responsibilities

  1. Obtain briefing from Helibase Manager; obtain Incident Action or Project Aviation Safety Plan, or, at a minimum, Air Operations Summary, ICS-220, Communications Plan,ICS-205, Medical Unit Plan, ICS-206, and Incident or Project Map.
  2. Receive orders for support or tactical missions, enter on the Helibase Mission Request Log, and assign these missions in consultation with the Helibase Manager. If conflicts among missions occur, the ABRO should inform the Helibase Manager.
  3. Coordinate with the Helibase Manager, Deck Coordinator and Parking Tenders on helicopter flight routes and patterns; establish approach/departure procedures with Pilots; ensure established flight routes and patterns in and out of the helibase are maintained; control movement of helicopters in hover lanes.
  4. If applicable, receive approval from ATGS or HLCO before directing aircraft for takeoff.
  5. Establish procedures for and maintain flight following with all assigned aircraft utilizing the Helibase Flight Following Log.
  6. Establish and maintain discrete communications with all incoming and outgoing helicopters.
  7. Obtain necessary timekeeping forms and record operational times of assigned helicopters; as needed, track available time (flight and duty day) remaining utilizing the Helibase Flight Time Tracking Record; record other information on the Helibase Aircraft Information Summary.
  8. Understand crash rescue and medevac procedures and notifications; notify supervisor immediately of any overdue, missing, or crashed aircraft; institute emergency response procedures if necessary. Refer to the Helibase Emergency Response Plan and Incident Medical Plan, ICS 206.
  9. Coordinate with the Helibase Manager and DECK, attend the nightly debriefing and provide feedback on problems encountered; recommend corrective actions.


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Structure Protection Specialist (STPS) Crew Representative (CREP) Firefighter (FFT1/2) Single Resource Boss (CRWB, HEQB, ENGB, FELB, FIRB, HMGB) Task Force/Strike Team Leader (TFLD, STCR, STEQ, STEN) Division/Group Supervisor (DIVS) Operations Branch Director (OPBD) Staging Area Manager (STAM) Single Engine Air Tanker Manager (SEMG) Deck Coordinator (DECK) Takeoff and Landing Coordinator (TOLC) Aircraft Base Radio Operator (ABRO) Helicopter Crewmember (HECM) Helibase Manager (HEB1/2) Air Support Group Supervisor (ASGS) Air Tanker/Fixed Wing Coordinator (ATCO) Helicopter Coordinator (HLCO) Air Tactical Group Supervisor (ATGS) Air Operations Branch Director (AOBD) OPERATIONS SECTION CHIEF (OSC1/2) Operations Section Chief (OPS3) Operations Branch Director (OPBD) Structure Protection Specialist (STPS) Division/Group Supervisor (DIVS) Crew Representative (CREP) Task Force Leader (TFLD) Crew Boss, Single Resource (CRWB) Heavy Equipment Boss, Single Resource (HEQB) Engine Boss, Single Resource (ENGB) Felling Boss, Single Resource (FELB) Firing Boss, Single Resource (FIRB) Helicopter Manager, Single Resource (HMGB) Operations Section Chief (OSC2) Staging Area Manager (STAM) Air Operations Branch Director (AOBD) Air Support Group Supervisor (ASGS) Helibase Manager (HEBM) Deck Coordinator (DECK) Aircraft Base Radio Operator (ABRO) Helicopter Crew Member (HECM) Air Tactical Group Supervisor (ATGS) Helicopter Coordinator (HLCO) Firefighter Type 1 (FFT1) Firefighter Type 2 (FFT2) Strike Team Leader Crew (STCR) Strike Team Leader Heavy Equipment (STEQ) Strike Team Leader Engine (STEN) Operations Section Chief (OSC1) Advanced Faller (FAL1) Intermediate Faller (FAL2) Basic Faller (FAL3) Fixed Wing Base Manager (FWBM) Airtanker Base Manager (ATBM) Fixed Wing Parking Tender (FWPT) Mixmaster (MXMS) Retardant Crew Member (RTCM) Single Engine Airtanker Manager (SEMG) Aircraft Time Keeper (ATIM) Ramp Manager (RAMP)

The Forest Service and Department of Interior are enabled by Administratively Determined Pay Plans (AD Pay Plans) to hire persons for temporary duration for the following reasons:

  1. To cope with a sudden and unexpected emergency caused by a fire, or extreme fire potential, flood, storm, or any other all-hazard emergency that threatens damage to federally protected property, has the potential to cause loss of life, serious injury, public health risk, or damage to natural or cultural resources unless brought under immediate control.
  2. To provide emergency assistance to States under formalized agreements.
  3. To meet mission assignments issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) Incident Business Committee (IBC) reviews positions annually and establishes pay rate classifications for each position.

For more information on the AD Pay Plans, go to

Position change history for this position will be available shortly.


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