National Wildfire Coordinating Group

Area Commander

ACDR decorative banner: photos depicting ACDR position. ACDR Position Description: Area Command (ACDR) is an expansion of the incident command function. It is designed to manage a very large incident that has multiple IMTs assigned. These teams may be established any time the incidents are close enough that oversight direction is required. This is to ensure that resource allocation conflicts do not arise among the IMTs.

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ACDR Incident Position Description

The Area Commander (ACDR) is responsible for setting priorities for the use of critical resources among multiple Incident Management Teams (IMT) in an assigned area or allocating/reallocating resources during a single, large-scale incident/event. Area Command may be established when oversight direction is required to ensure that resource allocation conflicts do not arise among the IMTs. The Area Commander reports to the Agency Administrator (AA) and works in the Command functional area.

An Area Command organization is normally small with personnel assigned to the Command, Planning, and Logistics functions. Depending on the complexity of the interface between the incidents, specialists in other areas, such as aviation, hazardous materials, environment, and finance, may also be assigned to Area Command.
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Leadership Level 5, Leader of Organizations (Create Vision)

  • For additional information review Level 5 description, expected behaviors and knowledge, suggested development goals, and self-study opportunities.

Prepare and Mobilize

  • Ensure individual readiness.
  • Gather critical information pertinent to the assignment.
  • Discuss team configuration and size with requesting agency.
  • Establish/determine method of travel and team arrival time and location.
  • Contact Assistant Area Commanders and confirm mobilization status of team members.
  • Travel to incident and monitor team mobilization status.
  • Meet with AA and receive a Delegation of Authority and other pertinent documentation as applicable to the incident.

Build The Team

  • Assemble appropriate team members and receive an in-brief of the current status of incident(s).
  • After the in-brief, establish a common operating picture with Area Command team, AAs, and IMTs assigned.
  • Determine if the team is right sized for the incident and the expectations of the requesting agency.
  • Review the Organizational Needs Analysis (ONA) for current and expected conditions of all incidents under the team’s command.
  • Develop, monitor, and refine as necessary Area Command expectations and roles for the assignment and obtain concurrence of AA.
  • Meet with AA to accept the assignment and communicate any follow-up issues.

Supervise and Direct Work Assignments

  • Establish strategies, common operating picture, and objectives; communicate priorities and expectations based on AA direction.
  • Identify political or agency issues that may impact the IMTs or the incidents under their command.
  • Coordinate with cooperators and stakeholders and facilitate meetings as needed.
  • Support and advise AAs as needed.
  • Ensure incidents within the delegated area have appropriate complexity level Incident Command System (ICS) organizations in place.

Perform Area Commander-Specific Duties

  • Develop broad objectives for the impacted area and coordinate the development of individual incident objectives and strategies.
  • Set priorities for the use of critical resources among multiple IMTs or allocate/reallocate resources during a single large-scale incident.
  • Complete a periodic review of the Delegation of Authority, ONA, and Wildland Fire Decision Support (WFDSS) documents, and communicate status with AA.
  • Participate in any conference calls or meetings as established by agencies.
  • Review Incident Action Plans (IAPs) for consistency with strategy and common operating picture.
  • Ensure IMTs are reviewing WFDSS documentation for compliance with AA direction and compatibility among incidents, safety, and cost effectiveness.
  • Provide performance standards to IMTs.
  • Monitor and evaluate IMT performance.
  • Establish resource allocation priorities and ensure they are followed.

Communicate and Coordinate

  • Establish processes and chain of command for collecting, producing, and distributing information.
  • Schedule and attend community meetings as needed.
  • Coordinate a consistent communication strategy among the IMTs based on AA direction.
  • Establish meetings and/or conference call schedule as needed with IMTs, geographic areas, and/or Multi-Agency Coordination (MAC) groups.
  • Ensure clear understanding of expectations and timely communication within and across ICS functional areas and chain of command.
  • Establish communications and exchange necessary information/briefings with the following:
    • Cooperating and assisting resources
    • Adjacent incidents
    • AAs
    • Dispatch and coordinating centers/agencies

Manage Risk

  • Set measurable objectives that minimize the level of risk while achieving the highest probability of success.
  • Monitor daily strategic progress and modify objectives for risk versus value.
  • Anticipate and analyze long-term, big-picture potential consequences, and develop mitigation alternatives using the decision support systems.
  • Review accidents and injuries to identify trends and modify strategy as appropriate.


  • Ensure that all original documents are provided to documentation unit and delivered to respective agencies at the termination of Area Command.
  • Maintain a log of strategic decisions and significant events for inclusion in Area Command final package.


  • Develop a demobilization plan with timeline for the AAs, IMTs, and coordination system, including MACs.
  • Conduct a closeout and performance review with all IMTs before demobilization.
  • Assist agency with complexity analysis in a timely manner to facilitate appropriate transfer of command.
  • Plan for demobilization. Brief assigned resources on demobilization procedures and responsibilities. Ensure incident and agency demobilization procedures are followed.
  • Conduct an After Action Review (AAR) with team members prior to release.
  • Ensure that team members travel after appropriate rest and that all Area Command staff arrive safely at their regular duty station.


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