National Wildfire Coordinating Group

Assistant Area Commander, Planning

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ACPC Incident Position Description

The Assistant Area Commander, Planning (ACPC) is responsible for collecting, evaluating, managing, and disseminating information among multiple Incident Management Teams (IMT) in an assigned area or on single, large-scale incidents/events, based upon Area Command priorities and objectives. Area Command may be established when oversight direction is required to ensure that resource allocation conflicts do not arise among the IMTs. The ACPC reports to the Area Commander (ACDR) and works in the Planning 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, including delegation of authority to ACDR from Agency Administrators (AA).
  • Check-in with incident supervisor and/or dispatch when arriving at the incident.
  • Review Daily Management Plan (DMP) and obtain briefing, objectives, and intent from supervisor.
  • Review Incident Action Plans (IAP) from assigned incidents and obtain briefing, objectives, and intent from supervisor.
  • Obtain briefing from previous shift/assignment ACPC as necessary, including incident status, assigned resources, existing Planning sections, current planning cycles, and projected resource glidepath/demobilization.

Build The Team

  • Assemble and validate readiness of assigned personnel and equipment.  Identify skills necessary to staff your section.  Order and track status of ordered resources and supplies.
  • Establish and communicate chain of command, reporting procedures, and risk management processes.
  • Establish a common operating picture with Area Command Team, AA, and assigned IMTs.
  • Brief assigned personnel.
  • Maintain accountability of assigned resources.

Supervise and Direct Work Assignments

  • Establish and communicate objectives, priorities, work assignments, and performance expectations.
  • Identify and communicate needs for Area Command Post (ACP) work locations, equipment, and set up for assigned resources.
  • Identify, analyze, and use relevant situational information to make informed decisions and take appropriate actions.
  • Adjust actions based on changing information and evolving situation awareness.
  • Monitor performance and provide immediate and regular feedback to assigned personnel.
  • Coach and mentor Planning sections of assigned IMTs and assist ACDR with support of AA.
  • Staff section with single resources as necessary, based on changes in incident situation and resource status.

Perform Assistant Area Commander, Planning-Specific Duties

  • Assist ACDR in preparation of delegation of authority and leader’s intent to Incident Commanders (IC). Establish and maintain Area Command planning cycle. Communicate expected time frames for briefings, planning meetings, and team meetings to other sections and to IMTs.
  • Assemble information on individual incident objectives and begin to identify potential conflicts and/or ways for incidents to develop compatible operations.
  • Organize planning meeting location and ensure necessary materials are available.
  • Facilitate Area Command meetings and briefings during the planning cycle. Prepare material and conduct special situation briefings for the ACDR and staff as required.
  • Establish regular communication with IMT Planning Section Chiefs (PSC) and unit leaders.
  • Establish information requirements and reporting schedules for Area Command plans section.
  • Develop and implement contingency plans. Communicate changing conditions to assigned resources and supervisor.
  • Ensure advanced planning and conduct strategic planning to include one and three days beyond next operational period.
  • Monitor status of incidents within Area Command. Coordinate with IMTs and Area Command staff to develop situational awareness.
  • Collect and review incident status reports and understand strategies to prioritize resource allocation.
  • Assist and support IMTs with special support needs as necessary (e.g., weather, fire behavior, environmental, toxins, etc.).
  • Identify and coordinate specialized positions (i.e., Incident Meteorologist [IMET] or AA) to ensure proper resource allocation.
  • Ensure the collection, processing, and organizing of all Area Command incident information.
  • Prepare, collect, evaluate, disseminate, and use incident information from IMTs assigned to Area Command to develop the DMP.
  • Coordinate with Area Command staff to assure the DMP as proposed can be implemented and supported by available Area Command resources and reconcile any differences within Area Command and IMTs.
  • Supervise or accomplish preparation and distribution of the DMP. Obtain elements from appropriate sources (e.g., IMTs under Area Command, dispatch, and/or Area Command staff) within established time frames.
  • Compile future projections of incident growth, maps, and intelligence to ensure understanding of individual strategies under Area Command.
  • Identify or reaffirm incident Area Command objectives throughout the assignment.
  • Implement, describe, and utilize necessary agency policy, legal and fiscal constraints, and political considerations.
  • Maintain accurate and up-to-date incident files, provide duplication services, and ensure proper storage of incident files for legal, analytical, and historical purposes.
  • Work with technical specialist(s) (e.g., hazardous materials specialist, environmental specialists, Burned Area Emergency Rehabilitation [BAER] Team, and Resource Advisors [READ]) and keep updated on their activities.
  • Coordinate incident suppression repair needs with responsible agencies and technical specialist(s).
  • Ensure all incident reports and narratives are completed and debrief AA (as directed) upon completion of the incident.
  • Serve as an advisor to AA to complete a periodic review of the delegation of authority, Organizational Needs Analysis (ONA), and Wildland Fire Decision Support (WFDSS) documents, and communicate status with AA.

Communicate and Coordinate

  • Ensure clear understanding of expectations and timely communication with assigned IMTs and Area Command.
  • Collect meeting/briefing schedules of IMTs assigned under Area Command. Share as appropriate with assigned support staff, adjacent IMTs, AA, and dispatch.
  • Keep supervisor and assigned personnel informed of organizational changes within the Area Command Planning section and IMTs.
  • Conduct and/or participate in After Action Reviews (AAR). Host internal Area Command AAR. Participate in IMT AARs as requested.  Participate in closeout and/or AAR with host agency and IMTs as requested.

Manage Risk

  • Ensure risk management processes are maintained throughout the incident and reflected in the DMP.
  • Plan for medical emergencies. Ensure that proper section develops the Medical Plan (ICS 206 WF) for inclusion in the DMP.
  • Ensure an Area Command check-in process is in place to ensure accountability of visitors and Area Command personnel.
  • Monitor or supervise staff to account for location, health, safety, and welfare of assigned personnel.
  • Report all accidents or injuries to the incident supervisor.
  • Ensure compliance with all safety practices and procedures for resources assigned to Area Command.
  • Ensure work/rest policy guidelines are managed for assigned personnel.


  • Schedule, develop agenda, and facilitate in-brief for incoming IMTs.
  • Ensure adequate documentation of all actions taken by Area Command. Provide the host agency with a final documentation package including incident narrative.
  • Complete, authorize, ensure timeliness of, and route as required: 
    • DMP (containing applicable ICS Forms)
    • Key decision log
  • Collect information from assigned IMTs to support Area Command decision making process, including:
    • Incident Status Summary (ICS 209)
    • Incident IAPs
    • WFDSS decisions
    • GIS spatial data and maps


  • Anticipate demobilization and identify excess Area Command resources. Provide expectations for incident demobilization priorities and timelines to assigned IMTs, and coordinate allocation/reallocation of assigned resources among assigned incidents/IMTs.
  • Ensure incident and agency demobilization procedures and work/rest driving standards are followed by Area Command resources.
  • Coordinate with local dispatch center to ensure air travel is coordinated efficiently.
  • Complete demobilization checkout process before being released from the incident.
  • Upon demobilization, report status to home unit including reassignment or estimated time of arrival (ETA) to home unit.
  • During transfer of command between Area Command teams:
    • Ensure continuity of operations.
    • Exchange critical safety information.
    • Compile Area Command transition plan
    • Communicate transfer of authority through established chain of command.
  • Work with ACDR to schedule closeout and performance reviews with all assigned IMTs prior to the demobilization process.


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