National Wildfire Coordinating Group

Airtanker Base Manager

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ATBM Incident Position Description

The Airtanker Base Manager (ATBM) provides supervision and coordination of airtanker base operations. The ATBM may report to the local aviation manager and/or incident air operations. The ATBM works in the Air Operations functional area.
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Leadership Level 3, Leader of People (Develop Intent)

  • For additional information review Level 3 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.
  • Obtain and assemble information and materials needed for kit as referenced in the NWCG Standards for Airtanker Base Operations (SABO), PMS 508.
  • Travel to and check in at assignment.
  • Review Base Operations Plan and obtain initial briefing from supervisor.
  • Establish agency contacts and identify chain of command that includes Fire Management Officer, aviation officer, dispatch, incident contact or Air Support Group Supervisor (ASGS), and procurement person.
  • Obtain briefing from previous ATBM, Fixed Wing Base Manager (FWBM), or Single Engine Airtanker Manager (SEMG) as necessary.

Build the Team

  • Identify assigned resources and maintain accountability.
  • Assemble and validate readiness of assigned personnel and equipment.
  • Establish and communicate: chain of command; reporting procedures; risk management processes; radio frequency management.
  • Participate in operational briefings.
  • Obtain and distribute Incident Action Plans (IAP), other relevant plans, maps, and local area information.
  • Brief assigned personnel using Base Operations Plan, hot loading plan, ramp management plan, local aviation plan, and storm water pollution and prevention plan (SWPPP) when in place.
  • Ensure adequate airtanker base staffing. Assign tasks and specific duties to airtanker base personnel. If additional staffing is required, work with the dispatch center and local Geographic Area Coordination Center (GACC) to place resource orders.
  • Ensure that all personnel have been trained in their positions and in specific operations that are conducted at the airtanker base including procedures such as hot loading, single engine airtanker operations, simultaneous fueling and loading, etc.

Supervise and Direct Work Assignments

  • Establish and communicate objectives, priorities, work assignments, and performance expectations.
  • Identify, analyze, and use relevant situational information to make more informed decisions and take appropriate actions.
  • Adjust actions based on changing information and evolving situation awareness. Develop and implement contingency plans. Communicate changing conditions to assigned resources and supervisor.
  • Ensure daily operational objectives and performance standards are met.
  • Monitor performance and provide immediate and regular feedback to assigned personnel.

Perform Airtanker Base Manager-Specific Duties

  • Request communications and operations support through the ASGS.
  • Utilize agency policies and guidance such as the SABO in decision making and planning.
  • Develop and/or implement local Airtanker Base Operations Plan (ABOP) providing for and enforcing accountability, safety, and security measures for personnel and resources.
  • Order and secure all necessary facilities, supplies, equipment, and services required at the operating base.
  • Ensure adequate space for ramp operations as well as day off/maintenance parking and transient aircraft.
  • Conduct initial pilot in-briefing with contractor personnel. Review Base Operations Plan and local SOPs.
  • Ensure operations adhere to agency guidelines and regulations, as well as relevant national requirements.
  • Maintain adequate supplies of water and retardants/suppressants at the operating base by securing a local water source and scheduling retardant/suppressant deliveries in a timely manner.
  • Maintain lot acceptance and quality control standards during retardant delivery and mixing operations of retardant/suppressant products.
  • Ensure retardant quality. Contractor or agency personnel (when appropriate) will mix retardant, test to specifications and conduct periodic assurance checks prior to loading aircraft by monitoring refractometer readings. Assurance checks will be documented and files maintained by ATBM.
  • Ensure that federally-contracted aircraft are only loaded with fire chemicals on the Qualified Products List (QPL).
  • Ensure retardant lot acceptance and quality assurance procedures are followed by routing samples accordingly. Refer to National Technology and Development Center in Missoula.
  • Assist with maintenance and repairs of equipment and facility as appropriate.
  • Work in a team environment to identify and resolve correction items.
  • Maintain and update the base reference library.
  • Ensure pilot and aircraft are operational and contractual requirements are met.
  • Keep informed on predicted weather, fire behavior, and incident action plans to ensure an adequate supply of Wildland Fire Chemicals (WFC) is available.
  • Designate safe zones for Ground Support Equipment (GSE). Ensures all airtanker base personnel are trained in identifying properly secured GSE.
  • Administer airtanker base, retardant, and aircraft contracts, and agreements.
  • Provide for all logistical needs of the base, personnel, and contractors.
  • Establish layout of base operations area that includes loading pit, fueling area, aircraft parking, vehicle parking, pilot/crew rest area, storage, and applicable expansion space.
  • Review the National Retardant Contract and payment procedures.
  • Conduct initial contractor inspection. Validate pilot and aircraft cards, complete pre-use inspection of aircraft and support/service equipment.
  • Obtain the Modular Airborne Firefighting System (MAFFS) Operating Plan if the base is MAFFS approved.

Communicate and Coordinate

  • Serve as liaison to airport management, federal, state, and local officials, the military, aircraft vendors, contractors, and Fixed Based Operators (FBOs), etc.
  • Communicate aircraft and staffing status to dispatch on a daily basis.
  • Communicate and coordinate Aircrew and Base Personnel needs. Assist aircrews in arranging for transportation and lodging as appropriate.
  • Coordinate all tactical aircraft missions with local dispatch, GACC, aerial supervision, and/or the ASGS. Obtains daily or more frequent briefings from one or all of these positions regarding mission priorities.
  • Conduct initial and daily or more frequent briefings with pilots, contract personnel, agency employees, and cooperator personnel.
  • Coordinate with Incident Management Team (IMT) aviation operations staff during large incidents to facilitate duty-day start time, frequencies, costs, logistical needs, and safety concerns.
  • Enforce the National Airtanker Rotation Policy.
  • Establish contacts and develop good working relationships with local agency, aircrew, and contractor personnel in order to provide safe and efficient base operations.
  • Ensure communications are established and there is information flow between the base, aircraft, and dispatch office.
  • Establish communications and exchange necessary information with the following:
    • Ramp Manager (RAMP)/Fixed Wing Parking Tenders (FWPT)
    • Flight Crews/Pilots
    • Mix Masters and Loaders
    • Fuelers/Fuel truck drivers
    • FBO when applicable
  • Ensure important operational information such as roll times, aircraft availability, days off, and rotation is communicated with base personnel, local management, dispatch, and other bases as appropriate.
  • Provide related information on daily aircraft status or changes; maintain contact with Contracting Officer’s Representative (COR) or Project Inspector (PI) for the aircraft.
  • Facilitate After Action Reviews (AARs) and discuss improvement opportunities including adjustments in operations, with appropriate personnel.

Manage Risk

  • Apply Aviation Safety & Risk Management Systems to include Policy, Risk Management, Assurance, and Promotion.
  • Apply principles of Operational Risk Management:
    • Identify and assess risks or hazards
    • Develop controls or mitigations
    • Make Risk decisions, or elevate as appropriate to the next management level
    • Implement controls or mitigations
    • Supervise and Evaluate
  • Utilize aviation safety managers to assist with the risk management process and provide input into safety of operations.
  • Ensure adequate quantities of required personal protective equipment (PPE) are available and order additional PPE as necessary.
  • Plan for emergencies. Ensure that assigned resources are prepared to execute the NWCG Interagency Aviation Mishap Response Guide and Checklist, PMS 503. Ensure familiarity with medical responders, communication procedures, and transportation plan.
  • Responsible for safety management, including risk assessments and mitigations, for the airtanker base.
  • Ensure hazardous materials are transported in accordance with the Interagency Transport of Hazardous Materials Guide.
  • Responsible for movement of assigned aircraft, vehicles, and personnel at the airtanker base.
  • Ensure that adequate fire, medical, and emergency equipment is readily available at the airtanker base and all personnel are trained appropriately.
  • Request and post updated aerial hazard and temporary flight restriction (TFR) maps from area forest, district, unit, or land managers.
  • Submit agency Incident/Accident Reports and SAFECOMs per agency policy.
  • Provide on the spot correction of safety concerns and issues.
  • Coordinate with the agency safety representative to establish and maintain airtanker base and retardant plant safety plans, as required, to be compliant with agency and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations.
  • Identify and follow agency policy and guidance as it relates to the security of the base facility.
  • Ensure only authorized personnel and activities are allowed on the ramp.
  • Evaluate personal safety considerations and attitudes of personnel in regard to risk management when conducting base operations. This may include but is not limited to fatigue, dehydration, distractions, qualifications, and training.
  • Develop, update, or review, a mishap response plan; ensure plan is posted.
  • Brief personnel on crash rescue and mishap response procedures for the base.
  • Ensure personnel are trained in the maintenance and use of fire extinguishers and procedures to be followed in the event of a fire emergency on the ramp.
  • Monitor ground operations for safety during loading, taxi, and fueling operations.
  • Conduct a retardant quality assurance check using a refractometer to ensure the mixed product meets required specifications.
  • Coordinate efforts to ensure that all fuel and retardant spills, regardless of size, are properly cleaned according to the established base procedures or environmental and/or hazardous materials procedures.
  • Coordinate with the local Safety Officer to enforce compliance with all agency, local, and state health and safety requirements. Responsible for the maintenance and update of the base safety and security plan, Incident/Accident Action Plan, and Aviation Mishap Response Guide and Checklist.
  • Identify and ensure spill containment, cleanup, and disposal procedures are followed by ramp and contractor personnel. Notify appropriate contacts.
  • Monitor ramp operations for safety and efficiency.
  • Monitor personnel working on the ramp for fatigue, stress, and distraction.
  • Prepare and respond to emergencies as training and qualifications allow.
  • Resolve all safety concerns encountered in any aspect of aircraft, ramp, and/or personnel operations. By initiating corrective actions, these risks can be mitigated and/or removed. The ATBM should discuss any concerns and possible corrective actions with local aviation management.
  • Coordinate and manage a safe flight environment that includes sterile cockpit compliance.
  • Account for location, health, safety, and welfare of assigned personnel.
  • Schedule and manage work to ensure flight and/or duty hours of pilots, mechanics, and fuel truck drivers are not exceeded.
  • Obtain or complete facilities security assessment for hosting agency base of operations.
  • Develop and implement accountability, safety, and security measures for personnel and resources
  • Enforce all safety requirements for work area.


  • Ensure all training is documented for airtanker base personnel. Identify and correct training deficiencies.
  • Ensure proper payment document is completed as per contracting agency.
  • Utilize computer for daily contract documentation, spreadsheets, various websites, payment procedures, data input, and Automated Flight Following (AFF).
  • Develop, update, or review, a mishap response plan; ensure plan is posted.
  • Collect and record accurate daily flight and cost data, landing fees, and retardant use. Submit required forms to the appropriate personnel by close of business (COB) daily. Maintain all use records per agency guidelines.
  • Ensure the daily log is completed accurately and timely by COB daily.
  • Crew Time Report (CTR), SF-261 (Watch: How to correctly fill out a CTR)
  • Maintain time and use records on equipment, retardant, and personnel assigned to the airtanker base.
  • Ensure that the SABO, NWCG Standards for Single Engine Airtanker Operations, PMS 506, OSHA, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Reports, and/or agency forms and reports are completed as required.
  • Initiate and maintain required administrative forms such as Single Engine Airtanker (SEAT) daily operations worksheet, cumulative pilot duty-day log, cost summary, or identified items outlined in the NWCG Standards for Single Engine Airtanker Operations, PMS 506.
  • Ensure retardant use summary is accurately maintained.
  • Ensure Incident Personnel Performance Rating, (ICS 225 WF) (NFES 001576) for all airtanker base support personnel (qualified or trainee) on assignment are completed and sent to home unit.


  • Anticipate demobilization, identify excess resources, and coordinate with assigned resources to prepare demobilization schedule.
  • Plan for demobilization. Brief assigned resources on demobilization procedures and responsibilities. Ensure incident and agency demobilization procedures are followed.
  • Restore base areas to pre-incident or pre-season condition.
  • Ensure equipment and supplies are returned to appropriate unit.
  • Supervise the demobilization of personnel, equipment, and supplies.
  • Check out with appropriate agency or incident personnel prior to departure and complete closeout/debriefing.


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