National Wildfire Coordinating Group

Cost Unit Leader*

COST decorative banner: photos depicting COST position.

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COST Incident Position Description

The Cost Unit Leader (COST) is responsible for collecting all cost data, performing cost-effectiveness analyzes, and providing cost estimates and cost-saving recommendations. The COST reports to the Finance Section Chief (FSC).  The COST works in the Finance/Administration 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.
  • Obtain and assemble information and materials needed for kit.
  • Gather critical information pertinent to the assignment.
  • Travel to and check in at assignment.
  • Obtain briefing, objectives, and intent from the incident supervisor.

Build The Team

  • Assemble and validate readiness of assigned personnel and equipment.
  • Coordinate with Finance/Administration Section Chief and other functional areas to obtain resources.

Supervise and Direct Work Assignments

  • Establish and communicate objectives, priorities, work assignments, and performance expectations.
  • Identify, analyze, and use relevant situational information to make informed decisions and to take appropriate actions.
  • Ensure daily objectives and performance standards are met.
  • Monitor performance and provide immediate and regular feedback to assigned personnel.

Perform Cost Unit Leader-Specific Duties

  • Obtain local administrative guidelines, payment procedures, or other agency-specific requirements.
  • Utilize incident time/cost system program to analyze and manipulate data and to create outputs.
  • Provide information to the Incident Management Team (IMT), the incident agency, and the agency responsible for payment, as requested.
  • Ensure cost management measures are in place as outlined in the NWCG Standards for Interagency Incident Business Management, PMS 902.
  • Analyze incident resource cost information, including the evaluation and tracking of inefficient and uneconomical operations, and communicate information to the IMT through the Finance Section Chief.
  • Track costs in accordance with established cost-share agreements.
  • Verify incident resources and furnish updated cost data on a daily basis to the Planning Section for the inclusion in the Incident Status Summary, (ICS 209).
  • Coordinate with incident cost centers to gather on- and off-site cost information.

Communicate and Coordinate

  • Follow established processes and chain of command for collecting, producing, and distributing information.
  • Coordinate with other units and sections to complete work assignments.

Manage Risk

  • Report all accidents or injuries to the incident supervisor.
  • Account for the location, health, safety, and welfare of assigned personnel.
  • Ensure compliance with all safety practices and procedures for yourself and those around you.



  • Coordinate an efficient transfer of position duties and complete the transition document or the closeout report for the Cost Unit at the end of the assignment.
  • Complete the demobilization checkout process before being released from the incident.
  • Upon demobilization, report your status to your home unit, including a reassignment or the estimated time of arrival (ETA) to your home unit.


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