National Wildfire Coordinating Group

Ground Support Unit Leader

GSUL decorative banner: photos depicting GSUL position. GSUL Position Description: The Ground Support Unit Leader (GSUL) is responsible for transporting personnel, supplies, food, and equipment; fueling, servicing, maintaining, and repairing vehicles and other ground support equipment; supporting out-of-service resources; and developing and implementing the Incident Transportation Plan.

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GSUL Incident Position Description

The Ground Support Unit Leader (GSUL) is responsible for managing, organizing, and supervising the Ground Support Unit on wildland fire incidents and provides support functions for transportation, fuel, and equipment repairs to all sections on the incident. The GSUL supervises Equipment Manager(s) (EQPM), contractors, and driver(s) and reports to the Logistics Section Chief (LSC) or Support Branch Director (SUBD). The GSUL works in the Logistics 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.
  • Travel to and check in at assignment.
  • Check in with incident supervisor and/or dispatch when arriving at the incident.
  • Review Incident Action Plan (IAP) and obtain briefing, objectives, and intent from supervisor.
  • Obtain briefing from previous shift/assignment position as necessary.

Build the Team

  • Assemble and validate readiness of assigned personnel and equipment.
  • Establish and communicate chain of command, reporting procedures, unit ordering protocols (who can order for the unit), risk management processes, and radio frequency management.
  • Establish and maintain positive interpersonal and interagency working relationships.
  • Establish a common operating picture with supervisors and subordinates.
  • Participate in operational briefings as directed.
  • Brief assigned personnel.
  • Identify assigned resources and maintain accountability.
  • Review and understand agreement/contract language and scope of work.

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 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 incident objectives and performance standards are met.
  • Monitor performance and provide immediate and regular feedback to assigned personnel.

Perform Ground Support Unit Leader-Specific Duties

  • Coordinate with Logistics Section Chief (LSC) and/or Facility Unit Leader (FACL) on unit location and facilities, including:
    • Ground Support Unit work area
    • Equipment Inspection area
    • Fueling location – at basecamp or offsite
    • Heavy equipment staging area
    • Noxious weed washing station
  • Provide support for assigned resources, including fuel, equipment inspections, mechanical services and repairs, transportation and drivers, and rental vehicles.
  • Communicate changes in operations for ground support to incident resources.
  • Coordinate with Planning section and FACL to develop an incident transportation plan and map.
  • Establish a numbering system to track equipment, e.g. rental vehicles.
  • Coordinate with Operations section for placement of drop point signs.
  • Ensure signage is placed along transportation routes, drop points, staging areas, water sources, road junctions, and service locations.
  • Coordinate with other unit leaders on any equipment and support service needs necessary for the incident.
  • Coordinate with Finance/Administration section on incident facility contracts/agreements for services, equipment, and personnel.
  • Collect and record information on rental, contract, and agency equipment.
  • Provide fuel, service, maintenance, and repair of vehicles and other equipment.
  • Coordinate with home unit(s) regarding vehicle repairs for agency and cooperator equipment.
  • Coordinate maintenance and repair of incident roads.
  • Ensure pre- and post-use vehicle and equipment inspections are completed.
  • Ensure that Finance/Administration section has necessary inspection documentation for assigned resources.
  • Coordinate with other unit leaders to complete required documentation, objectives, and assignments.
  • Adjust work assignments as needed to meet operational support.
  • Provide for the safety and welfare of assigned resources.
  • Coordinate with other units to manage hazardous materials (e.g. fuel, oil, foam) according to applicable regulations.
  • Coordinate with safety officer and agency representative to ensure driver familiarity with conditions.
  • Identify environmental and political constraints for service, repair, and fueling areas.
  • Plan for potential changes in incident based on current and forecasted information.
  • Monitor restrictions/work requirements for each resource to maximize safe and efficient assignments and demobilization.
  • Establish and maintain positive internal and external interpersonal working relationships.
  • Assess and order needed support staff.
  • In the absence of Equipment Manager(s), assume that role, and responsibility.

Communicate and Coordinate

  • Communicate effectively using multichannel radios. Use plain language and Incident Command System (ICS) terminology.
  • Ensure assigned resources understand procedures for radio operation.
  • Follow established processes and chain of command for collecting, producing, and distributing information.
  • Ensure clear understanding of expectations and timely communication within and across ICS functional areas and chain of command.
  • Establish communications and exchange necessary briefings/information with the following:
    • Support resources
    • Adjacent resources
    • Supervisor
    • Other ICS functional areas
  • Conduct and/or participate in After Action Reviews (AAR).

Manage Risk

  • Apply the Risk Management Process as stated in the NWCG Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG), PMS 461:
    • Identify Hazards
    • Assess Hazards
    • Develop Controls and Make Risk Decisions
    • Implement Controls
    • Supervise and Evaluate
    • Ensure work rest protocols are adhered to
  • Plan for medical emergencies. Ensure that assigned resources are prepared to execute the Medical Plan (ICS 206 WF). Ensure familiarity with medical responders, communication procedures, and transportation plan. Manage the medical emergency based on procedures stated in the IAP, Medical Incident Report, or other relevant guidelines.
  • Monitor personnel for signs and symptoms of fatigue, illness, or injury. Mitigate appropriately.
  • Identify potential conflicts and resolve within the same operational period, if possible.



  • Anticipate demobilization, identify excess resources, coordinate with Operations to prepare demobilization schedule, and communicate with supervisor.
  • Coordinate with Resources Unit and Demobilization Unit to assign demobilization times for personnel and vehicles, engines, crew carriers, and equipment to avoid congestion of inspection areas.
  • Plan for demobilization. Brief assigned resources on demobilization procedures and responsibilities. Ensure incident and agency demobilization procedures and work/rest driving standards are followed.
  • Return equipment and supplies to appropriate unit.
  • Ensure all documentation is provided to incoming team or documentation leader.
  • 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:
    • Ensure continuity of operations.
    • Exchange critical safety information.
    • Communicate transfer of authority through established chain of command.


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