National Wildfire Coordinating Group

Wildland Fire Investigator

INVF decorative banner: photos depicting INVF position.

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INVF Incident Position Description

The Wildland Fire Investigator (INVF) is responsible for investigating wildland fires. The INVF may report to the Wildland Fire Investigation Team Leader (INTL - proposed position), the Incident Commander (IC), or their designee. The INVF works in the Prevention and Investigation functional area.
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Leadership Level 1, Follower (Provide Action)

  • For additional information review Level 1 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.
  • Obtain briefing from incident supervisor.

Build The Team

  • Establish and communicate chain of command, reporting procedures, risk management processes, and radio frequency management.

Supervise and Direct Work Assignments

  • Adjust actions based on changing information and evolving situation awareness.  Develop and implement contingency plans. Communicate changing conditions to assigned resources and supervisor.
  • Identify, analyze, and use relevant situational information to make informed decisions and take appropriate actions.

Perform Wildland Fire Investigator-Specific Duties

  • Conduct wildland fire investigations and follow wildland fire investigation administrative and legal procedures.
  • Apply laws, rules, and regulations applicable to agency/jurisdiction for wildland fire investigation.
  • Apply administrative, civil, and criminal process(es) to wildland fire investigation in agency/jurisdiction.
  • Identify and secure fire origin using standard methods.
  • Gather and record fire behavior observations relevant to determining fire origin and cause.
  • Locate and protect the general and specific origin areas of the fire.
  • Use proper origin search techniques to determine fire origin.
  • Identify cause of a wildfire.
  • Identify possible wildland fire arson indicators, if applicable.
  • Search for, protect and preserve, and collect evidence while maintaining chain of custody.
  • Identify wildland fire burn pattern macro and micro indicators and use them to track wildfire spread.
  • Identify and interview anyone who may have knowledge that may be useful in the investigation.
  • Consult with supervisor on resource needs.
  • Establish accurate logistical needs and notify supervisor.
  • Provide situation updates and accomplishments to supervisor.
  • Prepare an investigative report.
  • Present case to administrators and/or attorneys for consideration of legal action.
  • Provide documents for court actions, criminal actions, etc.
  • Prepare a professional resume/curriculum vitae (CV).
  • Present effective testimony during court cases when necessary.

Communicate and Coordinate

  • Follow established processes and chain of command for collecting, producing, and distributing information.
  • Ensure clear understanding of expectations and timely communication within and across Incident Command System (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
  • Communicate effectively using multichannel radios. Prepare and program radios for assignment. Use plain language and ICS terminology.
  • 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
  • Plan for medical emergencies. Ensure familiarity with the Medical Plan (ICS 206 WF), medical responders, communication procedures, and transportation plan. Manage the medical emergency based on procedures stated in the Incident Action Plan (IAP), Medical Incident Report, or other relevant guidelines.
  • Monitor for signs and symptoms of fatigue, illness, or injury. Mitigate appropriately.
  • Submit accident/incident reports with pertinent forms (SAFECOM, SAFENET, agency-specific forms) through established chain of command.


  • Complete, authorize, ensure timeliness of, and route as required:
  • Document evidence and photographs relating to identified fire cause.
  • Document and describe services required for investigation.
  • Document and display elements of the crime of wildland fire arson for your jurisdiction.
  • Document and present common ignition sources, evidence, and indicators routinely encountered at the scene of an arson fire.
  • Document wildland fire burn pattern indicators and wildland fire spread.


  • Return equipment and supplies to appropriate unit.
  • 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.


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