Incident Position Description Development

Wildland fire personnel throughout the nation mobilize by NWCG position under NIMS-ICS principles. This enables consistent and uniform position performance in support of nationally interoperable wildland fire operations. Recent NWCG system improvements efforts have included improving the connection between standards, positions, and training. Establishing NWCG Incident Position Descriptions (IPDs) is a foundational part of this effort. IPDs will strengthen that connection and improve our ability to successfully teach, train, and operate to established standards.

No one is closer to the 120 NWCG positions than the Subject Matter Experts on the NWCG committees. Committee support is critical to this effort. IPD development (and other improvements such as web-based publications and a single web-based application for all NWCG training) will enable the committees to manage operations standards, positions, and training in a more dynamic and responsive manner.

Incident Position Descriptions:

  • Provide the single authoritative source for the essential duties and responsibilities for each NWCG position.
  • Ensure connection between the position and established operational standards.
  • Build consistency (organization, nomenclature, terminology) internal to each position and across the inventory of positions.
  • Prevent unnecessary duplication of duties across positions.
  • Help identify performance support needs such as job aids, training courses, and position task books.

Incident Position Descriptions are part of this cycle:

IPD Workflow

How to Create an Incident Position Description:

  1. Use the IPD Template (docx), the List of Standard IPD Statements (docx), and established Incident Position Descriptions to guide you.
  2. Collect duty and responsibility statements from existing standards documents, course materials, position task books, and subject matter expert experience.
    • Transfer these statements into the relevant category in the IPD template.
    • List the source next to the statement. This creates an inventory that connects the position duties to the operations standards. This will not appear in the final IPD.
  3. Compare the draft IPD to the List of Standard IPD Statements. Can you use a standard statement to promote consistency across the inventory of all NWCG positions?
  4. Check for redundancy throughout statements.
  5. Once several IPDs are created across your functional area, compare the IPDs. Are similar statements worded identically, or do they diverge? Can they be worded similarly?

Helpful Hints:

  • Build the IPD from an incident standpoint – from initial dispatch to demobilization and everything in-between. The categories on the IPD template are structured this way.
  • Use action-oriented statements. These statements provide direction and begin with action-oriented verbs. Avoid vague verbs such as “be familiar with,” “knowledge of,” or “understand.”
  • Get assistance from a laterally qualified (not qualified higher than the position) individual. This will ensure duties and responsibilities remain at the appropriate level.


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