National Wildfire Coordinating Group

Infrared Interpreter

IRIN decorative banner: photos depicting IRIN position.  IRIN Position Description: The Infrared Interpreter (IRIN) directs infrared mapping operations when assigned.

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IRIN Incident Position Description

An Infrared Interpreter (IRIN) is responsible for interpreting infrared (IR) imagery from National Infrared Operations (NIROPS) sensors to determine the heat perimeter of fires. They produce GIS-ready files, GIS layers, geo-referenced PDF maps, KMZs, and logs. The IRIN works remotely and often independently but reports to the Situation Unit Leader (SITL). If no SITL is assigned, the IRIN reports to the Plans Section Chief (PSC) for a Type 1, 2, or 3 fire. For a Type 4 fire, the IRIN reports to the Fire Management Officer (FMO) or Assistant Fire Management Officer (AFMO). The IRIN works in the Planning 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 including computer, required software, and user accounts.
  • Gather critical information pertinent to the assignment.
  • Obtain initial briefing from SITL or supervisor, including priority areas, management action points, methods and timing of communications, products, and method of product delivery.
  • Obtain briefing from previous IRIN for incident(s), if possible.

Supervise and Direct Work Assignments

  • 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 flight crew and SITL/supervisor.
  • Ensure incident objectives and performance standards are met within needed timeframes.
  • Manage support to multiple incidents and prioritize accordingly.

Perform Infrared Interpreter-Specific Duties

  • Submit infrared requests to NIROPS per the direction of supervisor.
  • Confirm infrared scan request status and approximate time of scheduled flight and notify incident.
  • Identify and obtain scale-appropriate, background digital data from online or other data sources.
  • Access infrared imagery from current distribution site, secure website, or other.
  • Review infrared imagery for issues, including incomplete file transfer, ortho-rectification, false positives, coverage, and image quality. Report issues to flight crew.
  • Accurately interpret infrared imagery, determine acreage, and create all applicable infrared geospatial data layers.
  • Identify heat perimeter of fire(s), as well as areas of intense, scattered, and isolated heat.
  • Create digital infrared heat map within established guidelines and timeframe, using recommended IR map symbology, depicting all applicable IR geospatial data layers, and conforming to recommended map elements.
  • Deliver all products (GIS layers, geo-referenced PDF maps, KMZs, and logs) to incident via secure website, email, or other means.
  • Utilize recommended file structure and naming convention.
  • When supporting multiple incidents, prioritize work according to values at risk, incident type, fire activity, availability of infrared data, and requested delivery times, unless otherwise directed by National Infrared Coordinator (IRCN).

Communicate and Coordinate

  • Follow established processes and chain of command for downloading, producing, and distributing IR data and products.
  • Maintain direct communication with IRCN and/or flight crew.
  • Prepare for and give morning briefing to SITL or incident supervisor as required by the incident.
  • Advise incident on trade-offs and issues with NIROPS systems versus other infrared systems and products.
  • Advise IRCN of any issues that require follow up during the day.
  • Coordinate an efficient transfer of position duties when mobilizing, demobilizing, or re-assigning to another incident.
  • Conduct and/or participate in After Action Reviews (AAR) if requested.

Manage Risk

  • Monitor for signs and symptoms of fatigue, illness, or injury. Mitigate appropriately.
  • Ensure nighttime access to work location. Inform building manager of work hours. Maintain awareness entering and leaving work location after hours.
  • Ensure access to internet. Plan for alternative internet source in the event of an outage.
  • Change computer and application passwords in a timely manner to ensure completion before work shift and/or to ensure access to Helpdesk if needed.


  • Complete, authorize, ensure timeliness of, and route as required:
  • Upload interpreted infrared maps and digital geospatial data to relevant secure website or other accessible location.
  • Complete interpreter’s daily log for each night’s mission and submit to SITL. Include calculated acreage, imagery issues, and location of heat, especially in relation to management action points or other areas of concern.


  • Coordinate an efficient transfer of position duties.
  • Complete demobilization checkout process before being released from the incident.
  • Upon demobilization, report status to home unit or to local dispatch office.


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