Operations Branch Director

OPBD decorative banner: photos depicting OPBD position. OPBD Position Description: The Operations Branch Director (OPBD), when present, is responsible for implementing the portion of the IAP applicable to the assigned Branch.

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OPBD Incident Position Description

The Operations Branch Director (OPBD) is responsible for implementing the portion of the Incident Action Plan (IAP) applicable to the assigned Branch. The OPBD reports to the Operations Section Chief (OSC) and works in the Operations functional area.
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Prepare and Mobilize

  • Ensure individual readiness.
  • Gather critical information pertinent to the assignment.
  • Travel to and check in at assignment.
  • Confirm mobilization status of operational team members and or assigned resources.
  • Review current IAP, if applicable, and obtain incident status from OSC, Incident Commander (IC), or ordering unit
  • Obtain incident update from current OSC regarding status of incident situation or branch operations before arrival.

Build The Team

  • Assemble appropriate operational team members and receive a team in-brief of the current incident status. 
  • Coordinate an efficient transfer of position duties. 
  • Facilitate and coordinate the ordering of operational resources. 
  • Establish a common operating picture with OSC and assigned personnel. 
  • Facilitate operational briefings. 
  • Distribute IAPs and other relevant plans, maps, and local area information.
  • Establish organization structure, reporting procedures, and chain of command of assigned resources.

Lead, Supervise, Direct

  • Model leadership values and principles. Provide positive influence. Emphasize teamwork.
  • Establish and communicate objectives, priorities, work assignments, and performance expectations.
  • Identify, analyze, and use relevant situational information to make more 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 IAP objectives and performance standards are met.
  • Monitor performance and provide immediate and regular feedback to assigned personnel.

Perform Operations Branch Director-Specific Duties

  • Plan and activate branch:
    • Identify division/group boundaries.
    • Order resources required for branch operation.
    • Establish operational period.
    • Establish daily briefing/debriefing schedule.
    • Establish process for resource requests/releases for operational planning purposes.
    • Establish divisions/groups and/or staging areas as appropriate.
  • Participate in operational period briefing.
  • Provide daily briefings to branch personnel.
  • Ensure host unit direction and policies are applied.
  • Manage operational periods to achieve objectives.
  • Identify kind, type, and number of resources required to achieve control objectives.
  • Ensure assigned resources have all necessary equipment and supplies to meet tactical objectives. Estimate immediate and long-range operational resources and logistical requirements. Think strategically.
  • Periodically evaluate resource status and tactical needs to determine if resource assignments are appropriate.
  • Evaluate structure protection and wildland urban interface (WUI) needs.
  • Evaluate current situation and determine if present plan of action will meet incident objectives and advise OSC.
  • Make expedient changes to current operations based on the complexity or magnitude of the incident and report those changes to the OSC.
  • Personally observe and review current operations to prepare tactics for the next operational period planning meeting.
  • Use fire behavior prediction information to plan/organize tactical operations.
  • Evaluate pertinent parts of delegation and Wildland Fire Decision Support System (WFDSS) decisions as directed by the IC.
  • Establish and maintain appropriate span of control.
  • Obtain regular updates from assigned resources.
  • Ensure assigned Division/Group Supervisors (DIVS) receive Fire Weather Watches/Warnings, Spot Weather Forecasts, and Fire Weather Forecasts.
  • Monitor and address air quality impacts to personnel and the public.  Consider potential for smoke impacts to roads, communities, and incident facilities.
  • Inform OSC regularly or as needed:
    • Status updates.
    • Evolving conditions or hazards that may require action.
    • Problems or unresolved issues.
    • Accomplishments.
  • Ensure assigned contracted resources meet contract specifications.
  • Coordinate with Finance/Administration section to identify and request agreements as necessary.
  • Evaluate effectiveness of IAP or relevant plan and adjust as necessary.
  • Evaluate progress of operations based on situation reports and evaluations from operations personnel.
  • Evaluate burning/ignition operations.
  • Establish air support protocols and communications. Coordinate and prioritize activities with aviation operations.
  • Report special occurrences (e.g., structure/improved property loss or damage, accidents, incident within an incident, political contacts) to supervisor.
  • Work with responsible land management agency and/or assigned Resource Advisor (READ) to protect natural, cultural, social, and other resources. Notify OSC when such resources are discovered and document suppression impacts.
  • Coordinate with assigned resource and provide OSC a list of excess personnel and other resources.
  • Coordinate WUI operations with local law enforcement, local fire departments, and other agencies authorized to implement public evacuation, perform structure protection, control traffic, and road closures.

Communicate and Coordinate

  • Ensure priorities and tactics, including any changes, are communicated, and understood throughout the Branch.
  • 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.

Manage Risk

  • Ensure the Risk Management Process is established and maintained throughout the Branch.
  • Apply the Risk Management Process as stated in the Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG), PMS 461:
    • Identify Hazards
    • Assess Hazards
    • Develop Controls and Make Risk Decisions
    • Implement Controls
    • Supervise and Evaluate
  • Ensure Lookouts, Communications, Escape Routes, and Safety Zones (LCES) are established and known to all firefighters before they are needed. Refer to guidelines stated in IRPG.
  • Use Look Up, Down and Around in IRPG to help maintain situational awareness. Adjust actions accordingly. Develop and communicate contingency plans and trigger points.
  • Coordinate with Safety Officers (SOF) to assist with the risk management process and provide input into the safety of operations.
  • Ensure assigned resources are following safety guidelines appropriately.
  • 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, the Medical Incident Report, or other relevant guidelines.
  • Monitor for signs and symptoms of fatigue, illness, or injury. Mitigate appropriately.
  • Account for location, health, safety, and welfare of assigned personnel.
  • Submit accident/incident reports with pertinent forms (SAFECOM, SAFENET, agency-specific forms) through established chain of command.



  • Assist in the development and implementation of the incident demobilization plan and coordinate with Demobilization Unit Leader (DMOB) or Planning Section Chief (PSC).
  • Assemble and submit relevant operations documents for final incident package.
  • Plan for demobilization. Brief assigned resources on demobilization procedures and responsibilities. Ensure incident and agency demobilization procedures are followed.
  • 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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