National Wildfire Coordinating Group

Operations Section Chief Type 1

OSC1 decorative banner: photos depicting OSC1 position. OSC1 Position Description: The Operations Section Chief (OSC1), a member of the General Staff, is responsible for managing all operations directly applicable to the primary mission.

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OSC1 Incident Position Description

The Operations Section Chief Type 1 (OSC1) manages incident operations through the operations section, establishing and directing branches, divisions, groups, and units as necessary to support operations. The OSC1 leads the development and execution of the tactical assignments documented in the Incident Action Plan (IAP). The OSC1 reports to the Incident Commander (IC) and works in the Operations functional area.

The OSC1 performs position duties commensurate with Type 1 incident complexity and characteristics stated in the Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations (Red Book). (OSC2 and OSC1 duties are identical but are performed at different complexity levels.)
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Leadership Level 5, Leader of Organizations (Create Vision)

  • For additional information review Level 5 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.
  • Confirm mobilization status of operational team members and or assigned resources.
  • Review current IAP, if applicable, and obtain incident status from 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 Command & General Staff (C&G), IC, and assigned personnel.
  • Facilitate operational briefings.
  • Establish organization structure, reporting procedures, and chain of command of assigned resources.

Supervise and Direct Work Assignments

  • 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 Command and General (C&G) Staff Responsibilities

  • Interact, coordinate, and establish cohesiveness with all C&G personnel.
  • Share pertinent operations information that may affect the team’s management of the incident.
  • Prepare for and participate in preplanning/strategy meetings.
  • Participate in Incident Management Team (IMT) in-brief and closeout.

Perform Operations Section Chief Type 1-Specific Responsibilities

  • Plan and activate section:
    • Identify division/group boundaries.
    • Order resources required for section operation.
    • Establish an operational period.
    • Establish protocol for providing Operations section daily incident accomplishments to the Situation Unit.
    • Establish a daily briefing/debriefing schedule with Branch Directors and Division/Group Supervisors.
    • Establish a process for resource requests/releases for operational planning purposes.
    • Establish branches, divisions/groups, and/or staging areas as appropriate.
  • Attend agency briefings and debriefings.
  • Participate in operational period briefing.
  • Provide daily briefings to section personnel.
  • Ensure host unit direction and policies are applied.
  • Manage operational periods to achieve objectives.
  • Identify the kind, type, and the number of resources required to achieve control objectives.
  • Periodically evaluate resource status and tactical needs to determine if resource assignments are appropriate.
  • Evaluate structure protection and urban interface needs.
  • Evaluate the current situation and determine if the present plan of action will meet incident objectives. Advise IC and other appropriate IMT personnel.
  • Makes expedient changes to current operations based on the complexity or magnitude of the incident and reports those changes to the IC.
  • 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 an appropriate span of control.
  • 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.
  • Obtain regular updates from assigned resources.
  • Communicate Fire Weather Watches/Warnings, Spot Weather Forecasts, and Fire Weather Forecasts to assigned resources.
  • Monitor and address air quality impacts on personnel and the public. Consider the potential for smoke impacts to roads, communities, and incident facilities.
  • Inform IC 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 the Finance/Administration section to identify and request agreements as necessary.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of IAP or relevant plan and adjust as necessary.
  • Evaluate the 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 with to protect natural, cultural, social, and other resources. Notify IC when such resources are discovered and document suppression impacts.
  • Coordinate with assigned resources and provide Planning Section Chief a list of excess personnel and other resources.
  • Coordinate wildland urban interface (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.

Planning Duties

  • Provide incident narrative to Planning Section Chief.
  • Participate in the preparation of the IAP or other relevant plans.
    • Prepare or review special instruction portions of the IAP.
    • Complete operational portion of IAP as part of Operational Planning Worksheet (ICS 215).
    • Participate in the preparation of other necessary relevant plans.
  • Coordinate with Situation Unit to approve updates to control line status.

Communicate and Coordinate

  • Ensure priorities and tactics, including any changes, are communicated and understood throughout the Operations Section.
  • Follow established processes and chain of command for collecting, producing, and distributing information. 
  • Ensure a 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 Operations Section.
  • 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 Lookouts, Communications, Escape Routes, and Safety Zones (LCES) are established and known to all firefighters before they are needed. Refer to the guidelines stated in IRPG
  • Use Look Up, Down and Around in the IRPG to maintain situational awareness. Adjust actions accordingly. Develop and communicate contingency plans and trigger points.
  • Coordinate with Safety Officers to assist with the risk management process and provide input into the safety of operations.
  • Ensure the assigned resources follow safety guidelines appropriately.
  • Develop Incident Action Plan Safety Analysis (ICS 215A) with Safety Officer.
  • Plan for medical emergencies. Ensure 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 the established chain of command. 



  • Assist in the development and implementation of the Incident Demobilization Plan, and coordinate with Demobilization Unit/Planning Section Chief.
  • Assemble and submit relevant operations documents for the final incident package.
  • Prepare the operations portion of the transition plan.
  • Plan for demobilization. Brief the assigned resources on demobilization procedures and responsibilities. Ensure incident and agency demobilization procedures are followed.
  • Participate in agency administrator closeout/After Action Review (AAR).
  • During the transfer of command:
    • Ensure continuity of operations.
    • Exchange critical safety information.
    • Communicate transfer of authority through an established chain of command.


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