National Wildfire Coordinating Group

Radio Operator

RADO decorative banner: photos depicting RADO position. RADO Position Description: The Radio Operator (RADO) works in the Communications Unit, under the Logistics Section. The immediate supervisor for the Radio Operator is the Incident Communications Center Manager who manages the Incident Communications Center (ICC). In the absence of an Incident Communications Center Manager, the Communications Unit Leader will supervise the Radio Operator position. The Communications Technician also works in the Communications Unit. Often the Communications Technician requests assistance from the Radio Operator to help clone and check out radios.

RADO Homepage Button Position Incident Position Description Button Position Reference Materials Button Position Qualification Requirements Button

RADO Radio Operator Incident Position Description

The Radio Operator (RADO) is responsible for receiving and transmitting radio and telephone messages between incident personnel, providing dispatch services at the incident, and documenting pertinent radio/phone traffic for the incident. The RADO reports to the Incident Communications Center Manager (INCM) or the Communications Unit Leader (COML) and works in the Logistics functional area.
Click here to comment on this IPD

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 the assignment.
  • Check in with the incident supervisor and/or dispatch when arriving at the incident.
  • Review Incident Action Plan (IAP) and obtain briefing, objectives, and intent from supervisor.
  • Obtain briefing from the previous shift/assignment position, as necessary.

Build the Team

  • Establish and communicate the chain of command, reporting procedures, risk management processes, and radio frequency management. 
  • Establish a common operating picture with supervisors and assigned resources.
  • Participate in operational briefings as directed.

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 assigned resources and supervisor.
  • Ensure incident objectives and performance standards are met.

Perform Radio Operator-Specific Duties

  • Coordinate obtaining work materials and equipment.
  • Demonstrate competency with communications equipment, procedures, and basic functions/capabilities.
  • Participate in daily Communications Unit briefings and meetings.
  • Provide information on communication issues.
  • Use correct radio/telephone protocols to communicate information effectively to incident personnel.
  • Speak clearly and write legibly when speaking on the radio/telephone and documenting radio/telephone communications.
  • Use standard terminology, symbols, designators, and acronyms.
  • Use appropriate communication protocol when responding to an incident emergency utilizing the Medical Plan (ICS 206 WF).
  • Use appropriate communication protocol when receiving and processing supply orders.
  • Effectively transfer information verbally or in writing.

Communicate and Coordinate

  • Follow established processes and the chain of command for collecting, producing, and distributing information. 
  • Ensure a clear understanding of expectations and timely communication within and across 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

  • Execute incident emergency plan for radio traffic at the direction of assigned supervisor.
  • 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
  • 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 the transportation plan. Manage the medical emergency based on procedures stated in the IAP, 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.



  • Plan for demobilization. Ensure incident and agency demobilization procedures are followed.
  • Return equipment and supplies to appropriate units. 
  • Complete demobilization checkout process before being released from the incident.
  • Upon demobilization, report status to the home unit including reassignment or estimated time of arrival (ETA) to the home unit.


Return to the top


Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 

Please Provide Feedback

NWCG values your constructive input and we thank you for taking the time to provide feedback.

Although contact information is optional, we hope that you provide a way for us to contact you in case we need clarification on your comment. If you would like to be contacted regarding your feedback, you must provide contact information. 

Due to recent hacking behavior, we are temporarily suspending our ability to upload documents.  If you need to attach additional information, please email the file to

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.