National Wildfire Coordinating Group

Situation Unit Leader

SITL decorative banner: photos depicting SITL position. SITL Position Description: The Situation Unit Leader (SITL) is responsible for collecting and organizing incident status and information and evaluating, analyzing, and displaying that information for use by ICS personnel and agency Dispatchers.

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SITL Incident Position Description

The Situation Unit Leader (SITL) is responsible for overseeing map production, and for fire behavior, fire weather, and incident status inputs on wildland fire incidents. The SITL supervises any configuration of Fire Behavior Analyst (FBAN), Long Term Analyst (LTAN), Field Observer (FOBS), Infrared Interpreter (IRIN), and Geographic Information System Specialist (GISS). The SITL reports to a Planning Section Chief (PSC) and works in the Planning functional area.
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Leadership Level 3, Leader of People (Develop Intent)

  • For additional information review Level 3 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 previous shift/assignment position, as necessary.
  • Coordinate with PSC with resource needs for the assignment.

Build the Team

  • Establish and communicate chain of command, reporting procedures, risk management processes, and radio frequency management. 
  • Establish a common operating picture with supervisors and subordinates.
  • Participate in operational briefings as directed.
  • Arrange meetings within your section to gain feedback and improve capabilities.

Supervise and Direct Work Assignments

  • Adjust actions based on changing information and evolving situation awareness. Develop and implement contingency plans. Communicate changing conditions to assigned resources and supervisor.
  • Identify, analyze, and use relevant situational information to make informed decisions and take appropriate actions.
  • Provide for the safety and welfare of assigned personnel.
  • Establish and maintain positive interpersonal and interagency working relationships.

Perform Situation Unit Leader-Specific Duties

  • Use maps, Global Positioning System (GPS), and other tools and applications to gather information and complete assignments.
  • Complete and submit Incident Status Summary (ICS 209).
  • Obtain briefing from PSC.
  • Attend planning meetings.
  • Organize and supervise subordinates and work areas to meet the needs of the unit.
  • Obtain maps and gather operational information.
  • Establish operational procedures with personnel, technical specialists, and operational personnel.
  • Prepare and maintain incident maps and displays.
  • Work with the GISS for map production.
  • Print and deliver maps to meet the needs of the incident.
  • Prepare and maintain incident history on maps and narratives.
  • Integrate data from various sources into meaningful information required by operations personnel. Sources could include infrared data, aerial photographs, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), GIS, GPS, verbal reports from FOBS, etc.
  • Order infrared/UAS services using established procedures.
  • Manage infrared technological services and present data to the Operations section in a useable format.
  • Establish time frames and compile information for planning meetings and IAP.
  • Provide documentation of situation unit activities.
  • Review and approve subordinate time reports.
  • Provide input to the final narrative and transition plan.
  • Develop contingency plans for a power outage, equipment breakdown, and staffing shortage.
  • Coordinate with supply and or expanded dispatch on status of orders.
  • Report unexpected occurrences to PSC (such as injuries, illnesses, accidents, political contacts, and property loss or damage).

Communicate and Coordinate

  • 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.
  • 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

  • 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 guidelines stated in IRPG.
  • Use Look Up, Down and Around in the IRPG to help maintain situational awareness. Adjust actions accordingly. Develop and communicate contingency plans and trigger points.
  • Utilize Safety Officers (SOFs) to assist with the risk management process and provide input into the safety of operations.



  • Confirm demobilization instructions with the supervisor.
  • Plan for demobilization. Brief assigned resources on demobilization procedures and responsibilities. Ensure incident and agency demobilization procedures and work/rest driving standards are followed.
  • Return equipment and supplies to the appropriate unit. 
  • 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.




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