National Wildfire Coordinating Group

Safety Officer, Line

SOFR decorative banner: photos depicting SOFR position. SOFR Position Description: The Safety Officer (SOFR), a member of the Command Staff, is responsible for monitoring and assessing hazardous and unsafe situations and developing measures for assuring personnel safety. The Safety Officer will correct unsafe acts or conditions through the regular line of authority, although they (Safety Officer) may exercise emergency authority to stop or prevent unsafe acts when immediate action is required. Only one Safety Officer will be assigned for each incident. The Safety Officer may have assistant Safety Officers as necessary, and the assistant Safety Officer may represent assisting agencies or jurisdictions. Assistant Safety Officers may have specific responsibilities, such as air operations, hazardous materials, etc.(SOFR is not a prerequisite to NWCG SOF2.)

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Safety Officer, Line, SOFR

The Safety Officer, Line (SOFR) is responsible for monitoring the overall operation of an incident from a risk management perspective to provide for the welfare of assigned resources. SOFRs can be assigned to incidents of any complexity level. On Type 3, 4, or 5 incidents, they may be the lead safety officer, reporting to the Incident Commander (IC) and on Type 2 or 1 incidents, they may report to the lead safety officer – Safety Officer, Type 1 (SOF1) or Safety Officer, Type 2 (SOF2). SOFRs may supervise a Medical Unit Leader (MEDL) or other members in the safety organization. SOFRs work in the Command 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.
  • Obtain and assemble information and materials needed for kit.
  • Travel to and check in with incident supervisor at incident.
  • Review Incident Action Plan (IAP) and obtain briefings from incident supervisor, Operations, or outgoing safety officers, as necessary.

Build The Team

  • Interact with all incident personnel to develop and maintain positive interpersonal and interagency working relationships.
  • Establish respectful relationships with operational, logistical, and other resources assigned to the same work area.
  • Order additional safety officers and medical personnel, as necessary.

Lead, Supervise, Direct

  • Establish and communicate objectives, priorities, work assignments, and performance expectations.
  • Identify, analyze, and use relevant situational information to make risk informed decisions and take appropriate actions based on risk versus reward.
  • Adjust actions based on changing information and evolving situation awareness. Develop and implement contingency plans. Communicate changing conditions to assigned resources and supervisor.
  • Monitor performance and provide immediate and regular feedback to assigned personnel.
  • Model leadership values and principles. Provide positive influence. Emphasize teamwork.

Perform Safety Officer, Line-Specific Responsibilities

  • Perform SOFR duties commensurate with Type 3 incident complexity, as per the Interagency Standards for Fire and Aviation Operations (Red Book).
  • Monitor incident operations and advise the IC or lead safety officer on matters relating to the health and safety of incident resources.
  • Correct unsafe acts or conditions through the regular line of authority, although direct intervention will be used to immediately correct a dangerous situation.
  • Monitor fatigue throughout incident personnel and make recommendations on operational period lengths to ensure work/rest guidelines are followed.
  • Monitor food, potable water, security, supply, and sanitation service inspections.
  • Monitor driver or operator qualifications, especially with specialized equipment such as All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs), Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTVs), and forklifts.
  • Monitor air operations and coordinate with aviation staff to ensure aircraft use is essential and effective.
  • Monitor incident roads and driving conditions to provide for safe use by personnel.
  • Monitor health and wellness factors, including fatigue, smoke exposure, illness, injury, property damage trends, excess stress, etc., of incident personnel and ensure mitigations are in place.

Perform Command and General Staff (C&G) Responsibilities

  • Advise and assist C&G with risk management roles and responsibilities.
  • Establish a common operating picture around risk with incident leadership and resources.
  • Analyze proposed and selected strategic alternatives from a risk management perspective. Prepare the Safety Message/Plan (ICS 208) for the IAP.
  • Review the IAP for safety implications to ensure safety issues have been identified and mitigations put in place.
  • Coordinate with C&G to develop the IAP Safety Analysis (ICS 215A), risk assessment form, or equivalent used to communicate risk to response personnel.
  • Review, provide input to, and approve the Medical Plan (ICS 206).
  • Initiate and/or conduct accident investigations for injuries, vehicle and equipment damage, and near misses.
  • Establish Incident-within-Incident (IWI) standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the Incident Management Team (IMT).
  • Participate in planning process and advocate effective risk management to ensure hazards are identified and mitigated where possible, and that the remaining risk to be accepted is commensurate with the values at risk.
  • Post safety information around camp as appropriate.
  • Conduct periodic inspections of base camp facilities.

Perform Fireline Duties

  • Engage actively with field resources to understand the tactics being used and provide safety oversight for line overhead. This includes divisional breakout meetings and shift After Action Reviews (AARs). Provide safety input to briefings, as needed.
  • Establish systems to monitor fire activities for hazards and risks.
  • Perform site visits to areas that pose the highest risk to personnel.
  • Walk and/or drive the assigned areas.
  • Scout safety zones and escape routes, ensuring they are valid, and locations are known and marked.
  • Monitor and evaluate operations from an on-scene perspective. Give priority of effort to hazard mitigation and planning for medical emergencies.
  • Assist operations personnel in planning for and responding to medical emergencies.
  • Report regularly to the lead safety officer to ensure actions in the field are meeting the intentions of the IMT. Provide feedback on needed messaging, potential issues, and current situation status.
  • Serve on scene for IWIs, as necessary.

Communicate and Coordinate

  • Attend briefings as assigned by supervisor and/or appropriate for the assignment.
  • Prepare and present safety topics for briefings as appropriate for the assignment.
  • Use suitable communication techniques to share relevant information with appropriate personnel on a timely basis to accomplish objectives in a rapidly changing, high-risk environment.
  • Communicate with medical resources to determine injury and illness trends and make recommendations for mitigations.
  • Ensure a process is in place to communicate significant change in weather to incident personnel.
  • Participate in AARs.

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
  • Identify human factors that may increase risk to incident personnel and make suggestions to correct those factors.
  • Function as subject matter expert on the risk management process and be prepared to advise and assist leadership and incident personnel.

Document

  • Complete, authorize, ensure timeliness of, and route as required:
  • Document incidents of a serious nature, including but not limited to deficiencies in food and potable water supplies, vehicle and equipment accidents or significant damage, driver/operator qualifications, and air operations hazards/unsafe conditions.
  • Ensure appropriate accident, incident, and other safety reports (such as SAFECOMs and SAFENETs) are completed and submitted.
  • Prepare narrative or special reports as needed.

Demobilize

  • Review incident demobilization plan to ensure appropriate safety guidelines exist.
  • During transfer of command, ensure continuity of operations and exchange critical safety information.
  • Ensure incident and agency demobilization procedures and work/rest driving standards are followed.

 

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Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
2023-03-17

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