Master Projects

Incident Action Plan (IAP) Map | Multipage (Tiled) Maps | Briefing Area Map (BAM) | Aviation Maps | Progression Map

Each product produced on an incident will have a Master Project in the \projects folder.

The Master Project is the working version of each product. Daily edits are made to it, with the backup process preserving the changes over time.

An APRX file will store all sizes, versions, and areas of a single map. For example, the Operations Master Project could store the layouts for a landscape-orientation E size, a portrait C size, and all the division detail maps in a single APRX.

Utilizing a single map and different layouts for multiple products greatly improves efficiency and consistency in updates.

All new projects should be created from the Pro Project Template or an existing project (which was created from the Pro Project Template) to avoid creating extraneous folders, geodatabases, and toolboxes. This also streamlines folder and database connections, as well as linked items such as dynamic text.

When creating a new project, it is often easiest to start with an existing one, if available. Many incident maps contain the same elements with a slightly different emphasis for the intended audience.

The Pro Project Template includes preconfigured layouts for the most common page sizes with all the text dynamically tied to the provided Map View and the DynamicTextUpdate table in the other_incident_data GDB. Instructions for updating the dynamic text are found in each layout.

  1. In the projects folder, open the 2021_ProProjectTemplate APRX file.
  2. Use Save As to save the template as a new project in the projects folder, naming it {mapType}_{year}_{incidentName}_{localIncidentID}.aprx.
  3. Open the existing Map View {MapType}_2021_{IncidentName} and rename it with the map type and the incident name. This project will be used to create all the maps for this type, regardless of the printed size.
  4. Repair the data source for the existing layers (or add a new lyrx file and repair) to the Master Incident GDB.
  5. Open or create a Layout in the appropriate size and customize it to the product type.

Some projects require specific steps or information. Workflows and documentation for common projects are found below.

The IAP map is the primary map for the majority of incident personnel. It will be distributed with the rest of the daily IAP.

Key Components

  • Mapped area should cover the incident area and predicted spread.
  • Must be clearly understood in black and white. It will likely be photocopied.
  • Most commonly printed as Letter (8x11) or Tabloid (11x17) size.
  • Generally, 1:24k scale.
  • Wildfire Daily Fire Perimeter polygon outline should be removed when visible under Event Line features (e.g., dozer line).

For the complete list of product standards and map examples, refer to the NWCG Standards for Geospatial Operations (GeoOps), PMS 936.

    Multipage or tiled maps are a series of tiled, overlapping map sheets that are used when the incident area expands or is projected to expand larger than will fit on a single 1:24,000 map sheet. Each map sheet should contain the required elements of the map and be able to be used individually and with adjoining map sheets.  An index map sheet may be added if a vicinity map is not placed on the individual map sheets and map sheets should be numbered sequentially. The map sheets should be created for the entire incident area.

    Key Components

    • Multiple map sheets called pages, tiles, or grids.
    • One index map sheet if the vicinity map is not used.
    • STANDL-SGD elements on each map sheet.
    • Sequential ID on each map sheet.
    • Lat/Long graticule on each map sheet.
    • Complete coverage of an incident area.
    • Fit entire division(s) on map sheet where practical–don't force field users to reference multiple maps.
    • Add more labels when divisions span multiple map sheets–see annotation definition query How To below.
    • Maps will be copied in black and white–don't rely on color.
    • Map sheets must overlap.
    • Index map is for reference only – keep it simple.
    • Wildfire Daily Fire Perimeter polygon outline should be removed when visible under Event Line features (e.g., dozer line).

    For the complete list of product standards and map examples, refer to the NWCG Standards for Geospatial Operations (GeoOps), PMS 936.

    Job Aids

    Multipage Map Workflow

    The key to creating multipage maps is setting them up early and allowing for growth. This starts with the Grid Index and includes proper annotation and page queries.

    As soon as more than a single page is needed, jump straight into using an index grid, annotation, and page queries. Even if it feels like overkill at first, trying to fake it with dynamic labels or multiple maps will only cause headaches and mistakes down the line.

    Create the Layout

    Page size will be dictated by the intended use. Multipage IAPs will be letter or tabloid size because they are printed in large quantities and distributed with the rest of the IAP.

    However, other maps can also be designed as multipage for ease of production. Division breakouts, for example, will usually be C or D sized to cover an entire division in detail and are often requested by Operations for use by leadership in the field.

    Once the page size is set, setting up the layout is the first critical step. Because each page will be automatically generated based on the Grid Index and will have different features, best practice is to use an offset data frame layout (where the data frame is smaller than the page and the other elements are placed in the white space either to the side or above/below). This prevents any layout elements from obscuring data when all the different pages are created.

    Example of an offset data frame layout showing data frame is smaller than the page and the other elements such as title, scale bar, author, north arrow, and legend are placed in the white space below.

    Adding all map elements (STANDL-SGD) at the beginning is important because the data frame size should not be changed after the Grid Index is created. Any time the data frame size or scale is modified in the layout, the Grid Index should be recreated (so it is best not to change it).

    Be sure to leave sufficient space to account for anything dynamic like the legend (which will change based on which area of the incident is displayed on each page).

    Create the Grid Index

    Stay on the Layout View and open the Grid Index Features tool.

    Geoprocessing pane and Grid Index Features tool open. Parameters populated with Output Feature Class and Input Features. Generate Polygon and Use Page Unit and Scale boxes checked.

    1. Set it to cover Event Point and Event Polygon. Usually this is sufficient, but if there are line features that need to be included that extent beyond these, add Event Line. It is easy to delete extra grid features that are not needed.
    2. Check the boxes for Generating a Grid that intersects the input dataset and Using the Page Unit and Scale.
    3. Set the map scale to 24,000 (or whatever scale being used, but 24k is the standard). If the map is already set to 24k, this will populate automatically.
    4. By checking the Use Page Unit and Scale box, the Polygon width, and height will automatically calculate based on the data frame dimensions in the layout. This is why setting up the layout first is critical. Do not change this setting.
    5. The number of Rows and Columns may seem odd, ignore it for now. Do not change this setting. If too many index features are created, double-check the other settings.

    Map showing Grid Index with green polygon fill.

    Place the Grid Index

    Delete any unnecessary grid features that were created. If unsure, all, or some can also be moved off to the side while the rest are positioned.

    Map showing all incident features and grid index with no fill. Grids (unwanted) along edge of incident area of interest selected for deletion.

    Position the grid features so that the entire incident is covered with a little overlap on each edge.

    Map showing all incident features and grid index polygons moved to create overlap.

    Update the grid feature attributes so that the Page Name and Number are consistent and understandable. These fields will be used to dynamically subtitle each page in the final product. The name can be either the page number as well or something logical like the divisions covered by the feature (just be sure that is updated as divisions change or pages move).

    A common numbering standard is clockwise from the Fire Origin, but most important is that it is clear and labeled on the products Index Page.

    Grid index polygons labeled with Page numbers.

    Create the Annotation

    If an annotation layer at the appropriate scale has not already been created, follow the documentation on the Labeling and Annotation Page to create it.

    Add a new field to the annotation layer to use for the Page Queries. This field will set which page the annotation will display on. Name it PageName and use Text as the type.

    Event Point Annotation feature table with Add Field highlighted.

    Work through the map, page by page, making sure that every Division and Branch visible on the page is labeled. This will entail creating some extra annotation features for most pages. Managing these additional features comes down to personal preference, but it is often easiest to keep things consistent by creating the necessary break labels for each page and attributing them with the proper page number. Even though labels can sometimes be placed in the overlapping areas of adjacent pages, this can lead to oversights when pages or breaks inevitably change.

    Map showing labeled incident features and grid index polygons.

    It is critical that each annotation feature be attributed correctly for the Page Query to work. The PageName field in the annotation layer must match the corresponding PageName field in the Grid Index layer.

    Annotation table with Annotation Class ID selected and Page Name highlighted.

    NOTE:  In the workflow outlined here, it is only necessary to set the page name for Division and Branch labels as they are typically the only feature that span multiple pages. Other feature labels will bypass the Page Query as shown in a later step.

    Enable and Configure the Map Series

    Return to the Layout View and select the Spatial option under Map Series on the Layout ribbon.

    Layout ribbon. Map Series selected and Spatial highlighted.

    Layout Properties window open. with Map Series selected. Map frame elements, Page Number and Center and Maintain Scale populate and highlighted.

    1. Set the Index Layer to the Grid Index.
    2. Set the Page Name and Number fields.
    3. Set the Map Extent to to Center and Maintain Scale and make sure the scale is set to 24k (or whatever scale the Grid Index was created at if using a different scale).

    This will enable each page’s view on the Map Series tab of the Table of Content.

    Map Series tab on Table of Contents showing Layout pages.

    Set the Page Query

    Open the annotation layer properties from the Map View and set the Page Query to Match on PageName.

    Layer Properties window. Page Query selected and PageName and Match selected and highlighted.

    NOTE: This will affect which features display in both the Layout and Map View. The query will be applied based on which page is selected in the layout but will also affect which features display when switched back to the Map View.

    Table of contents showing feature display for layout and map views. Branch, Segment, Zone and Division are highlighted. PAGE QUERY is highlighted.

    At this point, only the Division, and Branch labels for the active page should be visible.

    To display the rest of the labels without worrying about their page, add a second copy of the annotation layer to the Map View and turn off the Division and Branch classes.

    To help differentiate between the two layers, add an identifier to the name of the layer with the Page Query.

    Final Layout and Review

    Add the Page Name as Dynamic Text to the Layout Title Block. This will update automatically for each page generated.

    Layout ribbon. Dynamic Text selected and Map Series Page Name highlighted.

    Turn off the index grid before exporting the Map Series. The grid should not be displayed on any of the individual pages, only on the Index Page.

    Turn off, or set to highly transparent, the Fire Polygon. Event Polygon should not obscure the base topography or any other information.

    Map showing all incident features and grid index polygons. Crossed out to indicate fire polygon should be turned off or set to highly transparent.

    Walk through each page from the Layout View to double-check that no labels are missing and all the other standard elements are correct.

    Export the Map Series

    From the Share tab on the Ribbon, export the Layout.

    Share ribbon. Layout selected and highlighted.

    The Export Option will allow the export of all, one, or some of the pages and whether they will be saved as a single PDF or individual pages.

    Export Options window. Map Series tabe with All selected and Single PDF File selected.

    Always use the GeoOps standard naming convention.


    Eg.   iap_11x17_port_MPall_20200617_2120_ProDemoFire_ABC123_0618Day.pdf

    Create the Index Page

    Because the page queries affect the layer in the Map View and other layouts as well, it is usually easier to manage a separate Map View for the Index Page or possibly even a new Project. With multiple Map and Layout Views in a single project, the chance for accidental crossover increases greatly, especially when copy/pasting.

    The Index Page is for reference only and should be kept simple. The intent is for easy identification of which detail page is needed.

    The index grid is the primary feature. It should be visible and labeled.

    Division and Branch Breaks should be shown and labeled so field personnel can quickly find the detail pages for their assignment area.

    If other point features are shown, they must be labeled.

    Map showing Index Page layout.


    The key to a good briefing map is printing it large enough for the briefing area so everyone attending can see. This often entails "poster printing" and then taping together multiple sheets from the plotter. Some teams use projectors to display the briefing map, this can be an effective option when the situation allows for it as map size can be easily tailored to fit the space.

    To aid in clarity at a distance, certain symbols should be enlarged to what may seem like comical proportions.

    A "BAM Large Symbols" layer file is provided in the GeoOps Directory Structure and provides a good starting point.

    Key Components

    • Printed large enough to be visible and readable for everyone at the briefing.
    • Enlarged symbols for legibility.
    • Reduced clutter to enable clear communication.
    • Often poster printed and assembled with tape.
    • Wildfire Daily Fire Perimeter polygon outline should be removed when visible under Event Line features (e.g., dozer line).

    For the complete list of product standards and map examples, refer to the NWCG Standards for Geospatial Operations (GeoOps), PMS 936.

    Job Aids

    Creating a BAM Project

    The Briefing Area Map (BAM) is for displaying incident information during briefings. While it can be plotted on a standard Arch E size, it is usually plotted on several sheets of paper (tiled) and taped together to create the larger size.

    1. Start with an existing map project (e.g. IAP) and do a ‘Save As’ to save your project using the standard GeoOps naming convention.
      Save Project As window open showing new APRX, named for correctly for Briefing Map (BAM).
    2. If your existing map (e.g. IAP) had the standard ‘Event Group – All Layers’, turn off the group layer but don’t remove it yet, as you will need to copy/paste the Label Point to the BAM Group Layer.
    3. Then add the ‘Event Group – BAM Large Symbols 2021’ from the tools\Event_Layer_Files folder in the Current_GeoOps_Folder_Structure:
      Catalog window showing Event Group BAM Large Symbols 2021.lyrx file selected from Event Layer Files folder in the tools folder.
    4.  Repath the source of both the Event Point and Event Line to your Master Geodatabase.
      Layer Properties: Event Point window. Source selected and Set Data Source highlighted.
    5. Copy/paste the Label Point layer to the BAM group layer, rename, and resize labels. Suggested font sizes are 60 pt for the Division Label Class, and 72 pt for Branches/Zones.
      Table of contents showing Event Group - All Layers Label Point. Copied and Pasted to Event Group - BAM Large Symbols Label Point BAM.
    6.  Open an existing Arch E size layout (either landscape or portrait depending on your fire) and add your Map Frame to the layout.
      Catalog pane showing Layouts with Layout_36x48(ArchE)_Land and Layout_36x48(ArchE)_Port highlighted.
    7. Adjust your feature weights/sizes for the large map size. You may need to remove map elements (e.g. Contours) for the ICS features to be seen from a distance. Refer to GeoOps guidance and direction from your SITL about what information to include.
      Project ribbon. Label Class Division highlighted.
      NOTE: The exact width of line features, size of point features, and font size for labels is subject to trial and error. You may need to adjust these values significantly depending on the size of the BAM. Once these values have been determined, however, these values shouldn’t need to be edited.
    8. Export your map as a PDF using standard GeoOps file naming.

    Plotting the BAM

    Since there are numerous options for plotting different size BAMs, there are multiple combinations of sizes and settings.  This document provides some general settings and an example, but you may need to adjust based on your desired BAM size. For this example we’ll create a 72” x 80” BAM on two sheets of paper (assuming the plotter paper width is 36” wide).

    1. In Adobe Acrobat select your plotter from the drop-down menu and open the Properties dialogue window.
      Print dialogue window showing selected printer and arrow pointing to Properties button.
    2. Select the Paper/Quality tab and then select Custom to create the custom page size of 36” x 80”.
      Document Properties widow. Paper/Quality tab with arrow pointing to Document size, Custom.  Custom Paper Size window showing Name Custom BAM, Width 36 inches and Length 80 inches.
    3. Name your custom document size (e.g., Custom BAM) and save it. Use the drop-down to select your custom document size. You may need to select “More…” and scroll to the bottom of the list.
    4. On the main print dialogue box, under the Page Sizing & Handling select Poster and set the scaling at 166% and the Overlap to 1 in.
      Print window showing Page Sizing & Handling set to Poster, Tile Scall 166 and Overlap 1.
    5. You may need to adjust your Orientation settings to switch between Landscape/Portrait.
    6. Print and tape together the two pages.

    42-Inch Plotters Information

    • To print an Arch E (36” x 48”) on a 42” plotter, create a custom page size of 42” x 56” and select “Fit to Print”.
    • To Print a BAM on a 42” plotter, create a custom page size of 41” x 112” and print as a poster at around 228% scaling.
    • There are numerous size options for creating BAMs, so adjust these settings as needed.

    There are two standard aviation maps, the Air Ops Map used by Air Operations personnel and the Pilot Map used by the pilots.

    Key Components

    • A table that includes the Lat/Long coordinates for point features.
    • Pilot map is typically small for easy lap reading in the aircraft.
    • Minimal clutter but enough detail so that incident features can be located.
    •  Wildfire Daily Fire Perimeter polygon outline should be removed when visible under Event Line features (e.g., dozer line).

    For the complete list of product standards and map examples, refer to the NWCG Standards for Geospatial Operations (GeoOps), PMS 936.

    Job Aids

    The Progression Map displays the burn areas of the fire broken out by day (or as frequently as perimeter updates are available).

    The most important step to creating a Progression Map comes long before actually opening a progression project. Exporting an updated perimeter each day to the Progression GDB will save time and effort when it comes time to finally create the map product.

    Key Components

    • Colors should run cool to warm, with warm being the most recent perimeter.
    • If more than 5 days are shown, predefined color ramps are generally more effective than discreet values.
    • Fire Origin is generally the only ICS feature included.
    • Elevation data such as DEM or Hillshade can be used "beneath" the progression for a nice visual effect.
    • A table of daily and running total acreages can be included.

    For the complete list of product standards and map examples, refer to the NWCG Standards for Geospatial Operations (GeoOps), PMS 936.

    Job Aids



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