National Wildfire Coordinating Group

Master Projects

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 {Year}_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}_{Year}_{IncidentName} and rename it with the map type. This Master 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. Add base maps and ancillary datasets to the map.

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


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. Multipage map examples include IAP maps, division or branch tiles, and structure triage maps.  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


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 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.  Repair the paths for the BAM Large Symbols layers to the Master Geodatabase.
    Layer Properties: Event Point window.  Source selected and Set Data Source highlighted.
  5. If using Label Points, copy/paste the 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 even 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



Print This Page


Page Last Modified / Reviewed: