File Naming


This section describes standardized file naming for GIS data and related documents created and used on incidents managed under the Incident Command System. The guidelines presented here support consistent file naming that is clear and repeatable, that promotes efficient use of GIS data, and that ensures a smooth transition between GIS Specialists by making it easy to locate data or products. The naming conventions function as basic metadata about the file, when it was created, and for what incident.

The intention is to allow some scalability for variation of incident situation, such as in number of Geographic Information System Specialist (GISS)​ personnel, hardware use/availability, software used, and available data, while still meeting the business needs of those with whom the GISS cooperates, such as Long Term Fire Analysts (LTANs), Geographic Area Coordination Centers (GACCs), and users of the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) FTP site (


File names must be complete and stand on their own outside of the file structure; file names must be concise, use clear text, and avoid ambiguous terms. The general format for file naming is: {date and time}_{incident information}_{other information}; however, map projects (.mxd or .aprx) and exported products (.pdf) begin with map type, size, and orientation. Other requirements include:

  • File names are limited by the Windows operating system and cannot be longer than 255 characters. Note: Some software may not allow backup onto CD or DVD for long folder and file names (more than 128 characters for path name and file name).
  • File names must not contain spaces, special characters, or periods, aside from file extension delimiters.
  • The underscore “_” is the only allowable character for delimiting name elements.
  • Capital letters may be used to make names easier to understand.
    • First letter of proper names (e.g., Jones)
    • First letter to delimit multiple words (e.g., ClearCreek, IntenseHeat) (often called “CamelCase”)
    • All letters that stand for something (e.g., GPS)
  • The format for dates is eight digits in year, month, day order (yyyymmdd).
  • The format for time is four digits in a 24-hour format (hhmm).
  • Name feature classes within a geodatabase with a leading “i_” (before creation date), because feature classes cannot begin with a number.
  • Follow Unit ID requirements (i.e. CAKNF).
  • Follow Local Incident ID requirements (i.e. 000530). Maintain leading zeros if necessary.

Required File Name Elements

Master project files

{map type}_{page size}_{page orientation}_{year}_{incident name}_{Unit ID+ Local Incident ID}.aprx (or .mxd)
Optional: {tool or software version}
Ex: iap_11x17_land_2011_Playa_AZHVR503_ArcPro_2_4.aprx
Ex: brief_ansi_e_port_2011_Playa_AZHVR503.mxd

Project backup files

{map type}_{page size}_{page orientation}_{current date}_{time}_ {incident name}_{Unit ID+ Local Incident ID}.aprx (or .mxd)
Optional: {tool or software version}
Ex: iap_11x17_land_20110516_2120_Playa_AZHVR503_ArcPro_2_4.aprx
Ex: brief_ansi_e_port_20110515_1530_Playa_AZHVR503.mxd 

Master Incident Geodatabase

{year}_{incident name}_{Unit ID+ Local Incident ID}_{tool/GDB schema & version used to produce data}.gdb
Required: When using the Event schema, the schema is the "tool" and the software version should be listed.
Ex: 2011_Playa_AZHVR503_Event_ArcMap_10_7.gdb
Ex: 2011_Playa_AZHVR503_Event_ArcPro_2_4.gdb

Edit Incident Geodatabase

{year}_{incident name}_{Unit ID+ Local Incident ID}_{tool/GDB schema & version used to produce data}_EDIT.gdb
Required: When using the Event schema, the schema is the "tool" and the software version should be listed.
Ex: 2011_Playa_AZHVR503_Event_ArcMap_10_7_EDIT.gdb 
Ex: 2011_Playa_AZHVR503_Event_ArcPro_2_4_EDIT.gdb

Feature Template Layer File pointing to Edit Incident GDB

{year}_{incident name}_{Unit ID+ Local Incident ID}_{GISS Name}_FeatTemplate_EDIT.lyrx
Required: Feature templates are created to speed data editing and the layer file stores the feature templates settings for easy recovery.
Ex: 2011_Playa_AZHVR503_JoeSmith_FeatTemplate_EDIT.lyrx

Incident geospatial data backup files

{current date}_{time}_ {incident name}_{Unit ID+ Local Incident ID}_{tool/GDB schema & version used to produce data}.gdb 
Ex: 20110515_0830_Playa_AZHVR503_ Event_ArcMap_10_7.gdb
Ex: 20110516_2230_Playa_AZHVR503_ Event_ArcPro_2_4.gdb

Other Incident Geodatabase(s)

{year}_{incident name}_{Unit ID+ Local Incident ID}_{type}_{tool/GDB schema & version used to produce data}.gdb  Ex: 2011_Playa_AZHVR503_other_incident_data_ ArcPro_2_4.gdb
Ex: 2011_Playa_AZHVR503_MP_Grid_Index_ArcMap_10_7.gdb
Ex: 2011_Playa_AZHVR503_Annotation_ ArcPro_2_4.gdb
Ex: 2011_Playa_AZHVR503_Progression_ ArcPro_2_4.gdb

Feature Classes within a geodatabase (not in the Event GDB)

i_{current date}_{time}_{incident name}_{Unit ID+ Local Incident ID}_{data type}_{ feature type}
Optional for index grids: {number of pages}_{size of pages}_{page orientation}
Ex: i_20110516_0955_Playa_AZHVR503_MP_Grid_Index_8_pg_11x17_land
Ex: i_20110516_0955_Playa_AZHVR503_Div_Anno_24k_iap

Incident data or export files

{current date}_{time}_ {incident name}_{Unit ID+ Local Incident ID}_{data type}_{feature type}
Ex: 20110515_0940_Playa_AZHVR503_ics_flin.lyrx
Ex: 20110516_2230_Playa_AZHVR503_ics_pnt.gdb 
Ex: 20110515_0940_Playa_AZHVR503_per_pol.kmz
Ex: 20110515_0940_Playa_AZHVR503_24k_vector_base.vtpk
Ex: 20110515_0940_Playa_AZHVR503_sit.mpk

GPS/GNSS data files

{collected date}_{time}_ {incident name}_{Unit ID+ Local Incident ID}_{GPS feature type}_{data source}
Ex: 20110516_0930_Playa_AZHVR503_GPS_feat_fobs_Lewis.gpx
Ex: 20110516_1540_Playa_AZHVR503_GPS_lin_divs_Clark.shp

Map product files

{map type}_{page size}_{page orientation}_{current date}_{time}_ {incident name}_{Unit ID+ Local Incident ID}_{Operational period if appropriate}.pdf
Optional: {dpi value}, {_opt, optimized .pdf}
Ex: iap_8x11_land_20110514_2023_ Playa_AZHVR503_0515Day.pdf
Ex: trans_letter_land_20110516_2120_ Playa_AZHVR503_0517Day_150dpi.jpg
Ex: plans_ansi_d_port_20110517_0420_ Playa_AZHVR503_0517Day_opt.pdf

Multi-Page Map product files

{current date}_{time}_ {incident name}_{Unit ID+ Local Incident ID}_{Operational period}_{ map type }_{page size}_{page orientation}_MP{page number}.pdf
Optional: {dpi value}, {_opt, optimized .pdf}
Ex: iap_11x17_land_MPall_20110516_2120_ Playa_AZHVR503_0517Day.pdf
Ex: iap_11x17_land_MPindex_20110516_2120_ Playa_AZHVR503_0517Day_opt.pdf
Ex: iap_11x17_land_MP2_20110516_2120_ Playa_AZHVR503_0517Day_150dpi.jpg

Web maps, mobile maps, and data services

{year}_{incident name}_{Unit ID+ Local Incident ID}_{purpose of the map or data services}
Ex: 2017_ChetcoBar_ORRSF326_SuppressionRepair

More examples

Other Supporting Documents

{current date}_{time}_ {incident name}_{Unit ID+ Local Incident ID}_{document contents}.doc or .xls
Ex: 20110514_1420_Playa_AZHVR503_GIS_practices.docx
Ex: 20110516_1923_Playa_AZHVR503_ownership.xls

All files

Optional: {additional information} added at end of name
Include the Coordinate Reference System at the end of the file name whenever it is not included as part of the file (eg. coordinate tables).

Standard Abbreviations

This is a list of standard abbreviations for file naming; it is not all-inclusive. For other elements, select an unambiguous term to avoid confusion.

Date and Measurement Format

yyyy = year in which incident began, e.g., 2011yyyymmdd = year, month, day, e.g., 20111207
ft = feet
hr = hours
mt = meters
nm = nautical miles

Incident Data Types

contin = Contingency Line
cpx = Complex
ctlflin = Controlled Fireline
damage = Damage caused by incident or suppression efforts
div = ICS division break locations
dzr = Dozer Line
flin = Fireline
hand = Handline
icp = Incident Command Post
ics = Incident Command System, features specific to ICS

Source Codes

divs = Division Supervisor
fobs = Field Observer
gps_feature_name = Global Positioning System (add feature + collector’s name) e.g., “gps_lin_jones”
ir = Infrared
sitl = Situation Unit Leader

Feature Types

lin = line or polyline
pnt = point
pol = polygon
ras = raster

Product Type

airops = Air Operations Map
areasc = Areas of Special Concern Map
brief = Briefing Map
dam = Damage Assessment Map
facil = Facilities Map
fhist = Fire Perimeter History Map
fuels = Fuels Map
iap = Incident Action Plan Map
ir = Infrared Information Map, also
ir_ortho = IR map with orthoimage base or
ir_topo = IR map with United States Geological Survey (USGS)​ topographic base
ops = Operations Map
owner = Ownership–Land Status Map
prog = Progression Map
rehab = Rehabilitation Map
sit = Situation Unit Map
struct = Structure Protection Map
trans = Transportation Map
veg = Vegetation Map
wfdss = Wildland Fire Decision Support System Map

Page Orientation

land = landscape
MP = multi-page (such as Incident Action Plan (IAP) map)
port = portrait

Page Size

ansi_a or letter or 8x11 or 8_5x11 = 8½” x 11” paper
ansi_b or tabloid or 11x17 = 11” x 17” paper
ansi_c or 17x22 = 17” x 22” paper
ansi_d or 22x34 = 22” x 34” paper
ansi_e or 34x44 = 34” x 44” paper
arch_c or 18x24 = 18” x 24” paper
arch_d or 24x36 = 24” x 36” paper
arch_e or 36x48 = 36” x 48” paper
super_b or 13x19 = 13” x 19” paper

Coordinate System Abbreviations (for data exchange files, feature classes, not appropriate for geodatabase names)(coordinate system, datum)

ALB = Albers Equal-Area Conic Projection
Lam = Lambert Conformal Conic Projection
Ll = Latitude/Longitude (Geographic)
s+zone = State Plane Coordinate System (SPCS)
TM = Transverse Mercator Projection
u+zone = Universal Transverse Mercator Grid System

Datum Abbreviations

NAD83 = North American Datum 1983
WGS84 = World Geodetic System 1984
CORS96 = NAD83 Continuous Operating Repeater System 1996
NSRS2007 = NAD83 NSRS2007

Statewide Systems Abbreviations

AKAlb = NAD 1983 Alaska Albers (Meters)
Teale = NAD 1983 California (Teale) Albers (Meters)
FLGDL = NAD 1983 Florida GDL Albers (Meters)
GALam = NAD 1983 Georgia Statewide Lambert (US Feet)
IDTM = NAD 1983 Idaho Transverse Mercator (Meters)
GeoRef = NAD 1983 Michigan GeoRef (Meters)
MSTM = NAD 1983 Mississippi Transverse Mercator (Meters)
ORLam = NAD 1983 Oregon Statewide Lambert (Intl Feet)
TCMSLam = NAD 1983 Texas Centric Mapping System Albers (Meters)
R6Albers = NAD 1983 USFS R6 Albers (Meters)
VALam = NAD 1983 Virginia Lambert (Meters)
WTM83 = NAD 1983 Wisconsin Transverse Mercator (Meters)
WYLam = NAD 1983 WyLam (Meters)

UTM (Universal Transverse Mercator), State Plane, and Geographic Examples

u13nad83 = UTM Zone 13, NAD 1983
u17nad27 = UTM Zone 17, NAD 1927
llnad83 = Latitude/Longitude; i.e., geographic NAD 1983
llwgs84 = Latitude/Longitude; i.e., geographic WGS 1984 {st}sp5nad83 = {state abbreviation} State Plane Zone 5, NAD 1983



The GISS communicates the file naming conventions used on an incident to other GIS Specialists, including the hosting unit GIS staff and regional GIS staff. On an incident, the Situation Unit Leader (SITL)​ (or, in the absence of a SITL, the Planning Section Chief or Type 3 or Type 4 Incident Commander) ensures that individuals working in the Situation Unit follow NWCG standards, including naming standard conventions. NWCG standards represent a national interagency standard and should not be overridden at the incident level.


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