National Wildfire Coordinating Group

Map Product Standards


Standards for typical maps produced by the Situation Unit used during wildland fire incidents are key to readability and uniformity.

GIS is rapidly changing how maps are delivered on incidents. Digital map products–geospatial pdf maps, websites or files–have become a large part of the Geographic Information System Specialist (GISS)​ workload. Requests for digital maps or data for smartphone applications, public information maps created for websites, maps to be projected during briefings, or files containing the underlying spatial data, have changed the way the GISS delivers incident products. There is a slow but continuous move away from hard copy paper products and to a digital product that can be updated rapidly for the field user.

The GISS will need to be flexible in applying these standards, as the Situation Unit Leader (SITL) and other end-users may have specific needs or preferences. The most important criteria in the preparation of map products are the operational business drivers (i.e., primary use) for the products. The primary use should drive the focus of the maps. Whether provided hard copy on paper or digitally via mobile device, the map product standards still apply.


  • Maps produced on an incident should communicate the intended message clearly.
  • Use of standardized colors for maps printed in color; e.g., blue for water, green for vegetation.
  • Include S.T.A.N.D.L S.G.D on every map.
  • All incident map requests are channeled through the SITL or Planning Section Chief (PSC) so they are kept informed of the GISS workload and can help prioritize needs.
  • The SITL (or equivalent) decides which maps to produce and approves final versions.
  • The SITL directs the use of logos.
  • Placement of fire acreage (and total acreage reported) on maps is at the discretion of the SITL.
  • North arrow may need to be rotated to indicate true north correctly.
  • Maps may be requested that are not listed in this section. Those map products should adhere to standards detailed in other sections of GeoOpS.
  • Drafts: Maps that are for review only should include “DRAFT.”
  • Sensitive information: Maps should have a label defining the sensitivity of the data (e.g., “For Official Use Only,” “Not for Public Distribution or Use”).
  • Disclaimers: Maps may include disclaimers if requested or required under delegated authority (e.g., “For Reference Only”).
  • Proprietary information: Maps should cite the source for any proprietary information.

Incident Maps



Timelines for map production are established with the SITL, PSC, or the assigned supervisor. The GISS generates all products on time for scheduled briefings and other meetings. Map definitions should be used as general guidelines; the SITL or PSC has the authority to deviate from the standards.


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