The use of standard symbols in mapping wildland fires facilitates fast and consistent interpretation of mapping products and helps prevent ambiguous map interpretation, which can become a safety issue during an incident. In the interest of encouraging safety, consistency, and readability, GeoOpS describes the symbols that everyone should use when creating maps.​


The following applies:

  • Symbols should be identifiable and clearly distinguishable from other Incident Command System (ICS) symbols, whether displayed in color or in black-and-white.
  • To ensure clear communication, common map conventions (e.g., blue for hydrologic features) should be observed if possible.
  • National symbology standards should be used where appropriate. See references below.
  • Accompanying text (labels or annotation) must be given for symbols that look identical when displayed in black-and-white: for example, Drop Point (“DP”) and Helispot (“H”). Use the text not only as a designator of the symbol type but also as an identifier of a particular feature (e.g., DP-1, DP-2, H-5).
  • Choice of symbol size is at the discretion of the Geographic Information System Specialist (GISS) and the Situation Unit Leader (SITL)​.
  • Latitude/Longitude information is displayed in degrees, decimal minutes, WGS 84 datum.



The SITL ensures that standard map symbology is used for mapping wildland fire incidents. The GISS uses the standard GIS map symbology and (if applicable) standard map symbol colors but may adapt (e.g., enlarge, use halo) the symbology for map readability while maintaining the essential design of the standard symbols.


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