National Wildfire Coordinating Group

L-381, Incident Leadership, 2005

L-381 Decorative banner. Three photos depicting wildland fire supervisory positions. Photo of three firefighters; two looking up at something and the third holding papers. A group of firefighters gather for a briefing. A division supervisor talks on a cell phone with his back to camera while looking at a map.

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This is a leadership development training recommendation for incident response personnel who will function in fireline command roles. The training should be designed to provide at least 50% of the delivery time as exercises and simulations. Low student-to-instructor ratios are necessary for successful exercise/simulation-based training delivery. A dedicated cadre of at least three instructors is recommended for a class size of 18-25 students.

L-381 is targeted at leaders of divisions, groups, or Type 3 incidents. The intent of the course is to provide these individuals with the leadership tools to effectively exert command and control over a quickly-assembled team in a time-constrained and rapidly-changing incident environment. Beyond a set of tools and techniques, this training experience should be designed to make an emotional and lasting impact. Essential guiding principles for achieving this impact include: enhancing the students’ understanding of the human dimension when leading others in dynamic work environments; utilizing experiential training techniques that will engage students in ways that challenge them to perform under realistic and high-stress situations; and motivating students to examine their role, strengths, and weaknesses in that role.


The NWCG Leadership Committee has oversight and maintenance responsibility for the L-381 criteria and evaluation process. However, the delivery process used to meet this training recommendation will need to be determined by the hosting agency. Specific course information can be found at the Wildland Fire Leadership website at

Selected course materials should address these topic areas:

  • Command presence/climate
  • Leader’s intent
  • Command and control
  • Rapid team building
  • Communication techniques
  • Detecting and mitigating error
  • Operational tempo awareness


  • The intent of this training is to provide future leaders of divisions, groups, and Type 3 incidents with the leadership tools to effectively exert command and control over a quickly assembled team in a time constrained and rapidly changing incident environment.

Target Group

Personnel desiring to be qualified as Division/Group Supervisor (DIVS) or Incident Commander Type 3 (ICT3).

Prerequisite Qualifications and Training

  • Qualified as any Strike Team Leader, Task Force Leader (TFLD), Incident Commander Type 4 (ICT4), any support unit leader, or Supervisory Dispatcher.
  • Successful completion of L-180, Human Factors in the Wildland Fire Service.
  • Satisfactory completion of pre-course work.

Session Offerings

Sessions of this course may be available in the NWCG Wildland Fire Learning Portal (WFLP). Enrollment requires an account. Log on as a guest to search for session offerings of this course and to view other public content. To search for a specific course, use the FIND LEARNING menu at the top of the page, then select UPCOMING COURSES. To view Geographic Area training schedules, select the specific GEOGRAPHIC AREA information using the drop-down menu at the top of the page. Contact your local Training Officer for more information about local course sessions.



L-381 is available as classroom instructor-led training.

Course Components and Hours to Complete

Course Component Course Time
Pre-course work 8
Pre-selection assessment N/A
Online training N/A
Instructor-led training 32
Total Hours 40

Course Level

Regional, state, or area

Minimum Instructor Qualifications

For instructions on how to become a course provider, including course design criteria, minimum instructor qualifications, and certification process, refer to Reference Materials for Becoming an NWCG L-Course Provider.

All lead instructors must be certified by the NWCG Leadership Committee. The combined cadre must have career backgrounds and expertise in principle-centered leadership, emergency incident operations, human factors, and decision-making.

All instructors must be able to execute field simulations, role-playing, and classroom exercises.

Curriculum lead contact list.

See NWCG Standards for Course Delivery, PMS 901-1, Instructor Standards for more information.

Certification Date:


Previous Certification Dates:





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