National Wildfire Coordinating Group

M-581, Fire Program Management - An Overview, N/A

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Course Delivery Information

M-581 may be delivered as instructor-led (classroom) training.

NWCG training materials are being updated to reduce redundancy and conflict among overlapping documents.  Course-specific student workbooks will be replaced by standards-bearing NWCG publications - the documents that actually guide operations.  Instructor guidance will be integrated into PowerPoint presentations rather than located in separate documents.  Instructors may use the instructor guide file (exported from the PowerPoint presenter notes), view the notes in presentation mode, or export the notes into the desired format.

Expectations of Instructors

  • Prepare thoroughly. Study the course content you are going to teach.
  • Establish a collaborative and constructive classroom environment.
  • Communicate expectations.
  • Encourage student engagement.
  • Respect student diversity in backgrounds, talent, experience, and learning style.
  • Professionally represent your instructor cadre, your home unit, and your agency.

Course Guidance

Course coordinators and instructors should be thoroughly familiar with the NWCG Standards for Course Delivery, PMS 901-1.  The NWCG Standards for Course Delivery establishes standards for all aspects of NWCG training course management and delivery. These standards should be used in conjunction with the NWCG Standards for Wildland Fire Position Qualifications, PMS 310-1, and the course-specific guidance stated in the NWCG Training Catalog.


See M-581 minimum instructor qualifications.

Recommended Class Size

Recommended class size is 30-40 students. Instructors should maintain a 8:1 ratio of students to instructors/coaches to facilitate exercises and discussion and to enable strong mentorship to the students.

Cadre Meetings

Conduct initial, pre-course, daily, and close-out instructor cadre meetings. These provide opportunities to plan, organize, preview materials, review training and exercises, and identify and address concerns and issues. Consider using an informal After Action Review process. Instructor cadre meetings are critical for instructors who do not have previous experience with the course. Additional information is located in the NWCG Standards for Course Delivery, PMS 901-1.

Course Materials

Each student must be provided the following:

Instructional Design Guidelines:

  • Wildland Fire Program Components – The course content areas generally follow the Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations outline; this publication should be included as primary course material.
  • Roles and Responsibilities – Reference agency performance elements in the Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations tables as the foundation for roles and responsibilities.
  • Training in Context – Utilize group exercises, simulations, panels, and small group discussion to apply concepts that are presented during instructor presentations. Exercises, discussion and simulations should comprise 40% of the overall course presentation.
  • Student/Instructor Ratio – In order to conduct effective exercises and simulations, cadre should be structured to provide student-to-instructor ratios that fit each unit’s learning objectives.
  • Coaches: Coaches are critical to the success of the course for facilitation of effective interactions between the Agency Administrators (AA) and Fire Management Officer (FMO) during scenarios, lectures, and small group discussions or breakouts. Coaches will serve as experienced FMO/AAs to provide context to students and answer questions that may not be covered during presentations. It is recommended students be broken into groups of five to ten with an AA and FMO coach assigned.
  • Case Studies – Provide classroom case studies and references from the local geographic area or relevant incident type which present current and/or critical performance elements for both AAs and FMOs.
  • Instructional Delivery - Presentations should be designed to meet the learning outcomes outlined below from a content perspective and to utilize coaches to facilitate small group discussions which reinforce the presentation content and engage participants in dialogue and peer learning.
  • Assessment - Integrate the After Action Review (AAR) process into the exercises and simulations to allow opportunity for group learning.


Course Evaluations

Use the NWCG Course Evaluation Feedback form to collect information critical to future training improvements.

Students and cadre members are asked to contribute course evaluations. Input is welcome on all aspects of the training course, including course content, pre-course work, reference materials, quality of instruction, delivery methods, and testing procedures.


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