National Wildfire Coordinating Group

RT-130, Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher (WFSTAR)

Managing the Maze of Communications

RT-130 Decorative banner. Group of photos depicting wildland firefighters performing various duties.

Students should consider the complexity of communication systems - radio frequencies, repeaters, cell phones, texting, portables, mobiles, and any other technology currently available to firefighters. Students will be able to develop a communications management plan, considering span of control, and using the tools available to them.
Category: Operations
Core Component(s): Incident Reviews and Lessons Learned;
Human Factors, Communication and Decision Making

Estimated Delivery Time: 30 minutes; Video Length: 12:23



Recognize the complexity of communication systems that firefighters utilize. Understand the proper utilization of radio frequencies, repeaters, tones, and other technology available.

Facilitator Preparation

  • Review the video and module tools.
  • Consider additional activities and discussion questions pertinent to the location and agency.
  • Consider having handheld radios and local communication plans available for demonstrating proper usage.

Facilitating the Discussion

  • Show the video.
  • Facilitate a small or large group discussion using the discussion questions.

Discussion Questions

  1. Explain the difference between command and tactical frequencies.
  2. What is line of sight for radio transmissions?
  3. What is the purpose of a tone on radio frequencies?
  4. Describe an incident when a resource had manually programmed the incorrect radio frequency. How did this affect fireline operations?
  5. Mobile devices are not appropriate fireline communication tools for every situation.  When are they inappropriate?  When are they appropriate?


Additional Video Information

This video is also available as a download. (Size 39 MB)‚Äč
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