National Wildfire Coordinating Group

S-373, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Incident Operations, 2018

S-373 Decorative banner: Four photos of wildland fire unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operations. A UAS technician radios as he readies a drone for takeoff. Two UAS crew operate handheld devices while watching the drone fly out over a smoking area. A drone operator works with remote controls. A UAS technician mans satellite data on computers in trailer.

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This course is designed to meet the training needs of the Unmanned Aircraft System Pilot (UASP), Unmanned Aircraft System, Manager (UASM), Unmanned Aircraft System, Module Leader (UASL), and Unmanned Aircraft System, Data Specialist (UASD) to manage the information needs of incidents managed with the Incident Command System (ICS). The course combines lectures, facilitated discussions, individual/group exercises, and simulations. These UAS positions are used to collect, process, and distribute tactical and strategic information to meet the needs of incident operations and planning personnel.

During the course, students will:

  • Describe the dispatch and mobilization process and the procedures for incident check-in, time documentation, and demobilization.
  • Demonstrate ability to obtain a Special Government Interest Waiver (SGI) and file a NOTAM.
  • Demonstrate the ability to select/depict a restricted operations zone (ROZ) or suitable launch and recovery area for fireline operations.
  • Determine UAS mission altitudes and maintain separation from participating aircraft.
  • Demonstrate the ability to obtain a clearance from aerial supervision and coordinate with on-scene aircraft on designated radio frequencies.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in manual and planned flights in the incident environment.
  • Develop data management structures in accordance with agency standards.
  • Discuss the policies of Civil Rights, publicly identifiable information (PII), and data archiving based on agency standards.
  • Manage contract UAS operations in accordance with agency policy.
  • Demonstrate supervisory techniques for a module comprised of Unmanned Aircraft System Pilot (UASP) and Unmanned Aircraft System, Data Specialists (UASD).

Demonstrate the ability to:

  • Download UAS telemetry files with specialized software.
  • Download GPX and KML files with tablets / PC.
  • Produce estimated acreage and perimeter in real time.
  • Build ground control station (GCS) maps (Data Specialist).
  • Perform a viewshed analysis (Data Specialist).
  • Describe the incident planning cycle and the associated timeframes and product deadlines critical to UAS incident support.
  • Collect, package, and deliver requested data products.
  • Prepare required contractor documentation including invoices and transportation worksheets.
  • Discuss examples of the more complex data analysis and manipulation commonly requested of a UAS position.


Upon completing the course, students will have the knowledge and skills to provide UAS flight and data collection services to incident personnel and:

  • Work as a team to plan and safely implement UAS missions.
  • Collect data required to derive requested incident products.
  • Deliver requested data products within required timeframes.
  • Manage vendor provided UAS services.

Target Group

Agency qualified remote pilots and GIS specialists. Candidates from all agencies involved in wildland fire and all-hazard incident management are encouraged to apply.

Prerequisite Qualifications and Training

  • Agency remote pilot certification for Unmanned Aircraft System Pilot (UASP), Unmanned Aircraft System, Manager (UASM), and Unmanned Aircraft System, Module Leader (UASL).
  • GIS expertise and experience for Unmanned Aircraft System, Data Specialist (UASD).

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.



S-373 is available as classroom instructor-led training.

Course Components and Hours to Complete

Course Component Course Time
Pre-course work 8-12
Pre-selection assessment N/A
Online training N/A
Instructor-led training 40
Total Hours 48-52

Hardware and Software Requirements

  • All students: Tablet and PC, GPS data logger such as BadElf GPS Pro+, additional applications: Bad Elf for iOS, Gaia, Avenza
  • Unmanned Aircraft System Pilot (UASP): Agency certified UAS, Electro-optical and infrared sensors, additional applications: Solex GCS
  • Unmanned Aircraft System, Data Specialist (UASD): ArcMap with FMV and Spatial Analyst


Course locations are chosen for areas with favorable weather conditions for UAS flights and a flight area in close proximity to the classroom.

Course Level

National course presented at the geographic level

Minimum Instructor Qualifications


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


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