by Jesse Bender, NWCG
The National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) this spring published a revised Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG). The IRPG is an operational job aid carried by all state, local, federal, tribal, and territorial wildland firefighters in the United States. It is a compilation of standards for wildland fire incident response and provides a collection of best practices for firefighters while encouraging continued learning through training and experience. It does include some direction for all-hazard response as well.
NWCG revises the IRPG every four years to update standards and maintain the most current references. For example, this revision added information on smoke hazard mitigations and removed outdated information on working with airtankers. Because the IRPG is a collection of best practices, rather than the sole source for information, the revision has been carried out in concert with edits or changes to other NWCG products. The S-131, Firefighter Type 1 course will be modified to include edits made to the Look Up, Look Down, Look Around section of the IRPG. And ICS 206 WF form, the Medical Incident Report, was updated to reflect edits to the Medical Incident Report, found on the final pages of the IRPG.
Changes to the IRPG are field-driven. Solicitation for potential edits is made early in the revision process. Nearly everyone who carries an IRPG has an idea for how to improve its usefulness. This results in a large volume of suggestions which are vetted and field reviewed before edits are made to the pocket guide.
Those reviewing change submissions stick by a handful of guiding principles: keep the content brief but accurate, avoid agency policy, and make the guide relevant to those working from Firefighter Type 2 up to the Division Supervisor and Incident Commander Type 3 level.
The IRPG is the highest requested item from the Great Basin Cache, the primary provider of the publication. They average sales of over 140,000 IRPGs annually. Since the 2018 IRPGs arrived in April, they’ve had trouble keeping them on the shelf, with orders going out as quickly as the printer can delivers pallets. Already they’ve sold over 152,000 of the 2018 edition.