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National Incident Radio Support Cache


National Incident Radio Support Cache

The NIFC Radio Cache is the largest in the world consisting of 8,000 handheld radios, 200 repeaters, and 15 portable satellite systems, containing about 10,000 pieces of equipment worth $26 million. This equipment can support about 32,000 firefighters or 53 major disasters at one time. This cache is maintained and used primarily for wildland fire, however, it may show up on any federally supported large incident or disaster such as floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, law enforcement and large special events (it was used in 2004 for both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions). It is located and maintained by the National Interagency Incident Communications Division (NIICD) of the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) in Boise, Idaho. The NIICD Communications Duty Officer (CDO) is the nationwide incident frequency coordinator for this cache and issues authorizations based on potential interference with nearby incidents and other agencies. The CDO coordinates aviation (VHF AM) frequency use with the FAA, the sole agency responsible for the use of aviation frequencies.

Each Geographic Area Coordination Center (GACC) can order 4 basic "Starter Systems" for preposition during their established fire season. A Starter System consists of 10 boxes of assorted equipment including 1 VHF Repeater/Link and 1 UHF Repeater. Generally the frequency assignments for these repeaters will be one of the standard VHF Command assignments (C1 through C6) and one of the standard UHF assignments (L1 through L7). Any UHF frequency listed on the "Logistics" table below can be used to link command repeaters and VHF AM "Victor" remote bases to the Incident Command Post and other locations such as a heliports, portable retardant plants, etc. Repeaters are installed in fiberglass cases for shipping and placement. Antennas, batteries and installation/maintenance tools are included as communications unit staff may arrive via aircraft with weight restrictions that prevent carrying tools. All command repeaters are shipped with UHF link radios installed.

If an incident grows in size and complexity communication needs will change. Incidents have different characteristics such as the type of incident (fire, earthquake, hurricane, special event, etc.) topography, size, number and types of resources assigned, type of incident management team(s) assigned, fuel type(s) burning, existence and proximity of wildland urban interface areas, distance from towns, distance from air tanker bases, the number and type of aircraft used, location of shipment receiving facilities, number of VHF handheld radios brought by arriving resources, cell phone coverage, availability and type of Internet connection, and availability of commercial electricity. Mobile radios installed (25 watts and up) in fire apparatus are not cloned and systems are designed to provide handheld radio (normally 5 watt maximum) coverage. Communication systems need to be designed that take these factors into consideration. Communication system components are available in 25 prepackaged kits. These kits are then used to build a system that meets all the incident's needs.

If one command repeater cannot provide coverage of an entire incident an additional command repeater(s) is placed in locations that collectively provide full coverage of the incident. These repeaters are linked together with UHF repeaters in an integrated system that allows each repeater to carry the traffic of all the other command repeaters. Each handheld radio is programmed with the frequencies of all the command repeaters used on the incident. This enables each handheld access to this integrated system from all locations. If remote bases are installed that a scanner cannot receive, topography and location may allow reception of link frequencies. Entering each of the frequencies on the "Logistics" table below in a scanner is a good start when searching for UHF linking frequencies.

The frequencies shown in the tables below are permanently assigned. For reasons that are not always clear, perhaps due to interference or leaving frequencies available for potential new incidents, temporary frequency authorizations may be issued on an incident by incident basis. Frequencies are selected by the communications unit leader of each incident using a database list of frequencies assigned to all federal agencies in the area of the incident. The communications unit leader selects currently unused frequencies and requests CDO authorization for their use. The CDO considers the needs of other incidents and may authorize the requested frequencies or authorize others. These authorizations cover the limited area of incidents and only for its duration. Subsequent incidents in the same area in the same year may have different frequencies assigned to it. It is not entirely clear if authorizations are carried over to the next year. Conversations with communications unit leaders at incident scenes indicate they are not. Several Radio Reference members have reported the use of some command frequency pairs for more than one year, with the name of the frequency (Command 37, etc.) staying the same.

  • Frequencies listed here are subject to change at any time and are not verified to be 100% accurate, complete or current in all areas.
  • All frequencies listed are narrowband FM (FMN). It is possible that P25 digital mode may be used in some areas. According to Interagency Aviation Tech Bulletin dated February, 2008 all aviation FM radios are required to be P25 capable.
  • A partial list of pre-assigned national frequencies is contained in Chapter 15 - Communications of the publicly available document Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations (Redbook).
  • Starting in 2014 per the National Incident Radio Support Cache User’s Guide "New for 2014" on page 2, incidents are advised to program CTCSS tones in all VHF repeaters (command) and all tactical frequencies. The communications duty officer (CDO) assigns the tones on an incident by incident basis.
  • Handheld radios are cloned per the Incident Radio Communications Plan (ICS 205). Mobile radios are not cloned.


These frequencies are authorized for use in handhelds and mobiles only. Installation in base stations is not authorized.

National Interagency Fire Tactical Frequencies
Frequency Type Description Notes
168.0500MTac 1
168.2000MTac 2
168.6000MTac 3
166.7250MTac 5
166.7750MTac 6
166.2500MTac 7
  • The authorization for Tac 4 was terminated several years ago. A replacement frequency has not been authorized.
  • Some U.S. Forest Service regions and BLM state offices now have unique tactical frequencies assigned for day to day work, initial attack and locally managed (Type III, IV & V) extended attack incidents. The objective is to use the NIFC tactical frequencies on nationally managed (Type I & II) extended attack incidents only. It is unknown if other Forest Service regions and BLM state offices will be assigned unique frequencies to meet this objective nationwide.


Frequency Input Type Description Notes (or Location Channel Heard/Verified)
168.7000170.9750RCMD 01
168.1000170.4500RCMD 02
168.0750170.4250RCMD 03
166.6125168.4000RCMD 04
167.1000169.7500RCMD 05
168.4750173.8125RCMD 06
CMD 07(1)
169.5375164.7125RCMD 08(2) Fed Interoperability Channel Calling (NC 1)
170.0125165.2500RCMD 09(2) Fed Interoperability Channel Incident Response (IR 1)
170.4125165.9625RCMD 10(2) Fed Interoperability Channel Incident Response (IR 2)
170.6875166.5750RCMD 11(2) Fed Interoperability Channel Incident Response (IR 3)
173.0375167.3250RCMD 12(2) Fed Interoperability Channel Incident Response (IR 4)
166.3125172.4750RCMD 13(3)
164.7125169.5375RCMD 14(2) NC 1 Frequency Pair Reversed
165.2500170.0125RCMD 15(2) IR 1 Frequency Pair Reversed
165.9625170.4125RCMD 16(2) IR 2 Frequency Pair Reversed
165.5750170.6875RCMD 17(2) IR 3 Frequency Pair Reversed
167.3250173.0375RCMD 18(2) IR 4 Frequency Pair Reversed
169.3625173.6750RCMD 19(3)
167.9875UnknownRCMD 20(3)
169.5375UnknownRCMD 21(3)
166.3625UnknownRCMD 22(3)
164.0125UnknownRCMD 23(3)
166.9625UnknownRCMD 24(3)
170.5125168.4750RCMD 25(3)
165.4500UnknownRCMD 26(3)
165.0125UnknownRCMD 27(3)
166.6125UnknownRCMD 28(3)
166.5625UnknownRCMD 29(3)
169.8125173.8250RCMD 30(3) Rough Fire - Sierra and Sequoia National Forests and Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks, CA 2015
164.7750170.0500RCMD 32(3) Fork Complex - Shasta-Trinity National Forest, CA 2015
166.3250UnknownRCMD 33(3) Butte Fire - Calaveras/Amador Counties, Cal Fire, CA 2015
170.1125162.1875RCMD 36(3) Rough Fire - Sierra and Sequoia National Forests and Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks, CA 2015
172.5500162.1875RCMD 37(3) King Fire - Eldorado National Forest, CA 2014
172.5500163.8250RCMD 37(3) Happy Camp Complex - Klamath National Forest, CA 2014
172.5500162.7750RCMD 37(3) Rough Fire - Sierra and Sequoia National Forests and Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks, CA 2015
173.8750163.6625RCMD 39(3) Rough Fire - Sierra and Sequoia National Forests and Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks, CA 2015
172.7000163.7625RCMD 40(3) Rough Fire - Sierra and Sequoia National Forests and Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks, CA 2015
173.5250UnknownRCMD 41(3) Butte Fire - Calaveras/Amador Counties, Cal Fire 2015
173.0625162.6125RCMD 45(3) Fork Complex - Shasta-Trinity National Forest, CA 2015
164.8375172.1375RCMD 45(3) Lost Fire - CA BLM NOD, CA 2012
173.0625167.9625RCMD ??(3) Happy Camp Complex - Klamath National Forest, CA 2014
169.7375162.1875RCMD 51(3) Canyon Creek Complex - Malheur National Forest, OR 2015
165.3875162.7000RCMD 54(3) Canyon Creek Complex - Malheur National Forest, OR 2015
164.1375169.6500RCMD 58(3) King Fire - Eldorado National Forest, CA 2014
164.8375170.0500RCMD 59(3) King Fire - Eldorado National Forest, CA 2014
172.5500162.7000RCMD 59(3) Canyon Creek Complex - Malheur National Forest, OR 2015
167.0625173.0250RCMD 60(3) King Fire - Eldorado National Forest, CA 2014
164.8625170.3875RCMD 61(3) King Fire - Eldorado National Forest, CA 2014

  • (1) The authorization for Command 7 was withdrawn in 2011. Authorization has not been issued for a replacement pair of frequencies.
  • (2) Command Channels 8-12 are in the Federal Interoperability Channel Plan as NC1 and IR1-IR4. See the NTIA Federal Incident Response Channel Plan for more information. These channels are listed in the 2015 California FIRESCOPE communications plan. There is a single verified report of one of these frequency pairs being used on an incident outside of California. This would indicate these commands are available for use outside of California.
  • (3) Members have reported these command frequencies being used on large incidents. Some have been listed on copies of incident communication plans obtained by members. Those shown with no frequencies have been shown on publicly available incident maps, but without access to frequency information or reception reports. The commands highlighted by notation (3) may not be permanent, long term, wide area authorizations, rather are temporary use of frequencies in the pool of unused federal frequencies that are assigned on an incident by incident basis. The use of these frequencies, most especially the names, i.e. "Command 16," may not carry over to subsequent years or to incidents outside the area they were authorized for. If nothing is heard on Commands 1-12, these additional command frequencies may be in use. Members are requested to report if they are and if the same name is applied to them. Use of command channels in the gaps between those listed has not been reported.
  • The use of CTCSS tones on both the transmit and receive frequencies is necessary due to interference with other incidents that might be within "earshot" of other incidents, other RF sources and, in the case of incidents in proximity to Mexico, illegal use of these frequencies. The latter is common in the southern portions of the region covered by the Southern California and Southwest Geographical Area Coordination Centers.


This information was confirmed from official information as of 2009 with updates from 2015.

The outputs can be used simplex as well.

Links for aircraft are typically dedicated to aircraft operations.

These frequencies may also be used for cross band repeaters and links.

The repeater input/output frequencies of Logistics 1 -7 are sometimes reversed for different repeater configurations and some of the inputs may be used for simplex.

Frequency Input Type Description Notes
406.4000415.4000RLogistics 1
406.5875415.5875RLogistics 2
408.7875417.7875RLogistics 3
410.2750419.2750RLogistics 4
410.7750419.7750RLogistics 5
408.6875417.6875RLogistics 6
408.5000417.5000RLogistics 7
406.4000BMRepeater Link 1
406.5875BMRepeater Link 2
408.7875BMRepeater Link 3
410.2750BMRepeater Link 4
410.7750BMRepeater Link 5
408.8000BMRepeater Link 6
408.5000BMRepeater Link 7
411.4000BMRepeater Link 8
408.9000BMRepeater Link 9Retired 2013
411.5000BMAircraft Link 1
411.8000BMAircraft Link 2
412.6000BMAircraft Link 3
411.7500BMAircraft Link 4
411.9250BMAircraft Link 5
412.1500BMAircraft Link 6
412.2000BMAircraft Link 7
411.2500BMAircraft Link 8
410.2375BMAircraft Link 9
410.2375419.2375RMAircraft Link 10
410.4375BMAircraft Link 11
410.4375419.4375RMAircraft Link 12
410.6375BMAircraft Link 13
410.6375419.6375RMAircraft Link 14
411.3000BMCamp Net 1
411.4250BMCamp Net 2
411.5250BMCamp Net 3
411.5750BMCamp Net 4
414.6500BMCamp Net 5
417.9000BMCamp Net 6

  • Aircraft links provide communications for the Incident Command Post (ICP) and/or Heliports - Helispots to/from distant VHF AM ("Victor") frequency remote bases. The aircraft transmit on Victor frequencies and the ICP and heliports/helispots receive it on UHF frequencies, which in turn, via the link and the remote base, transmit back to the aircraft on VHF AM. This situation exists when the size of the incident is large and/or the topography is mountainous sufficient to prevent VHF AM air to ground communications over the entire incident. VHF AM radios transmit at very low power, but due to elevation cover a significant area. Low power is used to reduce the chances of interfering with nearby incidents.
  • In some situations repeaters used for logistics purposes only are placed in high locations when the ICP and supply sources or receiving/distribution centers are in separate and distant locations.

Air VHF FM ("Foxtrot Mike") Frequencies

These include National Air Guard, National Flight Following and the 73 channel National Air to Ground system. Air to ground frequencies are assigned for initial attack to zones within each state. If the incident grows larger (extended attack) a new air to ground frequency(s) will be assigned. This assignment obtains frequencies from two sources: unused National Air to Ground system frequency(s) or unused federal government frequency(s) in the area of the incident. These assignments are made after approval by the Communications Duty Officer of the National Interagency Incident Communications Division (NIICD) at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. The frequencies might not be used on other incidents or even used in the same area in the same, or subsequent, years.

Prior to 2013 there were 5 national air to air FM tactical frequencies that were used for both initial and extended attack. These 5 frequencies are now part of the National Air to Ground system and, with the exception of California, air to air tactical traffic is conducted on VHF AM aviation frequencies. California has 31 federal air to air tactics FM frequencies with 2 or 3 assigned to each of the 18 national forests in the state.

When an incident evolves into an extended attack, the air tactics group supervisor (ATGS) makes the request for extended attack air-to-air tactics and air-to-ground frequencies be assigned. When frequencies are approved it might occur while the shift is in progress. When this happens the change is announced on all the aviation frequencies in use and the command frequency, which during the initial attack phase is most often the forest net (USFS), district net (BLM), park net (NPS), refuge net (USFWS) or the fire/emergency net of any of those jurisdictions. This is gradually changing as maintaining confidentiality of frequency use is increasing.

In most circumstances the unique extended attack air-to-ground frequency change will be made effective the beginning of a shift. In this case all frequency changes are announced at shift briefings and listed in the shift Incident Action Plan. Shifts are 0600 to 1800 (day shift) and 1800 to 0600 (night shift). Almost all changes are effective at the beginning of day shift, as that is when most aviation activity occurs.

If this announcement is missed anyone monitoring a large incident that uses air support should search the federal VHF frequency band (162.000 MHz - 174.000 MHz, 12.5 kHz steps) to find the VHF FM air-to-ground frequencies if traffic is not received on the pre-assigned frequencies listed below.

National Flight Following is used by the almost all interagency dispatch centers, however, some of these now have their own local flight following frequency assigned for use in their areas only. These local flight following frequencies are employed when aircraft are working within a dispatch area. These frequencies will be listed in the state by state federal government listings as soon as they have been confirmed by listeners.

According to this document there will be two, and three in some cases, permanently assigned air-to-ground FM frequencies for each initial attack zone nationwide. This information has been taken from confirmed sources and is accurate as of January, 2014 for all but the Alaska GACC and Southern GACC. The Southern GACC information is valid as of 2/2013. Alaska uses VHF-AM (Victor) frequencies for air to air and air to ground communications.

These frequencies are not assigned for air to ground exclusively nationwide. Some of the frequencies may be used as National Forest, National Park, BLM District or National Wildlife Refuge primary nets or local tactical channels. Air to ground frequencies are assigned in a manner that interference with local nets is not possible due to distance and/or topography.

Air VHF FM (Air Guard/Flight Following/Air-to-Ground)
Frequency Type Name Source Information (1) State and Zone Use Notes
168.6250BMNational Air Guard (PL 110.9 tx/CSQ rx)Nationwide
168.6500BMNational Flight Following (PL 110.9 tx/rx)Nationwide
151.3100MA/G 01NW GBOR01, UT01Great Basin shows as 154.3100 for UT01
166.6375MA/G 02RM SW GB SAKS01, ID06, ID07, NV06, TX01
151.1450MA/G 03NR GBID02, ID04, ID05, ID 06, ID07GB shows w/100.0 (Tone 9) for ID 02, 04, 05
159.3450MA/G 04SWAZ07SW shows w/192.8 (Tone 16).
166.7500MA/G 05RMNE01
166.8000MA/G 06RM SW GBKS01, NV02, NV04
166.8500MA/G 07RM SW SACO02, CO02, CO04, CO05, TX02, TX06
166.8750MA/G 08SW GB CACA01, NV01, NV03, NV05
166.9125MA/G 09RM SW NW SACO03, CO05, OR01, OR06, TX03, TX04
166.9375MA/G 10NR RM SW GBMT03, MT08, UT04, WY04
168.9625MA/G 11RM EAIL01, IL02, IN01, MO01
167.0750MA/G 12RM NWWA03, WY01, WY05, WY07
167.4250MA/G 13NR RM GB SA EACO02, CO04, FL01, FL04, GICC, ID01, MT04, MT08, NCCC, ND01-04, WY01, WY05
167.5000MA/G 14RM CACA02, WY02, WY06
167.5250MA/G 15RM GB SAAR01, CO04, FL02,FL05, NV06, PR01, VICC, WY03, WY04, WY07, WI01, WI03
169.1750MA/G 16EAWI01, WI02
167.9875MA/G 17NR SW GBAZ05, AZ06, ID02, ID05, ID07, MT04
168.0125MA/G 18NR RM SW GBMT02, MT05, NM01 UT02, UT05
168.1250MA/G 19RM EA GBID04, MN01, UT03, WI01, WI02, WY09
168.1750MA/G 20SW GBID02, NM02
168.1500MA/G 21GBUT02
166.6125MA/G 22SWAZ05
166.7625MA/G 23GBNV05
168.6375MA/G 24RM GB CA NWCA03, OR05, SD02, UT03
168.7500MA/G 25RM SW GBE GBWNE, NM02, SD, UT03
166.6875MA/G 26SWAZ02
166.8250MA/G 27RM SWAZ06, NM05
170.0000MA/G 28RM SW NW SA EAAR02, BRC, FL01, FL04, IL01, IL02, IN01, KY, LA, MI01, MI02, MN01, MO, NC, OH01, SC, TX01, TX02, VT01, WA01
166.9000MA/G 29NRMT01, MT06
171.1375MA/G 30GBID01(2)
171.5250MA/G 31RMSD01, SD02, SD04, WY03
166.9625MA/G 32NR RM SWAZ01, AZ03, MT07
171.5750MA/G 33RM SWAZ01
167.1750MA/G 34SWAZ02, AZ07
167.2250MA/G 35RM SACO06, KY, OK01, OK02, OK03, SD01, SD02, WY01, WY03, WY05, WY06
172.2500MA/G 36Not assigned for initial attack, available for extended attack.
167.3000MA/G 37NWOR03
167.3750MA/G 38NW SALA OR05
172.4000MA/G 39GBID03
167.4500MA/G 40SW NW SATX01-06, WA03
167.4750MA/G 41SW CA NW SAAZ03, CA03, OR04, TX03, TX04, WA01
167.5500MA/G 42NW SA AR03, OR07
167.6000MA/G 43GB, CA, SWCA01, ID03, NM04, NV04
167.6250MA/G 44RM GB NW RM SW SAAR02, AZ07, FL03, FL05, OR06, UT04
167.6500MA/G 45NRID07
167.7000MA/G 46NR SAMT05, TN
167.7250MA/G 47NR SWAZ02, MT06
167.8875MA/G 48NRMT02, MT07
168.0375MA/G 49RM GBCO03, NV01
168.2875MA/G 50NW SAAL OR01
168.3125MA/G 51RM SW GB NW EANM04, NV03, OR02, UT05 WA02, WI01, WI02
168.3875MA/G 52NR RMMT01, MT03, MT06, MT08
168.4875MA/G 53NR SW GB CACA04, MT03, ND01, ND02, ND03, ND04, NM01, NV02
168.5375MA/G 54NR GBID04 ID06
168.5625MA/G 55All other sources do not show this frequency or an associated area where it is usedSource requested anonymity
168.6625MA/G 56RM SWAZ01, AZ03, CO01, NM02, NM05
168.7250MA/G 57GBUT01
169.0875MA/G 58RMCO0, CO06
169.1125MA/G 59SW CACA02, CA04
169.1250MA/G 60SWAZ06
169.2875MA/G 61NR SW NWAZ06, ND02, ND04, OR03
169.3625MA/G 62RM SW GB NW NM03, NM04, OR02, OR07, WY02, WY09SW shows w/110.9 (Tone 1) for NM03, the Gila-Las Cruces Zone
171.4250MA/G 63SWAZ03
171.4750MA/G 64SWAZ05, NM03
172.3750MA/G 65Not assigned for initial attack, available for extended attack.
166.6750MA/G 66NW SA EAAR01, AR03, BRC, FL05, GA, KY, LA, MAC, MI01, MI02, MS, NC, NH01, OH01, PA01, SC, VA, VT01, WA02, WV01
159.2250MA/G 67RM SAOK03
159.3900MA/G 68RM SAOK01
159.4500MA/G 69SAOK02
167.9500MA/G 70SA EAAR01, AR03, BRC, FL01, FL02, FL04, FL06, IL01, IL02, IN01, MAC, MS, MI01, MI02, MN01, MO01, OH01, PA01, TN, VT01, WV01
168.6750MA/G 71SAFL02, FL03
169.1500MA/G 72RM SA EAAL, AR02, BRC, FL03, FL05, FL06, GA, MO01, MAC, NH01, PA01, TN, WV01
169.2000MA/G 73SA SWAL, TX01, TX02, TX05
??MA/G 74
168.0000MA/G 75GBID04
169.1250MA/G 88SWNM03SW shows w/110.9 (Tone 1) for NM03, the Gila-Las Cruces Zone
167.7000MA/G 89SWNM03SW shows w/110.9 (Tone 1) for NM03, the Gila-Las Cruces Zone

  • (1) Geographical Area Coordination Center (GACC): NR=Northern Rockies, RM=Rocky Mountain, SW=Southwest, GB=Great Basin, CA=California (South Ops & N Ops), NW=Northwest, SA=Southern, EA=Eastern. Access this page to obtain GACC boundaries:
  • (2) The authorization for 171.1375 expired 04/11/2011 and is not to be used as an air-to-ground, however it is still listed by the Great Basin GACC for use. The replacement frequency is not known at this time (02/2014). Permanent assignment for land based fixed stations (remote bases and repeaters) has been noted in 2015.
  • BRC=Big Rivers Compact MAC=Mid Atlantic Compact. Compacts are multiple state agreement to share resources for wildland fire suppression.
  • 2014 was the last year that the Western Great Basin GACC in Reno, Nevada operated. On 01/01/2015 it was combined with the Eastern Great Basin in Salt Lake City, Utah, now called the "Great Basin Geographical Coordination Center." The table above reflects this by not distinguishing between the West and East Great Basin GACC's.

Air VHF AM ("Victor") Frequencies

The FAA has jurisdiction over the VHF AM aviation band. Authorizations are issued each year by April 1st and expire on November 1st. All frequencies are subject to change each year.

All dispatch zones have 1-3 air-to-air frequencies assigned for initial attack, depending on the wildland fire workload of those zones.

Temporary, incident specific frequencies, are assigned to extended attack incidents, by NIFC following authorization by the FAA. The table below shows permanent and nationally assigned frequencies.

Frequency Type Description Notes
123.9000BMMulticom - AA/RW/FW(2)
122.8500BMMulticom - AA/RW/FW(2)

  • AA = Air to Air, AG = Air to Ground, FW = Fixed Wing (Airplanes), RW = Rotary Wing (Helicopters)
  • (1) National Multicom-Natural Resources. This is a nationwide assigned frequency that may be used by any aircraft, at any time, involved in any natural resource/environmental activity, be that federal, state or local. Should be used not to exceed 40 nautical miles at 10,000 feet.
  • (2) Multicom is defined as: activities of a temporary, seasonal, emergency nature, etc, and for airports with no tower, FSS (Flight Service Station, or UNICOM (private fixed base operator).
  • (3) These frequencies are not designated for exclusive use by the federal government or wildland fire suppression operations.
  • Information per FAA directive dated November, 2012 and posted on the NIFC website.

Smokejumping & Helicopter Rappelling/RADS

Air-to-Ground Frequency for Smokejumping & Helicopter Rappelling/RADS and Smokejumper Ground Tactical Frequency

Frequency Type Tone Notes
168.5500M123.0Smokejumpers Air to Ground (1)
168.5500M110.9Rappel/RADS Air to Ground (1) (2)
168.3500M123.0Smokejumper Ground Tactical

  • (1) Nationwide exclusive use authorization.
  • (2) Rope Assisted Delivery System (RADS) is the delivery of cargo using a "sling" line attached to the underside of a helicopter. The cargo is contained in a large rope net. The length of the sling line varies depending on terrain and the heights of trees. Sling lines are then called "long lines" or "short lines."

National Airtanker Base Information and Radio Frequencies

This information was confirmed from several credible sources as of 2014.

These are VHF-AM "Victor" frequencies.

These frequencies are assigned and authorized by the FAA, not NIFC. They are subject to annual revision by the FAA.

Most bases use 123.975. All bases are listed, in spite of the apparent redundancy, to show where current air tanker and retardant reload bases are located.

The listed bases may have season long or partial season air tankers, or may only be used for reloading retardant for an active incident nearby.

Most air tankers do not stay in one place for an entire season. They might start in the southwestern U.S. in late April or May, When monsoonal rains arrive in early July they are moved to areas where the burning conditions have become critical. Contracts schedules are determined in late winter and early spring, with a set schedule that moves the aircraft to match the average or typical peak fire season of each geographical area. This schedule is subject to change if the fire season varies from the projection.

State owned air tankers in California are not national resources and with very few exceptions don't leave the state. Most stay at the same base, but are temporarily pre-positioned in other areas as conditions dictate.

SEAT stands for "Single Engine Air Tankers." They are similar in appearance to crop dusters as they are modified agricultural aircraft. Retardant capacity ranges from 400-800 gallons.

MAFFS stands for Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System. There are (8) C-130 (Hercules) military aircraft that are owned by the U.S. Forest Service and maintained and flown with military personnel. They can be mobilized or pre-positioned at a limited number of civilian airtanker bases when all civilian air tankers (under contract) have been committed or are expected to be committed. They are housed at one Air Force base and three National Guard bases. Those bases are: the 146th Airlift Wing, California National Guard, Port Hueneme; the 302nd Airlift Wing, Air Force Reserve, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado; the 145th Airlift Wing, North Carolina Air National Guard, Charlotte; and the 153rd Airlift Wing, Wyoming Air National Guard, Cheyenne.

The following notations are used in the tables below
  • (1) S2=Cal Fire air tanker, L=Federal large air tanker, S=Single Engine Air Tanker (SEAT), M=Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS), V= Very Large Air Tanker (VLAT)
  • (2) Notes may include the following information:
  • Italicized = Bases where air tankers are reloaded only. All the listed bases are able to reload the aircraft types listed for that base and most of them have air tankers assigned to them for a period during the season. Others are not assigned air tankers on the schedule and are called "reload bases." Short term overnight staging of aircraft at reload bases occurs when a nearby incident is going to use them the next day. When they are no longer needed for an incident they are released to return to their assigned base.
  • Most MAFFS air tanker bases are for reloading only and cannot accommodate overnight parking. MAFFS reloading bases will be italicized and show "Reload Only." followed by a number that can be accommodated at the same time, e.g. "Reload Only (1)". Those that can accommodate overnight parking are noted with "overnight," followed by a number that can be parked. For example: Overnight (4). Obviously, overnight bases can reload also.
  • Bases with the notation "SEAT" are only capable of loading SEAT aircraft and none of the larger airtankers.
  • Large air tankers consist of a variety of aircraft with retardant capacities of 2,000-3,000 gallons.
  • Very Large Air tankers (VLAT) are modified 747's and DC-10's. The 747 has a retardant capacity of 20,000 gallons and the DC-10 12,000 gallons.
  • Agency abbreviations: BIA=Bureau of Indian Affairs; BLM=Bureau of Land Management; USFS=United States Forest Service

Alaska Geographical Area Coordination Center
Frequency State Air Tanker Base FAA ID Aircraft Capability (1) Managing Agency & Notes (2)
123.9750AKDelta JunctionBIGL-SDOF
123.9750AKFort Wainwright (Fairbanks) FBKLBLM
123.9750AKTanacross (Tok)TSGL-SDOF

DOF=Alaska Division of Forestry

California Geographical Area Coordination Centers (North Ops and South Ops)
Frequency State Air Tanker Base FAA ID Aircraft Capability (1) Managing Agency & Notes (2)
UnkCAAlturasAATSBLM SEAT Reload only
123.9750CABishopBIHS2-L-SUSFS Reload only
123.9750CACastle (Merced)MERS2-L-SUSFS Reload only Replaced Stockton as of 2014
123.9750CAChicoCICS2-L-S-MCal Fire--M Reload only (1)
123.9750CAColumbiaO22S2-SCal Fire
123.9750CAFortuna (Rohnerville)FOTS2-L-SCal Fire
123.9750CAFresnoFATS2-L-S-MUSFS--M Reload only (1)
123.9750CAGrass ValleyGOOS2-SCal Fire
123.9750CAHemet (Ryan Field)HMTS2-SCal Fire
123.9750CAHollister3O7S2-SCal Fire
123.9750CALancaster (Fox Field)WJFS2-L-S-MUSFS--M Reload only (1)
126.9250CAMcClellan'MCCS2-L-S-M-VCal Fire--M Reload only (1)
123.9750CAPaso RoblesPRBS2-L-S-MCal Fire--M Reload only (1)
123.9750CAPortervillePTVS2-L-SUSFS/Cal Fire
123.9750CARamonaRNMS2-L*-SCal Fire--*Will only accommodate the P3 Orion
123.9750CAReddingRDDS2-L-SCal Fire/USFS
123.9750CASan BernardinoSBDS2-L-S-M-VUSFS/BLM--M Overnight (1)
123.9750CASanta MariaSMXS2-L-S-MUSFS--M Reload only (1)
UnkCASonomaSTSS2-L-SCal Fire
123.9750CASanta RosaSTSS2-L-SCal Fire
123.9750CASiskiyou Co. (Montague)SIYS2-L-SUSFS Reload Base
N/ACAStocktonSCKClosed-replaced by Castle 2014
123.9750CAUkiahUKIS2-SCal Fire
TBDCAVictorvilleVCVS2-VCal Fire Reload Base

Cal Fire=California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Cal Fire uses 23 Grumman S2T "Turbine Tankers." Initially 23 of these aircraft were obtained by the U.S. Forest Service from the military as surplus. The Forest Service retained ownership and leased the planes to Cal Fire. The state replaced all 23 of these aircraft with newly built planes between 2002 and 2005 and now have ownership. Their capacity is 1200 gallons of retardant and are highly maneuverable. They are unique in that they are new aircraft built as airtankers, are owned by a state and are not used planes with a history of military use.

Eastern Geographical Area Coordination Center
Frequency State Air Tanker Base FAA ID Aircraft Capability (1) Managing Agency & Notes (2)
123.9750MNEly SeaplaneMN41S & Seaplane AircraftUSFS SEAT
123.9750MNPrincetonPNMSDNR SEAT

DNR = Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Great Basin Geographical Area Coordination Center
Frequency State Air Tanker Base FAA ID Aircraft Capability (1) Managing Agency & Notes (2)
123.9250NVBattle MountainBAML-SBLM
133.5750IDBoiseBOIL-S-M-VUSFS--M Overnight (1); V (2)
124.3750UTCedar CityCDCL-S-MBLM M Reload only
123.9750UTFillmoreU19SBLM SEAT
125.8250UTHill Air Force BaseHIFL-S-MUSFS M Reload only
123.9750NVJean0L7SBLM SEAT
123.9750NVLincoln County1L1SBLM SEAT
123.9750NV/ORMcDermitt26USBLM SEAT (Winnemucca District staffed)
123.9750NVMesquite67LSBLM SEAT
123.9750NVMinden-TahoeMEV??? Status unknown-replaced by Stead?
123.9750IDMountain HomeU76SBLM SEAT
123.9750UTNephiU14SBLM SEAT
UnknownUTPanaca1L1SBLM SEAT
123.9750IDPocatelloPIHL-S-MBLM M Reload only
123.9750NVReno (Stead)4SDL-S-MBLM M Reload only
123.9750UTSt. GeorgeSGUSBLM SEAT
125.8250UTTooele Valley, ErdaTVYSBLM SEAT
125.8250IDTwin FallsTWFL-S-MBLM M Reload only
123.9750NVWinnemuccaWMCSBLM SEAT

Northern Geographical Area Coordination Center
Frequency State Air Tanker Base FAA ID Aircraft Capability (1) Managing Agency & Notes (2)
123.9750MTBig Timber6SOSUSFS SEAT
123.9750MTBroadus00FSBLM SEAT
123.9750IDCoeur d'AleneCOEL-SUSFS
123.9750MTCostripM46SBLM SEAT
123.9750MTEkalaka97MSBLM SEAT
123.9750MTGlacier (Kalispell)GPI??? Status Unknown
123.9750IDGrangevilleS80SUSFS SEAT
123.9750MTHamilton6S5SUSFS SEAT
123.9750MTJordanJDNSBLM SEAT
123.9250MTLewistownLWTSBLM SEAT
123.9750MTMiles CityMLSSBLM SEAT
123.9750MTPlainsS34SUSFS SEAT
123.9750MTRonan7S0DBIA SEAT
123.9750MTWest YellowstoneWYSL-SUSFS

Northwest Geographical Area Coordination Center
Frequency State Air Tanker Base FAA ID Aircraft Capability (1) Managing Agency & Notes (2)
123.9750ORJohn DayGCDSUSFS
123.9750ORKlamath Falls (Kingsley Field)LMTL-S-MUSFS M Overnight (2)
123.9750ORLa GrandeLGDL-SUSFS
123.9750ORLakeview (Oregon)LKVSBLM SEAT
123.9750WAMoses LakeMWHL-S-M-VUSFS M-Overnight (2); V (1)
123.9750OROntario, OregonONOSBLM SEAT
123.9750ORPendletonPDTSUSFS SEAT
123.9750ORPrinevilleS39S??? SEAT Status?
123.9750ORPortland (Troutdale)TTDL-SUSFS
123.9750ORValeS49S??? SEAT Status?
123.9750WAWenatcheeEATSUSFS SEAT

Rocky Mountain Geographical Area Coordination Center
Frequency State Air Tanker Base FAA ID Aircraft Capability (1) Managing Agency & Notes (2)
123.9250COCanon City1V6SBLM SEAT
123.9750WYCasperCPRSBLM SEAT
123.9750COCortezCEZSBLM SEAT
123.9750CODurangoDROL-S-MUSFS M Reload only
122.2250CODenver (Jeffco)BJCL-S-MUSFS M Reload only
123.7250COFort Collins (Loveland)FNLSCSFS SEAT
123.9750COGrand JunctionGJTL-S-MBLM M Reload only
120.1250SDHot SpringsHSRSAgency Unknown SEAT
123.9750COKremmling20VSBLM SEAT
120.1250SDLemmonLEMSAgency Unknown SEAT
123.9750COMontroseMTJSBLM SEAT
120.1250SDPierrePIRSAgency Unknown SEAT
124.4250COPuebloPUBL-S-MUSFS M Reload only (1)
123.9750SDRapid CityRPDL-SUSFS
123.9750WYRawlinsRWLSBLM SEAT
123.9750WYWorlandWRLSBLM SEAT

CSFS=Colorado State Forest Service

Southern Geographical Area Coordination Center
Frequency State Air Tanker Base FAA ID Aircraft Capability (1) Managing Agency & Notes (2)
133.5000TNKnoxvilleTYS??USFS CWN
122.2250FLLake CityLCQL-SUSFS
120.8750FLOcalaOCFL-SUSFS Portable CWN
124.4250FLPunta GordaPGDUnkUnknown Agency Portable CWN

TFS=Texas (State of) Forest Service; NCFS=North Carolina (State of) Forest Service; CWN=Call When Needed

Southwest Geographical Area Coordination Center
Frequency State Air Tanker Base FAA ID Aircraft Capability (1) Managing Agency & Notes (2)
126.0750NMAlbuquerqueABQL-S-MUSFS M Overnight (2)
123.9750AZFort Huachuca (Libby, Sierra Vista)FHUL-SUSFS
123.9750AZKingmanIGMSBLM SEAT
123.9750AZPhoenix (Mesa Gateway)LWAL-S-MUSFS M Overnight (1)
123.9750AZPrescottPRCL-S-MUSFS M Reload only (1)
126.0750NMRoswell (Industrial)ROWL-S-MBLM M Reload only (1)
123.9750AZSaffordSADSBLM SEAT
126.0750NMSilver CitySVCL-SUSFS
123.9750AZWhiteriverE24SBIA SEAT

Federal Government Common

These are used for local tacticals in some areas, however they are common for the entire Federal government.

These frequencies are often used as tacticals, or commons, in National Parks.

See Federal Government Itinerant. As of January, 2008 the NTIA Redbook contained direction that 168.350 and 163.100 are to be used as a repeater pair, with 168.350 being the input and 163.100 being the output. This repeater pair is to be used for temporary, or itinerant, repeater placement. Simplex use is permitted if the four new federal common frequencies are already in use. Some agencies are now using the new commons in place of this repeater pair's frequencies. In spite of the direction there is widespread use of these two frequencies for simplex, tactical and travel purposes.

Government Common
Frequency Input Type Notes

  • (1) Often used as an incident heliport "deck frequency" for coordinating air traffic near and at tempoary incident heliports.
  • (2) This shows up as "Travel Net" on dozens of local and GACC channel plans in the western states.
  • (3) New federal simplex common frequencies allocated in 2005.

Intra-Crew Communications

Federal Agency Common Frequencies

Handheld use only.

Crews are encouraged to use Continuous Tone Coded Subaudible Squelch (CTCSS), or Network Access Code (NAC) while in digital operation, to reduce interference from other crews or other federal uses. This is not an exclusive assignment as these are VHF federal common frequencies and may be used by any agency at any time or location. These crew nets are to be used for crew logistics only and tactical communications are not allowed.

Frequency Type Description
163.7125MNational Intra-Crew Mobilization at Crew Base & Travel Net
167.1375MPrimary Intra-Crew Communications at Incident Scene
168.6125MSecondary Intra-Crew Communications at Incident Scene
173.6250MTertiary Intra-Crew Communications at Incident Scene

Intra-Squad Radio (ISR)

Family Radio Service (FRS) communications equipment shall not be used by anyone associated with federal wildland fire incidents or in instances that safeguard human life or property. This applies to agency, military, and contractor personnel. NTIA Manual, section 7.5.8, states: “federal entities may not purchase and operate FRS radios for planned communications operations that safeguard human life or property”. Additionally, the Departments of Agriculture and The Interior have policies limiting the use of FRS radios.

There is a viable option called Intra-Squad Radio (ISR). These radios are used by the United States Marine Corps (USMC) for tactical communications and the NIICD has been given authorization to operate on the frequencies.

Intra-Squad Radio Frequencies
Frequency Type Channel
396.87500MIntra-Squad Radio Channel 1
397.12500MIntra-Squad Radio Channel 2
397.17500MIntra-Squad Radio Channel 3
397.37500MIntra-Squad Radio Channel 4
397.42500MIntra-Squad Radio Channel 5
397.47500MIntra-Squad Radio Channel 6
397.55000MIntra-Squad Radio Channel 7
397.95000MIntra-Squad Radio Channel 8
398.05000MIntra-Squad Radio Channel 9
399.42500MIntra-Squad Radio Channel 10
399.47500MIntra-Squad Radio Channel 11
399.72500MIntra-Squad Radio Channel 12
399.92500MIntra-Squad Radio Channel 13
399.97500MIntra-Squad Radio Channel 14

Non-Federal Forest Firefighting Agencies

The following frequencies may be authorized to fixed, land and mobile stations operated by non-Federal forest firefighting agencies on a secondary non-interfereing basis.

See: NTIA Manual Chapter 4 US Footnotes US8 and 47CFR90.265(c)

West of the Mississippi River these frequencies are also used for air-to-ground and/or the local nets of National Forests.

Non-Federal Forest Firefighting
Frequency Type Description Notes
170.4750BMEast of Miss. River
171.4250BMEast of Miss. River
171.5750BMEast of Miss. River
172.2750BMEast of Miss. River(1)
170.4250BMWest of Miss. River
170.5750BMWest of Miss. River
171.4750BMWest of Miss. River(1)
172.2250BMWest of Miss. River
172.3750BMWest of Miss. River

  • (1) Frequency may also be used by non-federal conservation agencies for repeater operation only.

CTCSS Tones and NAC (Network Access Code - Digital P25)

Tone Number (1) Tone Frequency NAC (2) Notes

  • (1) The correlation between specific tones and tone labels shown is standard in California, but not necessarily in other areas of the country. See note (2) for additional information.
  • (2) An official correlation between tones and NAC does not exist nationwide, i.e. 110.9 = $455 in California, but might be $110, $001, $7G9 or any random NAC in other parts of the country, even within the same agency. The FIRESCOPE (FIrefighting RESources in California Oganized for Potential Emergencies, a fire agency/department "all risk incident" coordinating organization) tone list uses a CTCSS to NAC conversion table proposed when digital radio first came into use. The FCC did not choose to make the table mandatory, however, many fire agencies have chosen to use it
  • (3) Tones 1-8 are standard nationwide for the U.S. Forest Service. In some USFS regions these tones retain the same naming (e.g. Tone 1 is 110.9 hertz and Tone 8 is 103.5 hertz) and in other regions the tones are sorted differently. For example, in the Southwestern Region (R3) the tones (in hertz) are ordered numerically so they are labeled as: Tone 1 = 103.5, Tone 2 = 110.9, Tone 3 = 123.0, etc
  • (4) Tones 9-16 tones were added in California by FIRESCOPE in the mid 1990's.
  • (5) Beginning in 2014 FIRESCOPE added tones 17-32 to this list. If a radio only has a capacity of 16 tones, the first 16 are programmed into the radio. The widely used 16 channel per group Bendix-King radios have a capacity of 16 switchable tones.
  • As noted in (3) above tone use is not standardized at the federal or state level for wildland fire agencies or departments. This can be confusing, especially when fire or law enforcement personnel in one area of the country are sent to others areas of the country where the workload is peaking. Example fire prevention personnel in northern California are often sent to Arizona and New Mexico in April, May and June during the peak human caused fire season in the southwest U.S. Unless both mobile and handheld radios are cloned disparate tones have to be dealt with. Personnel and resources on large "national" incidents have their handheld radios cloned at the incident scene, so the need for standardization on these types of incidents is not as great. Agencies that border other states and/or regions making initial attacks across boundary lines can encounter difficulties when different tones and different tone labels are used. There is probably no better example of this than the BLM in Nevada. Tones used and how they are labeled differ among the 6 districts in that state.
  • Difficulties with disparate tones were encountered on the Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona, June 2013, where 19 members of the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew were killed. Communications during initial attack and when fires blowup are challenging enough without adding the disparate tone issue.
  • In many areas of the country the USFS, NPS, BLM and USFWS are migrating toward the 16 California standard tones listed here, even without national direction. At some point in the future national direction regarding tones might be forthcoming.

Related Links

Return to DB page: Natl Incident Radio Support Cache / Natl Interagency Fire Ctr
Return to Wiki pages: Common Frequencies, Common Public Safety, Federal/Non-Federal Interoperability, National Interagency Fire Center, United States Forest Service (CA)

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