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Crew Leader

RFS Qualification: Crew Leader

Abreviation: CL


The Crew Leader (CL) program is targeted at persons with Advanced Firefighter (AF) competencies and an aptitude for leading crews. Crew Leader (CL) is the minimum standard needed for people to supervise crews.

Crew Leader (CL) is an internal RFS mainstream program for persons who supervise crews at incidents. It is designed to take a person with existing Advanced Firefighter (AF) competencies and enable them to lead a crew.
“Leading a crew” in this context includes being an Incident Controller of a small incident; or a crew leader, strike team leader or sector commander within a larger chain of command at a larger incident. It also includes smoothly controlling a rapidly expanding incident from the initial response until handing over control to a more senior officer.



The following unit/s of competency are aligned with this program:

National Code
Title of Unit of Competency
Suppress Wildfire
Covered by the Crew Leader Wildfire
(CLW) program
Supervise Response Covered by the Crew Leader Safety/ICS
or Supervision (CLS) program

Note: The Crew Leader Village (CLV) program covers parts of unit PUAFIR302A Suppress Urban Fire, but that unit can only be awarded if the applicant has also completed BAO and SFA certification, and their CLV training and assessment includes offensive interior structural firefighting scenarios.


Prerequisites & Co-requisites:

The following units of competency are prerequisites for the unit/s listed in section 4 above and for the CLV program:

National Code
Title of Unit of Competency
Respond to Wildfire
PUAFIR303A Suppress Wildfire (national equivalent to CLW) - Covered by RFS BF certification, but see first dot note below
Respond to isolated / remote
structure fire
Crew Leader Village (CLV) program– PUAFIR202A is covered by RFS VF certification
Suppress Wildfire PUAOPE001A Supervise Response (the national equivalent to CLS) - Covered by RFS CLW certification

Note: Within the RFS, all of the prerequisites for the CL program are met by:

- Having Advanced Firefighter (AF) certification. (Note: Some of the underpinning knowledge needed for PUAFIR303A is not covered until during AFP training, so having BF certification alone is not sufficient.)
- Completing the CLW program before the CLS program.
- Having Village Firefighter (VF) certification before commencing the CLV program.


Assessment and Certification:

The summative assessment for each applicant shall have three components:

- At least 5, and no more than 10, questions (either in oral or short written answer format) covering the theoretical subject matter of each of the CLW, CLV and CLS programs (i.e. a total of at least 15 and no more than 30 questions). Alternatively at least 10, and no more than 20, multiple choice questions for each program with a pass mark in the 70% to 80% range.

- A practical assessment for each of the three programs in which their performance is observed during at least three simulated scenarios for CLW and CLV and one major simulated scenario for CLS. The scenarios shall be plausible, safely simulated and cover a reasonable range of events.

- For the CLW program, the scenarios should include (1) a direct attack on a small bush or grass fire, (2) an indirect attack on a bush fire or a multiple vehicle attack on a large grass fire, and (3) property protection during a defensive operation.
- For the CLV program, the scenarios should include (1) combustibles in the open or a small shed fire, (2) a structure that is well alight, and (3) a vehicle fire or accident.
- For the CLS program, the scenario should include scaling up operations from the initial response to the hand over to a more senior officer at a large grass fire or bush/urban interface fire.

- Confirmation from trainers and officers who have observed the performance of applicants that
the specified performance requirements have been met and are applied consistently.

The practical assessment should be conducted when trainees have completed all the relevant learning and practice sessions, or may be integrated within the final practice sessions. A holistic approach to assessment should be used. The assessment should combine the related competencies in ways that they will need to be used at actual incidents. In particular, the applicant should show clear evidence that they can satisfy the following:

Performance Lead a crew of firefighters
Conditions In a typical range of bush or village-type scenarios, while acting as the incident controller of a small incident, or as the commander of a crew, strike team or sector within a larger incident, or while scaling an operation up from initial response to handover to a more senior officer, or while winding down
Standard Such that operations are conducted without injury, losses are minimised, operational objectives are achieved, activities are in accordance with the intent of the Incident Controller, and operations are conducted in accordance with the incident control system (ICS) and Fireground SOPs.



CL training shall consist of three programs: Crew Leader Wildfire (CLW), Crew Leader Village (CLV) and Crew Leader Safety/ICS (CLS). (Note: The next update of the CLS program will be retitled Crew Leader Supervision). CLS shall not be commenced until CLW has been completed. Each of the programs shall consist of two components:

A face-to-face component designed to impart the relevant underpinning knowledge and introduce trainees to tactics and incident ground leadership. This component should be completed before a person progresses onto the next component. In CLW the emphasis is on bush fire scenarios, in CLV it is on village scenarios (e.g. small structural and vehicle incidents) and in CLS it is on safety and the incident control system (ICS). This is normally conducted at a local District/Team/Zone level using local facilities, trainers and assessors.

Note: Distance education or e-learning may be used as alternative approaches to cover the underpinning knowledge component of the program, provided adequate learner support is made available (e.g. by phone/email) and that persons with limited literacy or numeracy skills can still effectively participate in the program.

Applying, developing and consolidating those competencies by practicing them during a specified series of learning activities (usually at brigade or local level), until the required standard is reached.

The face to face components are normally conducted at a local District/Team/Zone level within the RFS using local facilities, trainers, assessors and brigade officers.

The CLW program content shall include the following topics of underpinning knowledge:
- Role of the crew leader.
- Reiteration of bush fire characteristics, behaviour factors, hazards and precautions.
- Application of general priorities and principles to bush firefighting situations.
- Bush firefighting strategies, tactics and procedures – offensive and defensive.
- Selection of appropriate bush firefighting agents, equipment and techniques.
- Crew safety and welfare during bush firefighting.

The CLW program content shall include the following applied knowledge and skills:
- Reiteration of the anticipation, detection and control of hazards to firefighters and others.
- Reiteration of the safe use of bush firefighting tools and equipment.
- Reiteration of how to anticipate bush fire behaviour.
- Reiteration of map reading and navigation skills.
- Safe and effective implementation of fire attack strategies, back burning operations, control of
hot spots, mop up and patrol activities.

The CLV program content shall include the following topics of underpinning knowledge:
- Reiteration of procedures for reporting and recording details of incidents.
- Firefighting agents, their suitability for various classes of fire and application techniques.
- Characteristics and behaviour of village-type fires/incidents (i.e. common combustibles in the
open, small structure fires, vehicle incidents, fires and spills involving common flammable liquid
and gas fuels, incidents involving electricity and suspected hazmats (initial response only)).
- Safety hazards and precautions associated with village-type incidents, including the
appropriate use of personal protective clothing and equipment.
- Firefighting strategies and methods applicable to village-type incidents
- Reiteration of the safe use of village firefighting tools and equipment.
- Reiteration of working as a team at village-type incidents.

The CLV program content shall include the following applied knowledge and skills:
- Coordination of the practical safe use of firefighting equipment.
- Coordination of the appropriate application of various firefighting agents to fires/incidents.
- Coordination of firefighting support activities – e.g. ventilation and salvage.
- Coordination of appropriate firefighting priorities, strategies, tactics and techniques.

The CLS program content shall include the following topics of underpinning knowledge:
- Systems to identify and control hazards and errors during incident control activities.
- Incident Control System (ICS) principles and practices at crew leader level.
- The use of standard operating procedures (SOPs) and pre-incident plans (PIPs).
- Reiteration of map reading and navigation principles and practices.
- Team briefing, communication, and debriefing principles and practices.

The CLS program content shall include the following applied knowledge and skills:
- Risk assessment, and implementation and monitoring of safe work practices.
- Decision-making skills and crew resource management (Fire-CRM).
- Incident size-up, priorities and selection of strategies and tactics.
- Giving orders, briefings and debriefings, monitoring progress and modifying team actions.
- Team communication skills (e.g. inquiry, advocacy, listening, conflict resolution and critique).
- Reiteration of the use of communications equipment and procedures – as an initial responder
- when providing back up – and when operating out of area.
- Reiteration of incident response procedures and practices.
- Applying ICS – as a (small) Incident Controller, strike team leader and sector commander –
while scaling up from a small to a medium size firefighting operation – and while winding down
an operation.

Relevant safety aspects need to be covered before practical activities are undertaken.


Recognition of Prior Learning / Recognition Current Competence:

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) arrangements are as follows:

- Prior to commencing the program, each applicant should be advised of, and should consider the possibility of gaining certification through, recognition of prior learning (RPL).

- Next the applicant should check the likelihood of successful RPL by honestly answering the self-evaluation questions in the How to Become Qualified in CL Booklet.

- If those answers indicate RPL is likely to be successful, the applicant should compile the relevant evidence and seek RPL as indicated in the How to Become Qualified in CL Booklet.

- If those answers indicate that RPL is likely for part of the program, the applicant should speak with their trainer/assessor about possible exemption from that part of the program.

If those answers indicate that RPL is unlikely, they should participate in the full program.


Competency Maintenance:

- Shelf life - BF certification has an indefinite shelf life. However, challenge testing and/or refresher training may be required if the qualification has not been used for more than three years or there is evidence that current performance is not to the needed standard.

- Recent experience requirement – No requirements are specified, but it is recommended that BF competencies be practiced at least once a year, or more often with less experienced personel.


Crew Leader Modules:

Coming Soon!!!



Coming Soon!!!