Rich Wands

EMSI's Operations Manager, Rich Wands
Operations Manager

Retiring after over 35 years of incident management experience with the USDA Forest Service, Rich joined our EMSI cadre as a lead instructor and subject matter expert. During his Forest Service time, he served throughout the Pacific Southwest Region, Pacific Northwest Region, Southwest Region, and the Washington Office. Assignments in a variety of Fire Management positions throughout his career prepared him for becoming Director of the National Advanced Fire & Resource Institute, bringing a field perspective to the Institute’s training. Rich joined the Forest Service immediately following his honorable discharge from the U.S. Navy.

Serving in several incident management positions, Rich was a certified National Type I Incident Commander and led a Pacific Northwest Team for eight years. He was also a qualified Area Commander, serving in that capacity on several complex assignments. Major incidents during this period included wildland fires, hurricanes, flood recovery, pest eradications, and special events, as well as preparedness exercises for earthquakes, volcano eruptions, severe weather, and oil spills.
As Director of the National Advanced Fire & Resource Institute, Rich led a series of special projects dealing with the formation of a National Federal Training Strategy, development of the USDA Incident Command System Training Program, and the Quadrennial Fire and Fuels Review, as well as the design and construction of the new institute in Tucson, Arizona. He was also responsible for the development and delivery of a series of graduate and post graduate courses dealing with incident management; prescribed fires; and leadership and program management.

Since joining EMSI, Rich has maintained his position certifications and qualifications by continuing to respond to major incidents involving wildland fires, hurricanes, oil spills and special event preparations. He responded to Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma and was deployed to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill at the Houma Incident Command Post and New Orleans Area Command Post. As an ICS Advisor, Rich has also worked on several incidents and during exercises for Spills of National Significance.

Rich is a recognized national and international incident management expert. Over the last several years, Rich has presented multiple All Hazards ICS Courses to a wide range of audiences from all levels of government, the private sector, and the international community, comprising a broad spectrum of response disciplines. He has developed and instructed courses for the U.S. Coast Guard, Department of Energy, Department of Defense, Department of Agriculture, FEMA, EPA, and the National Fire Academy, as well as our private industry clients world-wide. He is a certified instructor for the U.S. Coast Guard, Emergency Management Institute, and National Fire Academy, and holds ICS qualifications as a Type 1 Incident Commander, Type 1 Planning Section Chief, Area Commander, Assistant Area Commander for Planning, and Assistant Area Commander for Logistics.