Serious Incident Notification Procedures

054 FW 1
FWM Number
Amended Date(s)
054 FW 1, 08/07/98; Director's Memorandum on Significant Incident Reporting, 05/13/05; and Office of Law Enforcement Memorandum on Procedures for Reporting Serious Incidents, 02/14/03
Originating Office
Emergency Management and Physical Security Program


See sections 1.7 and 1.8 for what and how to report.

1.1   What is the purpose of this chapter? This chapter:

A. Establishes U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) policy, procedures, and responsibilities for reporting serious incidents,

B. Provides direction for implementation of the Department of the Interior (Department) serious incident reporting requirements, and

C. Complies with other Service and Departmental policies for reporting accidents or serious incidents. Regional policies must not contradict this policy.

1.2 What is the objective of this chapter? Our objective is to develop and implement clear and concise instructions to ensure prompt and efficient reporting of serious incidents to the Service Directorate and the Department’s Interior Operations Center (IOC) as soon as practical after an incident.

1.3 What is the scope of this chapter? This chapter:

A. Applies to all Service employees; 

B. Covers the initial reporting of serious incidents only. We use these reports to notify the Service Directorate; and

C. Does not cover all reporting requirements, such as safety, hazardous materials release, etc. For more information about additional reporting requirements, review the policies we list in section 1.4B.

1.4 What are the authorities for this chapter?

A. The authorities for this chapter are:

(1) 446 DM 17, Serious Incident Reporting.

(2) 900 DM 4, Coordination of Emergency Incidents.

(3) 485 DM 7, Incident/Accident Reporting/Serious Accident Investigation.

B. Table 1-1 provides links to other relevant Departmental, Department of Homeland Security, and Service policies that include serious incident language.

Table 1-1: Other Relevant Departmental and Service Manual Chapters

240 FW 7Accident Investigation and Reporting
352 DM 6Aircraft Mishap Notification, Investigation and Reporting
330 FW 5 (now 330 FW 1)Aviation Safety and Mishap Prevention and Reporting
090 FW 2Emergency Management
HSPD 7Critical Infrastructure Identification, Prioritization, and Protection

1.5 What is a serious incident? A serious incident is a law enforcement incident, emergency condition, unusual event, or homeland security concern that could focus public interest on the Department or the Service or result in inquiries to the Secretary of the Interior or the Director.

1.6 Who is responsible for implementing this policy?

A. The Director:

(1) Approves Service policy for reporting serious incidents, and

(2) Ensures that the Service Duty Officer or their designee notifies the IOC according to the requirements in 446 DM 17. The IOC is responsible for notifying the Secretary of the Interior through the Office of Law Enforcement and Security.

B. The Assistant Directors and Regional Directors ensure that employees:

(1) Comply with this policy, and

(2) Receive training as it relates to this policy.

C. The Assistant Director – National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS):

(1) Implements Service policy for reporting serious incidents, and

(2) Coordinates with the Chief – Office of Law Enforcement to develop and update serious incident reporting policy.

D. The Chief – Office of Law Enforcement (OLE):

(1) Ensures that OLE employees comply with this policy, and

(2) Coordinates with the Assistant Director – NWRS to develop and update serious incident reporting policy.

E. The Chief, Division of Refuge Law Enforcement (DRLE):

(1) Has primary responsibility for ensuring that serious incidents are reported to the Director, other Service officials, respective Regional Law Enforcement Chiefs, and the IOC;

(2) Develops and revises procedures for reporting serious incidents;

(3) Supervises the Service Duty Officer(s); and

(4) Provides the Directorate with summary information about serious incidents.

F. The Service Duty Officer:

(1) Is a staff member of the DRLE;

(2) Monitors the National Serious Incident Reporting Line and receives incoming telephone calls from people reporting serious incidents;

(3) Notifies the Director, other Service officials, and the IOC about incidents in accordance with 446 DM 17;

(4) Assigns alternate staff to monitor the National Serious Incident Reporting Line and receive serious incident reports to ensure continuous (24 hour, 365 day/year) coverage; and

(5) Maintains and summarizes serious incident reports.

G. Project Leaders and Supervisors:

(1) Advise and coordinate activities related to serious incidents with appropriate personnel, such as their Refuge Law Enforcement Officer, Zone Officer, Area Special Agent, Regional Office Area Supervisor(s), or Assistant Regional Director of the involved program;

(2) Follow any additional Regional serious incident reporting policy or guidelines;

(3) Make sure that the serious incident has been reported to the Service Duty Officer, and if not, report it to the Service Duty Officer (see section 1.8A); and

(4) Ensure that employees are trained to understand what a serious incident is and what reporting requirement responsibilities exist in case they are involved in a serious incident.

H. Employees who are reporting a serious incident:

(1) Follow the telephone and written reporting requirements in section 1.8, and

(2) Notify their Project Leader or immediate supervisor about the incident.

1.7 What incidents do you report to the Service Duty Officer?

A. Serious Incidents Servicewide: Table 1-2 summarizes the types of serious incidents you must report (see section 1.8 for information on how and when).

Table 1-2: Serious Incidents to Report to the Service Duty Officer

Type of IncidentDescription
1. Employee death or serious injuryDeath, life-threatening injury, or hospitalization of an employee that occurs while performing official duties.
2. Other deathDeath of a person that occurs on Service property.
3. Criminal incidents

·     Terrorist threats or activity (including significant vandalism or hostile acts against people or property).

·     Theft or loss of explosives or explosives materials.

·     Threats to employees.

·     Assaults to employees.

·     Bomb threats.

·     Discharge of a firearm when associated with a crime against a person.

·     Demonstrations involving civil disobedience.

·     Hostage or barricade situations.

·     Detention facility incidents resulting in serious bodily injury or death.

·     Significant border incidents requiring the deployment of law enforcement personnel (see Table 1-4 for specifics about the Southwest Border).

·     Kidnappings.

·     Hate crimes involving violent acts.

·     Vehicle pursuits involving significant property damage, serious bodily injury, or death.

·     Suspicious people or packages where extraordinary action by law enforcement personnel is necessary.

·     Critical missing people or Amber Alerts.

·     Arsons of a significant nature.

·     Significant environmental crimes or Archeological Resource Protection Act (ARPA) violations on Service lands.

·     Crimes that might result in significant media or political attention.

·     Theft of aircraft from lands under the jurisdiction of the Service or theft of aircraft owned, operated, or under the operational control of the Service (regardless of who owns the land).

·     Theft of Service badges, credentials, uniforms, vehicles, license plates, or other official Service insignia.

·     Theft of Service-issued firearms.

·     Drug seizures meeting or exceeding the following thresholds:

     o   Methamphetamine (1 pound)

     o   Marijuana plants (1,000 plants)

     o   Processed marijuana (500 pounds)

     o   Cocaine (1 pound)

     o   Heroin (1 pound)

     o   LSD (100 doses)

     o   Psilocybin mushrooms (1 pound)

     o   “Club Drugs” (e.g., MDMA, Rohypnol, GHB, Ketamine) (100 doses)

4. Use of force incidents

·   Use of force by law enforcement personnel that results in the serious injury or death of a subject.

·   Physical application of an Electronic Control Device (ECD) (e.g., Taser®) to a subject.

·   Any police canine deployment where a bite occurs.

·   Any intentional discharge of a firearm by law enforcement personnel (excluding non-injury discharges during training, recreational shooting activities, and authorized administrative uses such as the dispatch of wildlife or nuisance animals).

·   Any unintentional discharge of a firearm by law enforcement personnel (excluding non-injury discharges during training).

5. Significant law enforcement eventsWhen deploying specially trained teams to augment normal Service law enforcement and security capabilities.
6. Significant search and rescue incidentsWhen they occur on lands under the jurisdiction of the Service.
7. Aircraft accidentsWhen they occur on lands under the jurisdiction of the Service or accidents involving aircraft owned, operated, or under the operational control of the Service (regardless of who owns the land). Also must report these incidents in accordance with 330 FW 5 (now in 330 FW 1 and its handbook), Aircraft Mishap Notification, Investigation, and Reporting.
8. Political incidentsWhen they involve political officials of Federal, State, or foreign governments or their immediate families and occur on lands under the jurisdiction of the Service.
9. Natural or human-caused disastersWhen they occur on lands under the jurisdiction of the Service and cause significant damage. This includes hazardous material spills. The threshold of property damage must be in accordance with 446 DM 17.
10. Loss of Service firearms, ECDs or law enforcement badges and credentialsAny loss of firearms, ECDs, or law enforcement badges and credentials.
11. Property damage of more than $100,000When it occurs on lands under the jurisdiction of the Service.
12. Incidents that could result in significant media interestWhen they occur on or are adjacent to lands under the jurisdiction of the Service.

B. Serious Incidents Affecting Homeland Security: Table 1-3 summarizes the types of incidents that may affect homeland security that you must report immediately.

Table 1-3: Serious Incidents Affecting Homeland Security

Type of IncidentDescription
1. Critical Infrastructure Protection

Information regarding vulnerabilities, surveillance, physical targeting, or cyber targeting of:

·   Major national monuments and icons,

·   Key resources, such as major dams or major oil/natural gas production and transmission infrastructure, and

·   Major public or private events taking place on Service lands.

2. Land and Maritime Borders

(see Table 1-4 for Southwest Border incidents)

Information regarding illegal cross-border activity (routes, methods, conveyances, and organizations) that impacts Service lands:

·   Human smuggling,

·   Drug smuggling, and

·   Smuggling weapons or other dangerous articles.

3. Terrorism

Information regarding terrorist(s); activists with terrorist intent; insurgent; or criminal element plans, intentions, activities, capabilities, or threats to attack any Service critical infrastructure or key resource, Service facility, or personnel, such as:

·   Indications of illegal entry into the United States by terrorists,

·   Suspicious activities that may indicate pre-operational planning or targeting of Service infrastructure, resources, facilities, or personnel,

·   Suspicious transportation conveyances operating in proximity to Service  infrastructure or resources,

·   Receiving direct or implied threats (e.g., phone calls, emails, etc.) to  infrastructure or resources, and

·   Information about the operations and tactics that terrorists may use to target infrastructure, resources, facilities, or personnel.

C. Serious Incidents on the Southwest Border: Except for the incidents listed in Table 1-4 below, when one of the incidents from Tables 1-2 and 1-3 occurs on the Southwest Border, you must report it immediately. Table 1-4 summarizes the types of incidents you have 3 business days to report if they occur on a station within 100 miles of the United States’ Southwest International Border. For these incidents only, you must submit a written incident report within 3 business days of the incident (see section 1.8B).

Table 1-4: Southwest Border Incident Reporting (3-day reporting requirement)

Type of IncidentDescription
1. Illegal cross-border activities

Information regarding illegal cross-border activity that crosses or impacts Service lands such as:

·   Human smuggling,

·   Vehicle pursuits,

·   Firearms or weapons discharged or seized,

·   Abandoned vehicles, and

·   Other unusual activity or significant damage to natural resources.

2. AssaultsAssaults on law enforcement officers (including officers from other agencies), employees, or visitors.
3. Threats·   Threats to law enforcement officers, employees, or visitors.
4. Drug Seizures or Arrests

When the value or amount exceeds a personal use standard.

·   Identify type, quantity, and value of the drugs.

·   Identify the quantity or value of cash, vehicles, firearms, or property related to the incident.

·   Identify citizenship of the arrestee(s).

·   Identify if it was a violent incident or if any threats occurred.

·   Include seizures and arrests conducted by other agencies, if available.

5. Border Fence BreachesAlso report pedestrian or vehicle barrier breaches.
6. Undocumented Alien Apprehensions

·   Report apprehensions other agencies conduct on Service land, if available.

·   Report deceased, undocumented aliens.

1.8 How do you report serious incidents?

A. Immediate Telephone Reports. Serious incidents described in Tables 1-2 and 1-3 must be reported by telephone to the Service Duty Officer within 1 hour of the incident, or as soon as possible after the incident, regardless of the day of the week or time of the day.

(1) Call the National Serious Incident Reporting Line at 1- 888-519-3606.

(2) Give your name and a telephone number where the Service Duty Officer can return the call.

(3) The Service Duty Officer will return the call within 20 minutes to obtain the incident details. The Duty Officer will also give you contact information for sending in the written incident report.

B. Written Reports. Within 48 hours of the incident, a written incident report must be sent to the Service Duty Officer.

(1) If the incident is a law enforcement matter, a Service law enforcement officer or other appropriate local law enforcement officer may write the report. For incidents involving drug seizures (see Table 1-2(3) and Table 1-4(4), the person writing the report must also complete the Department’s Drug Enforcement and Seizure Report and send it to the Service Duty Officer.

(2) Table 1-5 is a checklist of the information that must be in a written report.

Table 1-5: Serious Incident Written Report Requirements

 ·   Subject
 ·   Time and date of incident
 ·   Location of incident
 ·   Names of people involved (victim, witnesses, suspects)
 ·   Details of incident
 ·   Status of the incident
 ·   Other agencies involved/notified
 ·   Point of contact for additional information
 ·   Time and date of the telephone report

C. Updates to Initial Reports. Provide a written update to the Service Duty Officer as new or additional information becomes available.

1.9 To whom does the Service Duty Officer report incidents?

A. The Service Duty Officer notifies (using phone, fax, or email) the Service Director or other Service officials, as appropriate. Notification depends on the nature of the incident.

B. The Service Duty Officer also notifies the Department’s IOC, by calling 1-877-246-1373, or by emailing

C. As soon as the Service Duty Officer receives an Incident Report documenting the incident, the Service Duty Officer submits it to the IOC.

Attachments (Exhibits, Amendments, etc)

Amended by Decision Memorandum, “Approval of Revisions to ~350 Directives to Remove Gender-Specific Pronouns,” 6/22/2022