Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Recovering from Adversity

Nothing speaks more about resiliency than picking yourself up and moving on after you have fallen. This inspirational video shows that we can recover from our adversities if we make the effort to do so.

Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge
Have you participated in this year's Wildland Fire Leadership Campaign - The Resilient Team? Take a moment today to work through or develop your own activities that focus on team or personal resiliency. Download the reference guide today! The campaign ends November 30, 2014.

2014 Wildland Fire Leadership Campaign

Monday, September 15, 2014

Food for Thought - Blind Obedience

"Blind obedience is detrimental to all and is a sign of not only poor leadership but also poor followership." ~ Steven R. (Randy) Watt

"Blind obedience is detrimental to all and is a sign of not only poor leadership but also poor followership." ~ Steven R. (Randy) Watt

Friday, September 12, 2014

Tuolumne Fire - September 12, 2004 - California

Eva Schicke
(Photo credit: Cal Fire)
Tuolumne Fire - September 12, 2004 - California
Incident Summary: The Tuolumne Fire is reported by a Stanislaus lookout at 1233 hours. Dispatch initiates a standard response, including the dispatch of a helicopter with helitack crew. 1259 Air Attack (ATGS) arrives over fire and reports fire to be between 5-10 acres, spreading up-slope and up-canyon with a steady 3-5mph wind. The fire is burning near the bottom of the Tuolumne River Canyon, just upstream of a major river confluence at 1450’ elevation in light, flashy fuels, predominantly oak leaf litter, light grass and mixed brush with an oak overstory consistent with Fuel Model 2. FDFM (Fine Dead Fuel Moisture) is 4-5% and live fuel moistures at critical stage. Temperature is 89-94, RH 18-24%, and there is no frontal or thunderstorm activity. The canyon is very steep, observed to be 80-120% slope. At approximately 1335 the helitack crew begins constructing downhill fireline. 10 minutes later they take emergency action when a sudden wind shift that causes a fire flare-up which overruns their position. Of the 7 person crew, 3 firefighters suffer minor injuries and one firefighter is killed.

1305 the helicopter arrives over the fire and drops the crew on a gravel bar 3/4 mile downstream of the fire. They hike from the LZ up-canyon to a dirt road that parallels the river and walk the road toward the right flank of the fire. The fire is burning both above and below the road. Their helicopter is directed to begin dropping water on right flank above the road.

A local Division Chief is dispatched to the fire to be IC and drives past the helitack crew to the right flank. He observes a slow backing fire and returns to the location of the helitack crew, who are still hiking. Talking with the helitack captain, he does not identify himself as IC, announce a strategy or specific tactics. He does state that he wants the crew to find a safe anchor point but the crew understands him to want them to “anchor this fire on the right flank, the road down to the river”.

1335 the crew arrives at the right flank on the road and looks for access to the river and safe access to the bottom of the fire.

ATGS and IC decide to continue to use the helicopter on the right flank above the road. The helitack captain hears this exchange on the radio.

ATGS receives a radio call about a spot fire and misses discussion about helitack crew working below the road. (In a post-incident interview, the ATGS will state that he thought the crew was above the road.)

After scouting down the right flank about 70 feet, it is decided to construct indirect fire line downhill for 250 - 300ft to the river burning out from the road as they go. Safety zones are identified as down to the river, up to the road or into the black. All crew members agree with the plan and inform their helicopter pilot.

An engine is assigned to support the helitack crew. The crew is not notified that the engine was assigned to support them and that it was close by.

1340 firefighters located about 30ft down the line from the road remark that the burn out is pulling in nicely. There is a “flutter” in the wind and the 3 firefighters closest to the road are told to grab backpack pumps just in case.

1345 a sudden wind shift causes the fire to flare- up, change direction, and overrun the crew. 30 seconds later one crew member is dead. No fire shelters are deployed.
Eva Schicke Memorial
(Photo credit: Cal Fire)
Lessons Learned Discussion Points

During size-up, what fire behavior did the personnel observe? If you were at a fire in a similar setting, what local terrain features and other factors might lead you to distrust the fire behavior seen?

It is common for people to have communication problems. On an incident where these issues can
easily compromise anyone’s life safety, what are you going to do to minimize communication errors… as a Crew member? Crew boss? Pilot? IC?

Your crew has been dispatched to this fire. How will you handle the “Lookout” aspect of LCES? It is common to hear that “everyone on the crew is a lookout”. Discuss what each person must do to make this an effective alternative to the “traditional” lookout.

This fire had an Air Attack and a helicopter. Discuss if and how aerial resources can be used as additional lookouts and sources of information. What are some downfalls to using them in this role?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Food for Thought - Chaos & Opportunity

"In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity." ~ Sun Tzu

"In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity." ~ Sun Tzu

SHARE throughout your networks to IGNITE the Spark for Leadership!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Success is a Continuous Journey

"Fire leaders trade the indulgences of complacency, second-guessing, and fault-finding for the responsibilities of bringing order out of chaos, improving our people, and building our organizations." ~ Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, p. 67.
As the statement says above, wildland firefighters do not indulge in complacency. Take a moment to reflect upon the leadership lessons embedded within this short TED Talk by Richard St. John on success. Although the talk focuses mainly on financial success, the model can easily be transferred to leadership in the wildland fire environment.

Video Takeaways
  • Success is not a one-way street. Once you achieve success, don't retreat to your comfort zone and stop doing what you did to get you there.
  • Work hard and push yourself.
  • Ask questions. Be curious. Listen. Observe. Problem solve. Make connections.
  • Focus on the task and people.
  • Follow your passion and do what you love.
  • Serve others.
  • Be persistent.
(Photo credit: Richard St. John's website)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Food for Thought - Everyone Wins

"Everyone wins when a leader gets better." ~ Bill Hybels
"Everyone wins when a leader gets better." ~ Bill Hybels 

SHARE throughout your networks if you agree.

A special shout out of thanks to Melissa Neill for permission to use this photo. © Melissa Neill

Friday, September 5, 2014

Are You Leading at the Speed of Change?

"The one predictable factor of the leadership environment is that any or all of the elements will change." ~ Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, p. 14
The "Did You Know" videos have been circulating around the web for years. Every few years a new version is produced. The reason for the speed are often attributed to advances in technology, longevity, and population increases as seen in the following video:

On his Serve to Lead blog, James Stock isn't so sure that the overall amount of change surpasses that of the generation born in the first decade of the 20th century. He does, however, lean towards such things as disruption of industries, the collaspe of authority, and the empowerment of the voiceless as contributors as accelerating dramatically. He warns the ways we live and lead must change as the magnitude of change occurs as the voiceless connect and gain their voice through technology.

"Are you leading at the speed of change?"

Digging Deeper

Our purpose in sharing this video with our audience is to promote discussion.

  • Are members of the wildland fire service embracing change and preparing for a new generation firefighter? 
  • What does that firefighter look like? 
  • What will our organization look like 5, 10, 25 years from now? Watch the video with your team and take a moment to dream about the future of our organization and discuss your reaction to the data.
  • How does the speed of technological change affect decision making? Are there pros? Cons?
  • Is your agency prepared for the data generation to be the bulk of their workforce? Will they stay longer than the average? How will this affect recruitment and retention? What are the impacts on leadership development and safety?
  • What opportunities exist for the wildland fire service? 
  • How can Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program students of fire provide for the greater good?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Food for Thought - Example

Example is not the main thing in influencing others; it is the only thing. ~ Albert Schweitzer

Example is not the main thing in influencing others; it is the only thing. ~ Albert Schweitzer

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Go Save Some Shoes!

"Don't wait until you make your first million to make a difference in somebody's like. If you have something to give, give it now." ~ Mark Bezos
No act is too small when it comes to leadership. Grace, kindness and humility are woven into the fabric of great leaders. Greatness does not have to come by valor acts. Often times, our greatest moments come from the smallest actions: a smile, a helping hand, listening, coaching, or our mere presence.

In his "A Life Lesson from a Volunteer Fireman" YouTube video, Mark Bezos states it best, "Not every day offers us an opportunity to save somebody's life, but every day offers us an opportunity to affect one--to get in the game. Save the shoes!"

Watch Mark's short presentation.

Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge: Leadership is ACTION
We challenge you and/or your team to go beyond self and do something for someone else. The task does not have to be great. Here are some ideas:

  • Mentor someone.
  • Give someone a copy of "Leading in the Wildland Fire Service."
  • Identify something that needs attention and take care of it; e.g., weed a flower bed, pick up trash, wash window.
  • Say "thank you."
  • Donate your time.
If you take the challenge, we want to hear about it. Send us a message or photo to BLM_FA_Leadership_Feedback@blm.gov.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Food for Thought - Happy Labor Day

"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." ~ Confucius

"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." ~ Confucius

We give a shout out to all those who find themselves working this Labor Day. We appreciate your service and wish you good rest soon.