Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thank You, Wildland Firefighters & Support Personnel


(Photo Credit, Kari Greer/US Forest Service)
Our "Leaving a Leadership Legacy" series this week is devoted to the wildland firefighter and those who support their brave efforts. As many of us prepare to take a break this Labor Day Weekend, remember our wildland brothers and sisters will endeavor to suppress the wildfires that have devastated America's public lands and forced many from their homes throughout the United States. The sacrifices and efforts of these individuals does not go unnoticed and is truly appreciated! THANK YOU!

Honor those you know who will be unable to share this Labor Day with you because they will be supporting wildland fire suppression by sharing their name as a comment.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Respect the Thorn

“Leaders create teams that engage in healthy conflict: enabling a dynamic exchange of ideas, the voicing of diverse viewpoints, and, ultimately, innovative solutions. “ (Leading in the Wildland Fire Service)

(Photo credit: AFH Comics)
If you are like me, nurturing the perfect rose is quite a feat. A month or so ago, I noticed that my rose bush was about to bloom. Upon close inspection, however, I found the bush was heavily infected with aphids. I grabbed my personal protective equipment (gloves and sunglasses) and my favorite clippers and went to task. In order to help the plant, I needed to remove unnecessary branches and sickened buds and apply an aphid treatment. As I grabbed my first stem, I realized knew I had to respect the thorns (technically, they are rose prickles). The bush's natural defense mechanism influenced my ability to act and eliminate the aphids.

Do the Thorns Help or Hinder Your Team?

The thorn plays a mixed role in the survival and overall health of the rose bush. On one hand, thorns provide vital protection; on the other hand, they present a barrier to outside help and influence. Similarly, fire leaders and followers act as “organizational thorns” within the leadership environment. Organizational thorns have the ability to positively or negatively influence situations and bring about consequences that affect the organization.

You’ve undoubtedly witnessed a few organizational thorns in action. They are the ones who openly defend—verbally or through silent opposition—their position. They often stand in the way of consensus and are referred to as “thorns in the side.” Granted, there are team members who may wish to sabotage the mission, but some organizational thorns have information the team needs to hear.

Margaret Heffernan shares her thoughts on the importance of “thinking partners who aren’t in echo chambers” in her YouTube talk "Dare to Disagree.” According to Heffernan, successful organizations should view conflict as a way of thinking. Members of thinking organizations must:
  • Find people who are very different from our selves.
  • Resist the neurobiological drive of choosing those mostly like ourselves.
  • Seek out those with different backgrounds, different disciplines, different ways of thinking, and different experiences and find ways to engage them.
  • Really care because engaging healthy conflict takes a lot of time and energy.
  • Be prepared to change our minds.


Back to the Rose Bush

Looking back at my rose bush analogy, I conclude:

  • Healthy organizations produce healthy leaders.
  • Unhealthy organizations need to remove the unnecessary and sickened elements.
  • Early recognition of a serious problem can save the organization from potential ruin.
  • Respect the organizational thorns that defend and protect; remove the ones that hinder growth and survival.

A Look at "Leading in the Wildland Fire Service"

Leadership Environment

Leadership is defined as the act of influencing people in order to achieve a result. The leadership environment is made up of those critical elements that a successful leader considers in planning for effective action.

The first element is you, the leader, who is ultimately responsible for all action and results.

The second element is your people, those that you are responsible for.

The third element, the situation, is comprised of the many unique variables that influence a leader’s decisions such as objectives, conditions, resources available, organizational influences, and others affected by the action.

The last element is the consequences—the short- and long-term effects of your actions.

The one predictable factor of the leadership environment is that any or all of the elements will change. A leader’s sphere of influence varies with any situation. Each person on every team is unique in behavior and personality; their motivations differ and change over time. The situation, be it the weather or the political context, changes. Missions always have different levels of risk.

Leaders constantly assess the elements of the leadership environment and adapt accordingly.

Successful leaders understand the interplay of these variables and demonstrate flexibility in selecting appropriate leadership tools and techniques as a situation changes.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Fighting Fear - Sue Exline & Frank Moshbacher

"To me, fear is driven by a lack of knowledge, communication, information. And I believe that we as people can deal with anything as long as we have facts to be able to make decisions." ~ Sue Exline 
Sue Exline and Frank Moshbacher were both born in Los Angeles, California, and have worked in natural resource management for over 30 years. During 1988, both worked as fire information officers, Frank with Rick Gale's Area Command Team in West Yellowstone and Sue with a Type I Incident Command Team on the Clover-Mist Fire that burned near the communities of Silver Gate and Cook City. They share their reflections with our public information officers and leaders on managing fear during a crisis.



Tips and Suggestions:
  • Assign roles to explain the facts.
  • It's okay to show vulnerability.
  • Show that you care.
Fireline Leadership Challenge:

Using the suggestions provided by Frank and Sue, discuss with your fire organization how you will deal with the fear and gossip that are the inevitable by-y-products of large fire events. Begin with these questions:
  • Are you prepared to quickly get the facts out to the public?
  • Have you thought through what a "transparent" decision making process might look like?
  • Do you have a plan in place, understood by all, of how to disseminate critical factual information?
Then, before an extraordinary fire event occurs on your unit, increase your resilience by practicing the process you have just developed. "Practice makes perfect."

_________________________

Thanks to the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center for this contribution.

Friday, August 24, 2012

George Washington - Behind the Leader

First in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen, he was second to none in the humble and endearing scenes of private life. Pious, just, humane, temperate and sincere—uniform, dignified and commanding—his example was as edifying to all around him as were the effects of that example lasting. . . . Correct throughout, vice shuddered in his presence and virtue always felt his fostering hand. The purity of his private character gave effulgence to his public virtues. . . . Such was the man for whom our nation mourns. ~ Major General Henry Lee, eulogy given on behalf of the nation, December 26, 1799
(Photo credit: George Washington Inn Blog)
As we have seen in this Leaving a Legacy series, George Washington was a very ambitious individual and leader. However, family and Mount Vernon were Washington's true passion.

Dr. Patricia Brady shares her thoughts about George Washington as a family man in The George Washington University’s discussion of “The Real George: Leadership and Character” (approximately 38 minutes into the presentation.)




Video highlights:
  • Washington's wife Martha was considered a partner.
    • He never pulled rank.
    • Their relationship was even.
    • Martha did what she wanted.
    • Open view that Martha had good sense and knew what she was doing.
    • Showed his respect for women.
    • Martha followed George into the field.
  • Washington was of utmost character. 
  • Washington's social life was that of a restrained Southern farmer/planter.
  • Washington loved learning and regretted that he was not formally educated.
    • Washington supported intellectual curiosity and supported the concept of a national university.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Putting Yourself Out There

(Photo credit: MrsProfessionalism.com)
The Hot Seat - Outside Our Comfort Zones

If you have participated in a tactical decision game (TDG), you know what it feels like to go outside your comfort zone and sit in the hot seat of decision-making in a simulated environment. You have "put yourself out there." Granted, you may have feared the criticism of your peers and facilitators, but the exercises were safe. A poor decision made during a sandtable exercise (STEX) can be erased with the swipe of a hand or a minor adjustment of the facilitator.

"TDGS provide a simple, adaptable, and effective method of repeatedly challenging a firefighter with tactical situations that include limitations of time and information. By requiring a decision regarding the situation and the ability to communicate it in the form of clear instructions, the firefighter will gain precious experience and skill in actual tactical decision-making.

There is no substitute for experience of the real thing, but it can be hard to come by and tragically unforgiving. Fortunately there exists a supplement to the school of hard knocks. Pattern recognition skills can be improved, and tactical decision-making can be practiced and refined. Tactical decision games (TDGS) are role-playing exercises designed to place individuals in some sort of decision space." (Taken from the "Design and Delivery of Tactical Decision Games" - TDGS/STEX Workbook.)

Beyond the TDGS

 As I mentor wildland fire leaders across the nation, I am amazed to see individuals with such "can-do" attitudes become less than when I suggest they move outside their comfort zones and appear on video, write a blog article, or become a Spark to ignite a passion for leadership in other students of fire.

Wildland fire leaders are a humbled mass when it comes to openly sharing our thoughts and feelings about the issues we face. Documenting and showcasing our leadership successes and mistakes has become a political hotbed, stifling the discussions that bring issues to light. We need confident, professional fire leaders who are willing to "put themselves out there" in order to grow the organization.

Hope is on the Horizon

Hope is on the horizon, however. Over the last couple years, I have seen groups like the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center (LLC) and our agency partners create a movement by showcasing wildland fire leaders and individuals stepping up to contribute to the Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program (WFLDP) through the blog and participation in IGNITE the Spark for Leadership initiatives. Here are links to a few efforts:

A Personal Reflection

The WFLDP blog was started on August 27, 2009. If you go back to our first posts, you will see our modest attempts to "put ourselves out there." If you look closely, the author of the posts was ghost writer WF Leader. Our blogger lacked the confidence to identify self and feared failure. However, a small group of L-580 participants and fire leaders under the leadership of Bill Molumby led by example by writing about their Gettysburg Staff Ride experience. They were willing to lead, but the effort lost traction and few followed. "Putting themselves out there" on the world wide web meant people would see their work and, heaven forbid, comment on their posts.

In January 2010, after much contemplation, I decided that if the L-580 group was willing to post their names, I would drop the ghost writer facade and post as myself. My posts were short and predominately reposts of other topics or posts I had collected along my leadership development journey. However, over time, I became more comfortable with writing and slowly fear of failure diminished enough that I would write more often and eventually set up a regular schedule for my contributions and began to mentor others to contribute as well. Dropping the cloak of anonymity opened me up to criticism. I realize not everyone agrees with my posts, but I do know that I have provided an example by which other wildland firefighters can follow.

For Cramer fans from the television show Seinfeld, I am "out there and loving it." If I can do it, so can you.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Be True to Your Core Beliefs: Britt Rosso

Brit Rosso, Center Manager for Wildland Fire Lessons Learned, discusses his career experiences and the lessons he has learned in nearly 30 years in the business. Brit talks about learning from mentors, being a mentor, and resources young firefighters can use to further develop their careers.



Video Highlights:
  • What factors contributed to Britt's success:
    • Good advice from previous supervisors and leaders.
    • Having a passion for the work he does.
    • Enjoying the work.
    • Getting to work with good people.
    • Having self-pride and true sense of accomplishment.
  • Advice for new employees:
    • Find a mentor who you respect, trust, and is open to communication.
      • Ask questions at the appropriate time.
      • Watch and learn.
      • "Download" as much information from them as you can.
  • Best career advice Britt received:
    • Choose your battles wisely. You can't solve all the problems out there.
    • Be yourself. Be true to your core beliefs.
  • Why pursue a career in wildland fire?
    • "Wildland fire isn't a job for everyone." Would recommend to those who:
      • Have a true sense of adventure
      • Are in good physical conditions
      • Enjoy the outdoors
      • Like working with others
    • Recommendations for those pursuing a career in wildland fire:
      • Do research: Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program and Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center.
      • Make personal contacts.
  • More than just a job:
    • People you get to work with.
    • Places you get to go.
    • Passion for sharing lessons he has learned with upcoming.
    • Mentoring others.
_________________________

Thanks to the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center for this contribution.


Friday, August 17, 2012

George Washington - Father of our Country

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This installment of our Leaving a Leadership Legacy focuses on George Washington as Founding Father and first President of the United States.

  • Washington set precedence for those who came after him followed.
  • Appointed four well-known men (economic expert Alexander Hamilton as Secretary of the Treasury, Thomas Jefferson as Secretary of State, Henry Knox as Secretary of War, Edmund Randolph as Attorney General), to help lead the new nation, establising the first Presidential Cabinet.
  • Supported plans to set up a National bank to help pay off federal and states debts incurred during the war. Compromised with Southern states who had already paid off their debts by agreeing to build the federal Capitol (Washington D.C.) in the South.
  • Rode into Pennsylvania with his army during the Whiskey Rebellion to show that armed rebellion in the new democracy would not be tolerated.
  • Washington was a man of peace. When France went to war with Britian, Washington issued a Proclamation of Neutrality.
  • Reluctantly served two terms and denied serving a third.
Another video "Fractured Union" (a 60-minute Windows Media Player video created with the generous support of the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate, Museum & Gardens and the Fairfax Network) provides an excellent view of George Washington's relationships with fellow Founding Fathers and why he was selected as the first President of the United States.

Additional Resources:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Looking Back - Moving Forward: Stu Hoyt

"Fire is not an emergency. Don't let the urgency of the situation drive your actions." ~ Stu Hoyt
The third production in the LLC's "Looking Back -- Moving Forward" video series features Stu Hoyt, Regional Fuels Specialist for the Northern Region, U.S. Forest Service. This video documents Stu's career and highlights his unique insights on leadership and leading through example. Stu also reflects on why fire is not the "Boogie Man."



General Video Highlights:
  • "Fire is not an emergency. Don't let the urgency of the situation drive your actions. There is no fire worth putting yourself at risk--in jeopardy."
  • As fire leaders grow and develop, priorities change: commitment to family (including subordinates), career aspirations, etc.
  • Stu wanted team members who could think and look around them--beyond  the task. He wanted them to be well-versed in  software applications, processes, and procedures. He wanted firefighters who were self-starters and who wanted to make things operate smoother than they had previously.
  • Fire provided Stu a good balance of physical activity and mental  challenge.
  • Use your mind. Don't let the fire push you around. Watch the subtle cues.
Lessons on Leadership:
  • Be grounded on the management side of fire. Get experience on how to keep the program going. (from mentor Lee Clark)
  • Take classes and learn from others.
  • Develop trust and credibility by leading through example.
  • Give your subordinates the trust to do things and allow them to have ownership in the program. Allow them to lead upwards.
  • Steer wayward actions back on course.
_________________________

Thanks to the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center for this contribution.

Monday, August 13, 2012

BLM Nevada's Veteran Hand Crews a Win for the BLM, Veterans, and DOI's Diversity Change Agent Program

You’ve probably read about the success of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) all-veteran hand crews, a pilot program of the BLM Fire and Aviation Directorate that began in Nevada and has spread to other states. But what you may not know is how Nevada’s Southern District office (SNDO) established the crew and what it took to make success possible.

The program began with the vision of Tim Murphy, Assistant Director of Fire and Aviation and a BLM Diversity Change Agent (DCA). Several years ago, Murphy joined the Department’s Diversity Change Agent Program, a Secretarial initiative created to foster a diverse, inclusive, and welcoming Department of the Interior. As a DCA, Murphy connected diversity recruitment and retention initiatives with the BLM’s ongoing hiring needs during fire season.

For Murphy, hiring veterans for hand crews was a win-win strategy for the BLM and veterans alike. The BLM could diversify its workforce while hiring military veterans who were well-equipped for the job. Veterans have the skills, discipline, team focus, and attention to safety that all critical in the dangerous work of firefighting. On the other hand, veterans could find immediate employment opportunities through the Veterans Hiring Authority (VRA) and other veterans hiring appointments.

But in October 2011, the SNDO wasn’t focused on increasing workforce diversity; they simply needed qualified firefighters for the upcoming fire season. As SNDO Associate Director Mel Meier and Acting District Fire Management Officer Chris Delaney discussed hiring needs, they considered the possibility of hiring veterans based on the success of the Veterans Green Corps and Tim Murphy’s ongoing recommendation - it made good business sense.

2011 Class of Department of the Interior Diversity Change Agents. Photo by BLM.
A Mind-Expanding Experience

In November 2011, Mel Meier attended the FranklinCovey DCA Training where she learned about the importance of a diverse workforce. She learned to: link diversity to business results; adjust to changing demographics; effectively challenge unproductive beliefs and stereotypes; recognize the value of each employee’s unique contribution; and lead and work effectively with diverse teams.

“Before the training,” Meier said, “I understood the business case for hiring veterans for crews.” On that last morning, however, she understood that hiring veterans was “the right thing to do.” With her new perspective and information about flexible hiring authorities, Meier returned to the office - ready to use the Veterans Hiring Authority (VRA) as a tool for filling mission-critical jobs in firefighting.

As Meier and Delaney further discussed outreach and recruitment ideas, Meier expressed her belief that the workforce should reflect the face of the public it served. It was an awareness that Meier gained during the training. “Funny,” Delaney responded, “Because on fire calls we’ve been talking to Tim about his big idea of hiring veteran hand crews.” She and Delaney finally realized that the winning recruitment equation was matching unique fire staffing needs with returning veterans – good business sense and the right thing to do.

The SNDO applied to host one of the crews, a decision that brought new challenges. The most obvious was: How do we do this?

Trail Blazing

Both Meier and Delaney knew that leadership support was essential to the program’s success. They first approached NV State Director Lueders and Rex McKnight, then Acting Associate State Director, with their proposal; both readily granted their support.

Next, they presented the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) with a solid business plan. John Glenn, Division Chief of Fire Operations, required them to justify their request. For example, NIFC felt strongly that crews should be stationed near fire project work. Meier and Delaney explained that their proposed fire station, Las Vegas, was home to many veterans’ resources and services: a Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital, affordable housing, and veterans out-processing centers that were in close proximity to the BLM’s Human Resources (HR) staff.

As they waited for NIFC’s approval, the SNDO team laid the ground work for the opportunity that they hoped would come.

They immersed themselves in details. They identified local career fairs. They visited military bases and learned about the discharge process. At the VA, they learned more about the VRA so that they could simplify it for applicants and hiring managers. Finally, the local BLM graphics department developed information packets, brochures, business cards, posters, and a YouTube recruitment message for the program. They were ready.

Once NIFC granted approval for the program, the SNDO fire team cheered, and in three teams, piled into their trucks and headed down the road. HR Assistant Primitivo Soltero, also a veteran, assisted with his connections and military knowledge.

In a single day at Camp Pendleton, one team made contact with over 500 veterans. Out of the thousands of applications and hundreds of veterans contacted, they interviewed 50 and selected 20.

BLM's Mel Meier and Chris Delaney recruit veterans at Camp Pendleton. Photo by BLM.
“It was overwhelming,” Delaney said, remembering looking out over a sea of faces at a vast, untapped workforce.

And it was exhilarating. “But I don’t think I’ve ever been that exhausted,” Meier said.

Some prospective applicants couldn’t believe anyone was interested in them. “I’ve been to all these job fairs,” one veteran said. “No one even looked at me.”

The Right Stuff

Just weeks later, the BLM welcomed the fire crew, with an understanding that the veteran employees have “the right stuff” for the job.

“Veterans have skills that fit well in a fire group,” said Mary Jo Rugwell, SNDO Manager.

Then Acting State Fire Management Officer Paul Petersen agreed. “Firefighting is like a military operation,” he said. “It involves a chain-of-command structure under stressful conditions in a dynamic environment.”

Team cohesion is also essential and is a concept veterans have relied on in combat. “They work effectively from the newest recruit to the most seasoned crew member.” Murphy said. “They watch out for each other and anticipate and recognize weak signals of possible failure.”

“As fire fighters they continue to put their lives on the line,” Delaney said. The fire culture echoes the military culture, which is to protect and serve in the face of danger.


BLM Southern Nevada District Office veteran hand crew. Photo by DOI.
 A Bright Future

Rugwell believes hand crews bring veterans the promise of a bright future. “It could be a good start for a career at BLM,” she said.

Petersen pointed out the many advantages. “Veterans have the GI bill. They can go up the fire ranks or be exposed to a variety of other career avenues.”

Veterans are hired as term employees with the hope they will convert to full time, which will open the door for other veterans. Thus, crews can serve as portals for veterans’ hiring and advancement.

In the meantime, these veterans see the fire crews as a good fit that facilitates their transition to civilian life with PT on the clock, benefits, training, and travel.

Lessons Learned

“So many people said it couldn’t be done,” Meier said as she recalled the many roadblocks and naysayers. But having developed good working relationships with other states proved valuable when a need for help occurred. For example, when they lacked the expensive servicing vehicles needed to carry the crew and equipment, another state with excess vehicles made them available on loan.

The program’s success was made possible by a committed multi-state team effort, leadership buy-in, and a solid recruitment strategy that provided the infrastructure support veterans needed.

Creating New Opportunities

The goal was to hire the right people for the right jobs. The diversity veterans brought with their widely varied backgrounds and skill sets was an unplanned benefit.

BLM’s first all-veteran hand crew in SNDO is an example of how organizational leadership and DCA insight meshed to create new opportunities to increase diversity in the work force. Meier acknowledged that being a DCA being changed her way of thinking and “took it to a different level.”

The SNDO uses the VRA for other hiring needs as well. “We’ve learned how to target our recruitment strategy to get the candidate pool we need,” Meier said.

The SNDO credits its success to the work of many, but it didn’t happen by focusing on numbers. It happened by seeing old problems with new eyes and by having a mindset that turned challenges into opportunities for BLM.

_______________________
Reprinted from "The BLM Daily" with permission from author Sharon Ribas, BLM DCA, National Office of Civil Rights/Equal Employment Opportunity.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Blackwater Fire Celebrates 75th Anniversary

The Clayton Gulch Memorial is on the ridge to the north and just above the gulch where the actual fatality site is located. This is the second memorial built in 1938 by the CCCs.

Background

The Blackwater fire was started by lightning on August 18, 1937, in the Blackwater drainage, Wapiti Ranger District, of the Shoshone National Forest. Three days later, the fire that initially appeared manageable would claim the lives of 15 men, injure 38 more, and scorch over 1,200 acres of the Shoshone National Forest.

The 15 firefighters lost on August 21, 1937 represented the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Bureau of Public Roads, and the Forest Service. They were Alfred G. Clayton, Rex A. Hale, Paul E. Tyrell, Billy Lea, Clyde Allen, Roy Bevens, Ambrocio Garza, John B. Gerdes, Will C. Griffith, Mack T. Mayabb, George E. Rodgers, James T. Saban, Ernest R. Seelke, Rubin Sherry, and William Whitlock.

Monuments and past events

On August 21, 1939, a ceremony was held to dedicate the Firefighter Memorial, located on U S Highway 14/16/20, and the Clayton Gulch Marker, constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

In August 1964, the Wyoming Business and Professional Women dedicated the Blackwater Memorial National Forest.

In 1979, the Forest Service designated Blackwater Trail as the Blackwater National Recreation Trail. The six-mile trail was used by the firefighters to access the Blackwater fire in 1937. The trail begins near the Firefighter Memorial and continues to the sites of the Clayton Gulch marker and the plaque at Post Point.

In October 1980, the Forest Service dedicated the Blackwater Pond picnic area, located just behind the Firefighter Memorial.

In July 1987, the Civilian Conservation Corps held a reunion and 50th anniversary rededication ceremony.

Activities commemorating the 75th anniversary of the fire
  • Friday, August 17- Wednesday, August 22, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
    • Archival materials from 1937 displayed at Wapiti Wayside
  • Sunday, August 19, 2012, 9:00 a.m. – approx. 4:00 p.m.
    • Hike to the Clayton Gulch memorial guided by Forest Service members. 
  •  Monday, August 20, 2012, 4:00 p.m.
    • Private picnic at the Wapiti Ranger Station to honor family members of 15 firefighters who lost their lives on August 21, 1937.
  • Tuesday, August 21, 2012, 10:00 a.m.
    • Ceremony and wreath laying commemorating the 75th anniversary, at the roadside Blackwater Firefighter Memorial
--------------------------
Thanks to the US Forest Service for this contribution.
Point of contact: Kristie Salzmann – work: 307.578.5190, cell: 307.250.0418, or klsalzmann@fs.fed.us
See the Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program Staff Ride Library for more information on the Blackwater fire.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Remembering the Blackwater Fire

The view looking back down from Post Point. This is where the majority of firefighters were trapped by the firestorm.
The Blackwater fire was 75 years ago. The knowledge and experience of how to fight wildland fires was very elementary at this time. Not only were communications done through hand written notes with runners, but logistical supplies were delivered via horse pack strings. Aerial delivered retardant, helicopter bucket drops, or sling loads were not invented yet. Finally, there was no LCES, 10 and 18’s or PPE. Most of the men wore jeans, a full brim felt hat, and cowboy boots.

August 20, 1937

  • The Blackwater fire started on August 18, 1937, as the result of lightning; it was detected from the Pahaska Tepee at East Yellowstone Entrance at 1535 hours on Friday, August 20, and passed on to District Ranger Charles Fifield at the Wapiti Ranger Station. Assistant Forest Supervisor Carl G. Krueger, who was conducting an aerial recon for a reported smoke in the Sunlight Basin, with Pilot Bill Monday spotted the fire at about the same time Pahaska made the report. At this time, the smoke was seen by Krueger, the column was moving straight up with little wind, and the fire appeared to have burned over only a couple of acres.
  • The temperature on August 20th was 85 degrees with a relative humidity of 16 percent. Under these conditions the smoke was rising vertically. The day has often been described as extremely “hot and dry, with the sun boiling down and no discernible winds.”
  • Ranger Fifield responded at 1600 with men from his CCC camp and arrived on scene at 1710 hours. The travel route consisted of 13 miles of highway, an old logging road, and unused trail; this made Ranger Fifield’s response time approximately 1-hour and 18 minutes, which is exceptionally good time. The point of origin was traced to a Sub-alpine Fir located on the west bank of Blackwater Creek approximately 3.8 miles from today’s highway memorial.
  • Foreman Bryan Sullivan and his crew of seven CCC’s were the first to arrive on the fire and begin work. By 2000, 58 CCC’s were on the line, with seven men supervising and forming the overhead. The fire was estimated to be about 200 acres at this time.
  • The fire was headed towards Coxcomb Peak in an almost pure stand of Douglas fir. The objectives at this time:
  1. Keep the fire from getting into the heavily timbered basin (one of the main forks of Blackwater Creek;
  2. Strike hard and swiftly.
  • Forest Supervisor Sieker arrived at the fire, after an 86-mile trip from Sunlight, at about 2000. Sieker and Fifield estimated the fire would not spread much during the night and enough line could be constructed to hold the fire to its present boundaries.
  • Two things were needed: men and equipment. Supervisor Sieker left to order additional men so that 150 men would be on the fire by daybreak.
  • On the night of August 20th, 65 men were divided and construction of line advanced around the flank of the fire from Blackwater Creek each way. During the night, the fire pump on the west sector held a dangerous section of line and prevented spread up Blackwater Creek.
August 21, 1937
  • Around midnight on the morning of August 21st, an unexpected wind, for short duration, caused Ranger Fifield to concentrate forces on the North side of the fire along Trail Ridge. By daylight, despite unfavorable weather, the line was still holding.
  • The shift change began along this ridge during the late morning of August 21st. Smoke was hanging in the drainage and the fire was backing down the north side of Trail Ridge. The Tensleep CCC relieved the Wapiti CCC Crew at around 1200. The Yellowstone CCC had arrived at 0230 that morning and continued to work. The BPR Crew had arrived at 1030 that morning and continued to work.
  • During the morning of August 21st the fire had a slight southwest wind which is a typical airflow over Wyoming’s Wind River and Absaroka Mountains. 
  • At noon, Assistant Forest Supervisor Krueger made an airplane reconnaissance of the fire, returned to the Cody office at 1330 and proceeded to the fire with the intention of relieving Ranger Fifield. Ranger Alfred G. Clayton, of the South Fork District of the Shoshone National Forest, had arrived at the fire camp at about noon. The forest supervisor decided to turn the fire over to Clayton and Krueger to permit himself and Fifield to secure some rest. 
  • At the time Krueger made his air reconnaissance, the fire was quite hot on the steep, Douglas-fir covered slope above the line being constructed northeastward from the Trail Ridge. The fire had spotted over into the headwaters of Blind Creek on the Elk Fork drainage. The fire was not making much progress at the time and the wind was quiet. 
  • The strategy was to anchor and flank the fire. Hose lays were used from the creek bottom up the southern edge (right flank). Trail Ridge was considered the northern edge (left flank) and was where crews were constructing handline while picking up spot fires as they went.
  • The objective at this time was to extend the control line towards the timberline while holding the existing line. Ranger Clayton and Ranger Urban J. Post from the Big Horn National Forest were selected for the advance line work because of their long firefighting experience. Ranger Post was assisted by Junior Forester Paul E. Tyrrell and Foreman James T. Saban (a former Forest Ranger with much firefighting experience) who was in charge of the Tensleep CCC’s.
  • Ranger Post and Tyrell took the lead and deployed his men with orders to push the fireline toward the rim rock above, while Saban brought up the rear with a group of enrollees carrying back pack hand pumps. Ranger Clayton followed to improve the line and catch any new spot fires. Ranger Post found nothing to cause him concern and expressed the fire would be well in hand in 3 or 4 hours. Post’s men got to work on the line at about 1515 hours. As the day progressed, the crews crossed Trail Ridge and dropped into the next gulch (now known as Clayton Gulch).
  • The relative humidity was 6% with a temperature of 90° down at camp.
  • The BPR and Tensleep CCC crews were cutting under slung line across the drainage. Ranger Clayton who had come up from behind the crew looking over the line was discussing the situation with Foreman Saban (Tensleep CCC) and Junior Assistant Hale (Wapiti CCC). Saban and Hale, with 5-6 men of the Tensleep enrollees, stopped and damned up the creek to fill backpack pumps.
  • As Ranger Post and his men gained the ridge to the north they noticed the smoke below Ranger Clayton and his group. Clayton also noticed the smoke and prepared to abandon line construction to attack the new smoke. Ranger Clayton and Ranger Post both noticed the spot fire, but had no way of communicating to one another.
  • The last word received from Ranger Alfred G. Clayton was a written note to Ranger Post: “Post, We are on the ridge in back of you and I am going across to “spot” in the hole. It looks like it can carry on over ridge east and south of you. If you can send any men please do so since there are only 8 of us here.” Clayton 
  • Sometime around 1530 the wind increased from the northeast blowing embers over the line and briefly subsided. When the wind began again it was associated with a frontal passage and blew strongly out of the northwest. The spot fire rapidly ran up drainage trapping Ranger Clayton and his men at the dam in the drainage. Whether Clayton and his men actually started down to the spot or not was never determined.
  • Shortly after Ranger Post received the note from Clayton, the wind began whipping back and forth fiercely driving the surface fires into the crowns. From Ranger Post’s position, he quickly realized the seriousness of the situation, pulling all his men; he proceeded to what he considered a safe place, since he was unable to return along the fireline to Trail Ridge.
  • BPR Foreman Bert Sullivan took the lead while Post and Tyrrell brought up the rear. The fire consumed the fuels above Post’s crew cutting off their escape to timberline, thus making Post Point the men’s best chance for survival. Five men panicked and ran downhill through the fire; of these five, only one survived. Post, Tyrrell, and Sullivan made every attempt to keep the men in place. Of the 37 who stayed at Post Point, only 3 would perish.
  • Paul Tyrrell knocked down some of the panicked men only to lie on top of them as a human shield to protect them from the “fiery blast”. A few days later, Paul’s severe burns took his life; he passed away at 1300 on August 26, 1937.
  • The fire rushed uphill from the “spot” in two waves. The group on the ridge top tried to move around to avoid the flame fronts, but there was little room on the ridge.
  • The final fire size was 1,700 acres and it took more than 400 CCC’s and miscellaneous forest officers for a total of 520 men to bring the fire under control.
  • David P. Godwin, Division of Fire Control, Washington – concluded:
    • The leadership on the fire was intelligent and protective of the men. It is evident that this fire was handled in a manner reflecting sound experience and knowledge…failure of the Tensleep crew to arrive earlier on Saturday probably contributed to the disaster.
    • David Godwin established the Parachute Project in 1939 at Winthrop, WA a mere two years following the Blackwater tragedy.
  • Fire behavior specialist A.A. Brown completed the fire behavior report for the Blackwater fire. Mr. Brown identifies the following factors as key to the “Blow Up”:
    • The ragged edge of the fire.
    • Under burning of surface fuels that pre-heated the canopy crown.
    • The heavy fuel model that the fire burned in – today’s fuel model 10.
    • Spot Fires
  • We can also add the following factors:
    • Frontal Passage - The most obvious, but overlooked due to the limited understanding of fire weather at the time was the passage of a dry cold front. The winds shifted from southwest to northwest and increased to 30 mph. Local firefighters expect and plan for winds due to the frequency/consistency of winds.
    • Drought - In addition, the long-term drought of the 1930 “dust bowl” years would have intensified by 1937 contributing to the explosive conditions.
    • Terrain - Finally, the orientation of the fire within the North Fork of the Shoshone River drainage could help funnel and increase wind speed over the fire area with the passage of the northwest cold front.
Fire Organization and Staffing

August 20, 1937:
  • Management Oversight - Shoshone N.F. Forest Supervisor John Sieker
  • Initial Attack Fire Boss -Wapiti District Ranger Charles E. Fifield
  • Resources:
    • Wapiti Camp CCC (F24) – 58 men (Crew Boss Glenn Hill with Foreman Bryan Sullivan)
    • Lake NPS CCC (YNP) – 54 men (Crew Boss Rogers with Forman Wolcott)
August 21, 1937:
  • Large Fire Fire Boss - Shoshone N.F. Assistant Forest Supervisor Carl G. Krueger
  • Sector Boss - South Fork District Ranger Alfred G. Clayton
  • Resources:
    • Bureau of Public Roads (BPR) - 9 Men (Bert Sullivian – Crewboss)
    • Tensleep CCC - 51 men (Crew Boss Urban J. Post with Foremen James Saban and Paul Tyrrell)
    • Deaver CCC (BR7) - 50 men (Crew Boss Sanzenbacher)
    • Lake NPS CCC (YNP) - 54 men split between flanks (Crew Boss Rogers with Forman Wolcott
    • Locals - 15 men at unknown locations
--------------------------
Thanks to the US Forest Service for this contribution.
Point of contact: Kristie Salzmann – work: 307.578.5190, cell: 307.250.0418, or klsalzmann@fs.fed.us
See the Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program Staff Ride Library for more information on the Blackwater fire.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Understanding Qualities and Behaviors of Wildland Fire Supervisors

Understanding that August is generally a busy time of the year for fire, I would not be asking for your time if I did not think that the results from this study could make a real difference for the trainings and safety of fire personnel. ~ Alexis Lewis
The mission of the Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program is "to promote cultural change in the work force and to emphasize the vital importance of leadership concepts in the wildland fire service by providing educational and leadership development opportunities." This mission is accomplished through various efforts, including research.

The following study by doctoral student and wildland firefighter Alexis Lewis is not funded by the NWCG Leadership Subcommittee (LSC); however, the LSC is aware of and endorses her research.


A Few Words from Alexis

My name is Alexis Lewis, and I am a PhD candidate at Oregon  State University in Exercise and Sport Psychology and have been a wildland firefighter for nine seasons. Based on some of my own, and others near misses/accidents and leadership experiences in fire I have developed a drive to build and enhance fire trainings and tools based on what firefighters have expressed is important. I have been conducting research on wildland firefighting leadership and decision-making performance since 2006; the current research is the result of the previous six years’ work and research with wildland firefighters to improve work engagement and safety. The attached flyer explains a little more about the study with my contact information; I would greatly appreciate your willingness to consider being a part of the study.


WHAT: 
Based on six years of previous research, we have consolidated an array of characteristics and behaviors of wildland fire leaders that were described by wildland fire personnel to be the most important in the wildland fire environment to a final set. In order to move forward and make use of this research and apply it to the development of wildland fire personnel, we are assessing how often these behaviors and qualities occur and if they are associated with two conceptual tools that could be used in trainings.

GOALS OF THIS RESEARCH:
  1. Assess 60 wildland fire "crews" (including engines, type 1 handcrews, type 2 handcrews, modules, fuels, and helitack) taken from both the supervisors' and crewmembers' perspectives for how often these leadership behaviors/qualities are enacted by the primary supervisor of the crew.
  2. Assess two conceptual tools with wildland fire supervisors' to see if/how they might be associated with the previously described leadership behaviors/qualities for possible future implementation in future training.
While we ARE assessing what has been described as important leadership behaviors/qualities, we are NOT evaluating leader/supervisor effectiveness in this study. We are trying to gain a better understanding of how these behaviors occur and if they are associated with potential training tools. The comparisons we make will occur across the compilation of crews who complete the surveys, not between a supervisor and his/her crewmembers of a particular crew.

WHY:
The results of this study will give us a direct guide to developing future wildland fire leadership trainings that are based on actual wildland firefighters' opinions and experiences.

WHO:
I am looking for "crew" supervisors who would consider, or are willing to fill-out a 15 minute survey based on their leadership, and allow their crewmembers to fill-out a 5 minute survey where they will assess how often they see their supervisor enact the previously described behaviors/qualities. Anonymity/Confidentiality: All answers on the surveys will be anonymous, and no individuals or crews will be identified in this survey.

COMPENSATION:
If 80% of each crew (including the supervisor) fills out the survey, a $25 donation will be made to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation; while not much alone, as a whole it could add up to nearly $1000 for the Foundation if all crews participate.

HOW:
If supervisors are willing we ask for their phone/email/Mailing address where we can contact them, and answer questions; We ask that the surveys be filled out and returned within two weeks of receiving them. Any interested supervisors please contact me (Alexis Lewis) at: lewisale@onid.orst.edu or at 541-215-3454.

George Washington – Revered and Love by His Subordinates

(Photo credit: John Trumbull. Wikipedia)
One of George Washington greatest aspirations--even at the age of 15--was to be commissioned by the Royal Army. Unable to attend schooling in England and lacking support from his mother to join the Royal Army, Washington's ambitious drive, character, mathematical abilities, and family connections led to a job as surveyor. He would amass much land, learned a lot about the expansion of the country, and became well-connected during the process.

On many occassions, Washington would dedicate himself to military service of his country. However, Washington is not known for his military successes. In fact, he lost more battles than he won. So why did leaders continually ask that he lead their troops and eventually become this nation's first President and commander and chief?

This following letter presented to Washington by his subordinates upon his retirement from military service may enlighten us:

Letters to Washington and Accompanying Papers. Published by the Society of the Colonial Dames of American. Edited by Stanislaus Murray Hamilton.
FORT LOUDOUN Decr. 31st. 1758
The humble Address of the Officers of the Virginia Regiment.

SIR,

We your most obedient and affectionate Officers, beg leave to express our great Concern, at the disagreeable News we have received of your Determination to resign the Command of that Corps, in which we have under you long served.

The happiness we have enjoy'd, and the Honor we have acquir'd, together with the mutual Regard that has always subsisted between you and your Officers, have implanted so sensible an Affection in the Minds of us all, that we cannot be silent on this critical Occasion.

In our earliest Infancy you took us under your Tuition, train'd us up in the Practice of that Discipline, which alone can constitute good Troops, from the punctual Observance of which you never suffer'd the least Deviation.

Your steady adherance to impartial Justice, your quick Discernment and invarable Regard to Merit, wisely intended to inculcate those genuine Sentiments, of true Honor and Passion for Glory, from which the great military Atcheivements have been deriv'd, first heighten'd our natural Emulation, and our Desire to excel. How much we improv'd by those Regulations, and your own Example, with what Alacrity we have hitherto discharg'd our Duty, with what Chearfulness we have encounter'd the several Toils, especially while under your particular Directions, we submit to yourself, and flatter ourselves, that we have in a great measure answer'd your Expectations.

Judge then, how sensibly we must be Affected with the loss of such an excellent Commander, such a sincere Friend, and so affable a Companion. How rare is it to find those amable Qualifications blended together in one Man? How great the Loss of such a Man? Adieu to that Superiority, which the Enemy have granted us over other Troops, and which even the Regulars and Provincials have done us the Honor publicly to acknowledge. Adieu to that strict Discipline and order, which you have always maintain'd! Adieu to that happy Union and Harmony, which has been our principal Cement!

It gives us an additional Sorrow, when we reflect, to find, our unhappy Country will receive a loss, no less irreparable, than ourselves. Where will it meet a Man so experienc'd in military Affairs? One so renown'd for Patriotism, Courage and Conduct? Who has so great knowledge of the Enemy we have to deal with? Who so well acquainted with their Situation & Strength? Who so much respected by the Soldiery? Who in short so able to support the military Character of Virginia?

Your approv'd Love to your King and Country, and your uncommon Perseverance in promoting the Honor and true Interest of the Service, convince us, that the most cogent Reasons only could induce you to quit it, Yet we with the greatest Deference, presume to entreat you to suspend those Thoughts for another Year, and to lead us on to assist in compleating the Glorious Work of extirpating our Enemies, towards which so considerable Advances have been already made. In you we place the most implicit Confidence. Your Presence only will cause a steady Firmness and Vigor to actuate in every Breast, despising the greatest Dangers, and thinking light of Toils and Hardships, while lead on by the Man we know and Love.

But if we must be so unhappy as to part, if the Exigencies of your Affairs force you to abandon Us, we beg it as our last Request that you will recommend some Person most capable to command, whose Military Knowledge, whose Honor, whose Conduct, and whose disinterested Principles we may depend upon.

Frankness, Sincerity, and a certain Openness of Soul, are the true Characteristics of an Officer, and we flatter ourselves that you do not think us capable of saying anything, contrary to the purest Dictates of our Minds. Fully persuaded of this, we beg Leave to assure you, that as you have hitherto been the actuating Soul of the whole Corps, we shall at all times pay the most invariable Regard to your Will and Pleasure, and will always be happy to demonstrate by our Actions, with how much Respect and Esteem we are,
... Sir.
... Your most affectionate
... & most obedt. humble Servants

Sources:

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Breaking Windows


broken window image
(Photo credit: Operation Clean Sweep)

“A window of opportunity is a brief period of time where it is particularly advantageous to do something. Often a window of opportunity closes quickly, meaning someone must take a decisive action at the time . . .” ~ WiseGeek.com


Two More Chains image
(Photo credit: Two More Chains website)

BREAKING WINDOWS
by Travis Dotson

Have you ever heard this during a firing operation: “Hustle up, the window is closing.”

What does that mean? I think I get it. We are trying to get through the window. Right? We are on this side and we want to be on that side. (Why are we trying to squeeze through a “window”? Apparently, “door of opportunity” just doesn’t sound as good.)

“A window of opportunity is a brief period of time where it is particularly advantageous to do something. Often a window of opportunity closes quickly, meaning someone must take a decisive action at the time…” informs WiseGeek.com.

Yes, we know the term “window.” We use it all the time. We also know about making sound and timely decisions and having a bias for action. How are we able to recognize windows of opportunity? We use Situation Awareness. So we have all the tools to recognize and take advantage of the right windows. So why do we end up in situations where the window is open and there is no action going on, and then—as it closes—we scramble around and do something?

That is the Window Closing
Have you ever been stuck waiting for someone to give the OK to put some fire down? And during the waiting there is not a lot of discussion about what exactly the plan is and how it will be carried out. And then when they finally pull the trigger, it’s an emergency and chaotic and you take more chances because you have fewer options? That is the window closing, and us breaking the glass to force our way through. And we get bruised, scraped, cut, and even killed doing it.

How do we avoid that, even if you are just a lowly holder or torch dragger? Well, when you look back on situations where you lost the window, how do you finish the sentence: “We should have…” We should have what? Been on the same page? Had a clearly defined trigger point? Known ahead of time what all of the terrain looked like? Had a briefing?

Get That Stuff Ironed OutYou have to get that stuff ironed out before the operation begins, however you can, or you’re right back in chaos mode. And chaos mode is dangerous. The answer is Leading Up.

This year, eleven wildland firefighters have already died. We have lost folks flying on a fire, driving on a fire, and PT’ing in preparation for a fire. We have already had multiple people get hit by trees resulting in fractured bones and other injuries. We have had multiple narrow escapes where equipment is abandoned and burned up.

Who knows how many unreported close calls have occurred. The window for us getting hurt seems to be constantly open. So, what do we do about that window?

Adapt this Question to Other Risky OperationsIt seems like sometimes we get so excited about an open window, we get all geared-up and jump through—without looking out of it first. It’s why we ask: “Is this flight necessary?” Meaning, just because we have a chance to fly, doesn’t mean we should. Maybe we should adapt that question to some of our other risky operations: Is this drive necessary? Is this tree felling necessary? Is this firing operation necessary?

I’m not trying to create a bias for inaction. I’m all about gettin’ after it when it’s time to get after it. I just don’t think we need to be getting smashed doing things that don’t need to be done.

Just know why you are being asked to carry out an operation, how it fits with the strategy, and look for the windows. The ones for getting it done—and the ones for getting smashed!

Dig on Tool Swingers.

_____________________________

Travis Dotson is a Fire Management Specialist with the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center and advisor to the NWCG Leadership Subcommittee.



Monday, August 6, 2012

Embrace the Unknown - Jim Cook

Former NWCG Leadership Subcommittee Chairman and USFS Training Projects Coordinator (retired), shares some great thoughts on his career and leadership  in wildland fire.



_________________________

Thanks to the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center for this contribution.

Friday, August 3, 2012

George Washington - Visionary Entrepreneur

(Photo credit: Mount Vernon Estate, Museum, and Gardens)

George Washington was a visonary and an entrepreneur. Although most of us know him for his military career, he had great passion for leading this country forward through agriculture, vision, and innovation. He gave his life to service and the development of a new nation, but his love of Mount Vernon and all that he could do to expand agriculture through technology (and make a few dollars) was a huge ethical dilemma he had every time America called.

As we discussed in previous weeks, Washington acquired a lot of land; however, many have called him "land rich, cash poor." Washington believed that those with the funds and ability to innovate should take the risk those less fortunate could not. He believed those able should create the blue print for the new nation--to show what right looks like.

I came across The George Washington University’s discussion of “The Real George: Leadership and Character.” Dennis Pogue shares his account of George Washington as an entrepreneur (about 19 minutes into the program; however, the whole video supports this blog series). Check it out below.

Another read about Washington as a visionary entrepreneur is Founding Father, Entrepreneur by John Berlau, February 12, 2009.
    • Washington developed Mt. Vernon from a floundering tobacco plantation to a multi-faceted agroindustrial enterprise: a fishery, meat processing facility, textile and weaving manufactory, distillery, gristmill, blacksmith shop, brickmaking kiln, cargo-carrying schooner, and grain.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

"Katrina - A Journey of Hope" (Free e-Book Download)

"Don’t rely solely on the government for help; take a leadership role in your family and prepare now." ~ Anthony Veltri


The images of the 2005 hurricane season will forever be etched in my mind. I sat spellbound watching national news feeds as Hurricane Katrina hit the deep south. My heart ached for those caught in its path. As the disaster unfolded, I witnessed a call to wildland firefighters to assist in response efforts. Little was said in the news about the wildland fire service's assistance in the effort, but those involved know the frustrations and success stories that were experienced during that response. We thank all those who participated in the response. Your courage to leadership during the crisis was not appreciated enough.

Katrina - A Journey of Hope (FREE KINDLE DOWNLOAD)

As a promotion to his new book, author Anthony Veltri, a former chief at the department of Homeland Security, will allow readers to download his book "Katrina - A Journey of Hope" on Kindle free of charge for 48 hours--August 3rd and 4th (updated from original publication).

"The book features large, high-quality photos to help tell the story and show the immense impact and destruction caused by the hurricane. Those interested in volunteering or having a career as an emergency responder will gain insight into what it’s like to go into a disaster area. Veltri says training and “developing a mindset” that can deal with disaster-type situations is key, and technology cannot replace the well-trained and mentally-conditioned emergency responder."

See the "Katrina - A Journey of Hope" website  for complete information about the free download opportunity. If you don't have a Kindle, the site tells you how to download the free Kindle Reader from Amazon.

In His Own Words


Other References

Come Together Right Now...

 
"The things that unite us run deeper than the things that divide us."
As we navigate the waters of uncertainty yet to come, unity of effort becomes a pivotal philosophy that can bring us together as a wildland fire service. With all the stresses placed upon our fire leaders, we all can learn a little from Chevrolet's touching commercial, "Things That Bring Us Together."*



Unity of Effort - Leading in the Wildland Fire Service (p. 15)

Our leaders subscribe to unity of effort as a second key component our command philosophy. In a high-risk environment, mixed messages or countermanding directives add to the potential for friction, danger, and uncertainty.

Many times at all levels of the wildland fire service, leaders find themselves in gray areas where jurisdictional lines blur and overlap. No matter the challenges at hand, fire leaders work together to find common ground and act in the best interests of those responding to the incident, the public, and our natural resources.

In these situations, leaders must employ multiple leadership skills to influence decisions, forge effective relationships, facilitate cooperative efforts, and ensure that objectives are achieved. The longer it takes to develop a unified effort, the greater the vacuum of leadership. Delays increase confusion, which in turn magnify the risk to our people and increase the likelihood that people will take unproductive or independent action without understanding the larger intent.

A unified leadership team sends a powerful message: when all leaders follow the same priorities and reinforce leader’s intent through consistent actions and words, our people develop a strong sense of trust for their leaders. It dispels the propensity to second-guess command decisions as subordinates recognize that the leadership team moves as one and is solidly in charge.

___________________________
* The video was used as a reference and is not intended to be an endorsement of Chevrolet.

Command Presence - Look Sharp, Act Sharp, Be Sharp

Command presence is how we present ourselves to others, the myriad of personal attributes and behaviors that communicates to others that we are worthy of their trust and respect. (Leading in the Wildland Fire  Service, p. 20)

Here is a great video created for law enforcement regarding command presence. Check it out and then take the Fireline Leadership Challenge below.




Fireline Leadership Challenge:

  • Create a short video like the one above for a wildland fire service audience. Be creative. If using music, abide by copyright laws.
  • Submit to the NWCG Leadership Subcommittee for consideration for use with the Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program.

Questions regarding this challenge can be made to:

Pam McDonald
NWCG Leadership Subcommittee Logistics Coordinator
3833 South Development Avenue
Boise, ID 83703
(208) 387-5318