Friday, May 29, 2015

RESPECT: Employ your subordinates in accordance with their capabilities.

Respect Employ your subordinates in accordance with their capabilities. - Observe human behavior as well as fire behavior. - Provide early warning to subordinates of tasks they will be responsible for. - Consider team experience, fatigue and physical limitations when accepting assignments.

  • Observe human behavior as well as fire behavior.
  • Provide early warning to subordinates of tasks they will be responsible for.
  • Consider team experience, fatigue and physical limitations when accepting assignments.
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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

DUTY: Develop your subordinates for the future.

Duty Develop your subordinates for the future. - Clearly state expectations. - Delegate tasks that you are not required to do personally. - Consider individual skill levels and developmental needs when assigning tasks.

  • Clearly state expectations.
  • Delegate tasks that you are not required to do personally.
  • Consider individual skill levels and developmental needs when assigning tasks.
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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

From the Field for the Field - Rookie Challenge

Peng Boi receiving leadership poster
(Photo credit: Allen Briggs)
Occasionally, members of the NWCG Leadership Subcommittee hand out posters. Recently, Pam McDonald shared a couple posters with Allen Briggs, South Zone FMO of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest in Utah. Allen only needed one poster, but Pam challenged him to share the gift with someone else--to pay the gift forward.

During their zone readiness review, Allen issued an impromptu “Rookie” 10 & 18 challenge among all of the new seasonal module members. Peng Boi from Squad 81 (center of photo) won this challenge and will display the poster in the Spanish Fork Station ready room.

Peng is a true success story, facing many challenges and overcoming many obstacles to become an employee. Way to go, Peng!

Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge
We challenge you to share your leadership development activities with others. What are you doing to promote leadership at the local level? Send your story and pictures to BLM_FA_Leadership_Feedback@blm.gov.

Monday, May 25, 2015

IGNITE: In Memory

The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example. –Benjamin Disraeli
The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example. – Benjamin Disraeli
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Friday, May 22, 2015

INTEGRITY: Set the example.

Integrity Set the example. - Share the hazards and hardships with your subordinates. - Don’t show discouragement when facing setbacks. - Choose the difficult right over the easy wrong.

  • Share the hazards and hardships with your subordinates.
  • Don’t show discouragement when facing setbacks.
  • Choose the difficult right over the easy wrong.
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Thursday, May 21, 2015

South Canyon SMEs Honored with Lead by Example Awards

South Canyon Subject Matter Experts
(Left to right: Kip Gray, Dan Olsen, Alex Robertson, Kevin Donham, Brian Scholz, Eric Hipke, Shane Olpin)
The NWCG Leadership Subcommittee is honored to announce the final recipients for the 2014 Paul Gleason Lead by Example Award. Dan Olsen, Deputy Director, Fire and Aviation for the US Forest Service presented the awards during the 2015 South Canyon Staff Ride. Our congratulations on a job well-done goes to the South Canyon Subject Matter Experts:

Kevin Donham
Kip Gray
Eric Hipke
Alex Robertson
Bryan Scholz

We share with you Dan Mallia's, Redding IHC Superintendent and Paul Cerda's, Alpine IHC Superintendent, powerful nomination. The words of the field are by far better than what we could have written.

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Describe the significance of the accomplishment made by the individual or group in the stated category.


For 12 years, the Redding IHC Leadership Development Program has traveled to the location of the South Canyon fire to conduct the Staff Ride for their crew. Over the years the Redding Hotshots have invited other crews, other federal, state, local, international fire and aviation management employees and Washington Office leadership to walk the ground where the Storm King Mountain tragedy took place. In that time, close to 900 people have been lead through the events of the day in conference groups, to glean information and develop slides that they can reference and avoid an outcome similar to South Canyon.

Bryan Scholz, Alex Robertson and Kip Gray, former Prineville Hotshots and Eric Hipke, former North Cascades smokejumper provide a firsthand recount of the events that unfolded on July, 6th 1994. Kevin Donham, fire staff on the Ochoco N.F. at the time of the tragedy relates a valuable and important side of South Canyon story which highlights the importance of programs like You Will Not Stand Alone and Taking Care of Our Own.

The South Canyon Staff Ride provides a strong learning experience. The dimension added by Alex, Brian, Kip, Eric and Kevin relating their experiences on the day of the tragedy creates an experience that participants will keep with them. Their presence makes a memorable impact on the participants of the Staff Ride.

The lessons learned by these first-hand accounts are forever branded in the minds and hearts of each staff ride participant. These subject matter experts (SMEs), share their thoughts, emotions and explain in great detail the events from their individual perspectives. These discussions are very raw, the amount of emotion and the openness from each SME is a clear path to connect with every staff ride participant including but not limited students and cadre members. The impact of this staff ride is not limited to agency, GS scale or red card qualifications. The impact and first-hand accounts have helped shape and change the trajectory of the fire service culture as we know it today.

The South Canyon fire and staff ride is recognized internationally as well, Eric Hipke’s video which was released to the wildland fire community last spring, is one of the most insightful training videos ever produced. The explanation of his perspective, what folks were doing, insight to tactics and strategies can be shared with generations of wildland firefighters now and into the future.


The most appreciated accomplishment contributed by this outstanding group of wildland fire leaders, is their commitment to setting the example of what a “learning organization” should reflect, their dedication to sharing their story with others and most importantly the dedication in honoring their fallen comrades.

Describe how the accomplishment supports the principles and values of the wildland leadership program.

It is important to note that the values listed above were not formally adopted by the wildland fire culture prior to this event. This event marked the beginning of the Wildland Fire Leadership Values and Principles and Leadership Development Program.

The South Canyon Fire is an event that forever changed and shaped the wildland fire service that we have come to know. The SMEs openness and candor in talking about the events on the South Canyon Fire gives the participants a more thorough and in depth understanding of the events of that day. They never waver, falter or dodge questions asked of them, no matter how difficult.

Duty - By telling their story and sharing their lessons learned, the SMEs foster an open and solid learning environment for the staff ride participants. They bring the past with them and encourage learning from it.

All the SMEs have taken it upon themselves to develop current and future fire management leaders by sharing their story. These staff ride participants may not be supervised directly by the SMEs or have any line authority over the firefighters who participate in this staff ride; however, their dedication to hike that hill every year sometimes twice a year to share their firsthand knowledge in chronological order of the events as they remember them is moving and a reflection of these fire professionals developing the community’s young leaders.

Respect - They pay homage every year to their friends and fellow firefighters who died in the line of duty. Sharing their experiences and respectfully passing on the significant history of the event, making certain that we never forget the sacrifices made on the hill that day. Building the team, their team or sphere of influence are all the folks whom have participated in the South Canyon Staff Ride during the span of 12 years.

Integrity - There are two definitions of integrity: one is being honest and having strong morals; the other is being whole and undivided. The SMEs exhibit moral courage by returning to South Canyon every year, telling their story and relating the terrible details of July 6, 1994. They exhibit integrity because they understand that they are speaking for all of the firefighters from the South Canyon fire. These SMEs set the example in their interactions with participants as well as set the example for others who may have experienced similar events so that the wildland fire community can continue learning from unintended outcomes.

Describe the scope of the accomplishment, considering the available resources.

The scope of accomplishment or impact to the fire service (structure and wildland) can be measured with every “right” decision made on the fire ground by fire service leaders who have taken something away from the South Canyon Fire and its staff ride.

The South Canyon Fire is one of the most impacting fires to the wildland fire community as well as to the communities along the western slope of Colorado. The lessons learned from this event have led to a cultural change within the wildland fire organization. The discussions lead by the SMEs listed above has had both direct and indirect positive impacts to the public, firefighters (inexperienced and experienced).

These life-changing events which took place on Storm King Mountain in early July of 1994 are remembered not by statistics on a website or by a date on a calendar. They are remembered every day wildland firefighters train, engage, disengage or ask their supervisors questions regarding LCES and risk management. It is the ancient tradition of oral history, wildland firefighting history that is passed down from these individuals who lived to tell the story and a way for us to remember the 14 firefighters who are not here today to share their version.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

RESPECT: Build the team.

Respect Build the team. - Conduct frequent debriefings with the team to identify lessons learned. - Recognize accomplishments and reward them appropriately. - Apply disciplinary measures equally.

  • Conduct frequent debriefings with the team to identify lessons learned.
  • Recognize accomplishments and reward them appropriately.
  • Apply disciplinary measures equally.
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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Twin Falls BLM Fire Crew Honored for Valor



Acting Assistant Director for National Conservation Lands Tim Murphy Valor (left) and BLM Deputy Director Linda Lance (right) with award recipients Camas Beames, Eric Killoy and Mackenzie Tiegs.
Acting Assistant Director for National Conservation Lands Tim Murphy Valor (left) and BLM Deputy Director Linda Lance (right) with award recipients Camas Beames, Eric Killoy and Mackenzie Tiegs.
Three Twin Falls District BLM firefighters traveled to Washington, D.C., last week to receive an award for valor and exceptional service to the nation as public servants at the 70th Department of the Interior Honor Awards Convocation. Engine Captain Eric Killoy of Heyburn, Engine Operator Camas Beames of Hazelton, firefighter and certified emergency medical technician Mackenzie Tiegs of Buhl, and firefighter and EMT trainee Dylan Forrester of Caldwell were recognized for their heroic actions last summer when they were the first to respond to a helicopter crash.
Click here to read the full story in the Times News on May 12, 2015.

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Reprinted from the BLM Daily, May 15, 2015.

Monday, May 18, 2015

DUTY: Ensure that tasks are understood, supervised, accomplished.

Duty Ensure that tasks are understood, supervised, accomplished. - Issue clear instructions. - Observe and assess actions in progress without micro-managing. - Use positive feedback to modify duties, tasks and assignments when appropriate.

  • Issue clear instructions.
  • Observe and assess actions in progress without micro-managing.
  • Use positive feedback to modify duties, tasks and assignments when appropriate.
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Friday, May 15, 2015

INTEGRITY: Seek responsibility and accept responsibility for your actions.

Integrity Seek responsibility and accept responsibility for your actions. - Accept full responsibility for and correct poor team performance. - Credit subordinates for good performance. - Keep your superiors informed of your actions.

  • Accept full responsibility for and correct poor team performance.
  • Credit subordinates for good performance.
  • Keep your superiors informed of your actions.
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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

RESPECT: Keep your subordinates informed.

Respect Keep your subordinates informed. - Provide accurate and timely briefings. - Give the reason (intent) for assignments and tasks. - Make yourself available to answer questions at appropriate times.

  • Provide accurate and timely briefings.
  • Give the reason (intent) for assignments and tasks.
  • Make yourself available to answer questions at appropriate times.
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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

From the Field for the Field - Inspiring Greatness through Good Leader's Intent

     A thin light-gray crescent Moon stretches diagonally from lower left to upper right against a black background, with a blue and white crescent Earth in the far distance. In front of the portion of the moon that is in shadow on the left appears a small image of the Apollo 13 Command/Service module joined to the Lunar Module, with vapor streaming from a hole in the side of the Service Module — the words "Houston, we have a problem" appear directly above the craft in white lower case lettering. The names of the principal actors appear in white lettering at the top of the image, and the title APOLLO 13 in block white upper-case letters appears at the lower right. More details A thin light-gray crescent Moon stretches diagonally from lower left to upper right against a black background, with a blue and white crescent Earth in the far distance. In front of the portion of the moon that is in shadow on the left appears a small image of the Apollo 13 Command/Service module joined to the Lunar Module, with vapor streaming from a hole in the side of the Service Module — the words "Houston, we have a problem" appear directly above the craft in white lower case lettering. The names of the principal actors appear in white lettering at the top of the image, and the title APOLLO 13 in block white upper-case letters appears at the lower right.
(Theatrical movie poster. Source: Imagine Entertainment and Universal Pictures via Wikipedia)
We challenged students of fire and leadership to share their practices with others in "From the Field for the field," and Washington State Department of Natural Resource - South Puget Sound Region responded. As part of their annual refresher, they incorporated leadership development into their program.

INSPIRING GREATNESS THROUGH GOOD LEADER'S INTENT

Audience: 
FFT2 to ICT2

Timeframe:
40 - 50 minutes

Factilator Action:
Show students David Marquet's "Greatness" speech (about 10 minutes) as a primer on intent and means of getting students into the leadership mindset.



Facilitator Statement: 
We're good at telling people what they can and can't do on and off the fireline. We do this in spite of the fact that each of our actions on a fire happen in a very dynamic environment and the plan doesn't always fit nicely into what we "can" do. That's the reason we have this concept of leader's intent.

Student Practice: 
  • Discuss the three parts of leader's intent: 
    • Task
    • Purpose
    • End state
Facilitator Statement:
The reason we have leader's intent is so our subordinates are able and willing to make decisions on their own while understanding and contributing to the overall objective. If they have the understanding of what needs to be accomplished and they have the technical ability to complete the task, then they should be empowered to make decisions that produce the desired outcome.

Unfortunately, we often spend too much time telling people HOW to do things instead. When the situations start changing, they become afraid to make decisions because the change is not something they have been told how to deal with. 

Leadership Challenge: 
Challenge students to think about leader's intent when they give out assignments on an incident.
Factilator Action:
  • Show students the following Apollo 13 clip (about 10 minutes):
    • Start: "Houston, we have a problem." 
    • End: After they move to the LEM and the scene switches to Johnny Carson on TV.
Student Practice:
    • While watching the Apollo 13 movie clip, use your IRPG to consider how leader's intent is used in the movie clip as well as how the leadership values (duty, respect, integrity) and their underlying principles are applied. 
    • After viewing the clip, discuss with other students what the students observed.
    Facilitator Action:
    Group discussions will vary. Consider asking conceptual questions to complement group discussion (about 20-30 minutes). Questions may include:
    • Who is in charge? Does that change? (Discussed if it's Lovell or Kranz before the incident, and how Kranz takes charge once the incident occurs.)
    • Who was empowered to make decisions? What happened when they did? (The decision by ECON to shut down the reactant valves and abort the moon landing generated the most discussion on this topic.)
    • When was trust and cohesion apparent? When was it not? What influences trust and cohesion and how do you change that? (Our emphasis here was about Swigert not being completely trusted yet despite being technically competent--a common challenge in our world when working with someone new on an incident.)
    • What values and principles did you observe and how were they applied? 
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    Thanks to Brian Looper (Fire Forester North, South Puget Region, WA State DNR) for this contribution. 

    Monday, May 11, 2015

    DUTY: Make sound and timely decisions.

    Duty Make sound and timely decisions. - Maintain situation awareness in order to anticipate needed actions. - Develop contingencies and consider consequences. - Improvise within the commander’s intent to handle a rapidly changing environment.

    • Maintain situation awareness in order to anticipate needed actions.
    • Develop contingencies and consider consequences.
    • Improvise within the commander’s intent to handle a rapidly changing environment.
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    Friday, May 8, 2015

    INTEGRITY: Know yourself and seek improvement.

    Integrity Know yourself and seek improvement. - Know the strengths/weaknesses in your character and skill level. - Ask questions of peers and supervisors. - Actively listen to feedback from subordinates.

    • Know the strengths/weaknesses in your character and skill level.
    • Ask questions of peers and supervisors.
    • Actively listen to feedback from subordinates.
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    Wednesday, May 6, 2015

    RESPECT: Know your subordinates and look out for their well-being.

    Respect Know your subordinates and look out for their well-being. - Put the safety of your subordinates above all other objectives. - Take care of your subordinate’s needs. - Resolve conflicts between individuals on the team.

    • Put the safety of your subordinates above all other objectives.
    • Take care of your subordinate’s needs.
    • Resolve conflicts between individuals on the team.

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    Tuesday, May 5, 2015

    Wildland Fire, Leadership, and Being a Jack of all Trades

    DSC01371
    As I was driving home from work the other day, mentally running through the events of the week, it dawned on me that over the course of my fire career I've had to acquire skills in a number of areas that I never really imagined I would.

    Of course I've picked up the obvious skills - running a chainsaw in the brush and falling hazard trees, driving on winding mountain roads, using and maintaining hand tools, navigating through wild country, camping in the wilderness, those sorts of things. But I've also had to get good at other things - contract administration, purchasing and business practices, radio programming, integrating new technology into old ways of doing business, and computer and IT tasks. I've become an amateur weather forecaster, landscaper, travel agent, fence-mender, and unskilled carpenter and metalworker, all while being a "wildland firefighter." As I ventured into aviation, I've had to learn how to be a risk manager, safety officer, and teacher, as well as a cargo-handling specialist and somewhat grumpy flight attendant. I really have become a "Jack of all trades" while wandering along the path in life I've chosen.

    I've had to draw upon a huge variety of sources to gain that knowledge - some I learned from mentors on the job, some I picked up through experience, gradually figuring out the best ways to go about a task, and some I was formally trained how to do. I've brought skills and knowledge from my personal life to play at work, and I've used working skills in my personal time.

    The longer I thought about it, the more obvious it became that this same "Jack of all trades" idea also applies to fire leadership. There is no single skill that makes a successful leader or follower, just as there's no single skill that makes a successful firefighter. In order to be a good leader, we need to draw upon knowledge and skills gleaned from a variety of places, not just one or two operational areas. I've personally found that leadership skills can be found just about anywhere - music (think of jazz improvisation, and how leaders and followers work together in a dynamic environment), business, sociology, the military, religious groups - the list really is wide open.

    I know that in my leadership journey I've become more aware of things like risk management, behavioral economics, resilience, and the physiology/psychology that drives decision-making. I've had to study strange topics and approach new ideas that are miles away from the fire behavior and suppression topics typically found in fire classes.

    While things like behavioral economics appear unrelated to the 10 & 18, LCES, and fire behavior calculations, they do come in pretty handy when trying to figure out what we as people will do when faced with situations where the 10 & 18 and LCES are important.

    And let's not forget, the "C" in LCES happens to involve quite a bit of human behavior if you stop and think about it. I know being aware of how and why others make decisions and communicate - or don't - has been helpful to me in the field. As happened in other aspects of my life, I've found that I've had to expand my knowledge and skill sets way beyond what I ever envisioned needing.

    I guess the take-home message to be found here is pretty simple, really: Never stop exploring, learning, and growing. In order to be the best firefighter, leader, and person that you can be, you really do need to be a Jack of all trades. Learn all that you can, and apply it in ways you might not have thought about before. I bet you'll be surprised by what happens - I know I have been.

    Until next time...
    ****************************************************************
    Justin Vernon is a regular contributor on our blog. Justin works for the United States Forest Service and is a member of the NWCG Leadership Subcommittee as steward of the Professional Reading Program. Check out his Chasing Fire blog. All expressions are those of the author.

    Monday, May 4, 2015

    DUTY: Be proficient in your job, both technically and as a leader.

    Respect Know your subordinates and look out for their well-being. - Put the safety of your subordinates above all other objectives. - Take care of your subordinate’s needs. - Resolve conflicts between individuals on the team.
    • Take charge when in charge.
    • Adhere to professional standard operating procedures.
    • Develop a plan to accomplish given objectives.
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    Friday, May 1, 2015

    The Art of Leadership

    Art supplies
    (Photo credit: Comstock)
    Art of Leadership

    Leaders deeply affect people and organizations, both positively and negatively. Accidental leaders, who have little interest or enthusiasm for leadership responsibilities or self-improvement, can inhibit people’s growth and reduce the effectiveness of their organizations. 

    Conversely, committed leaders, avid pupils of the art of leadership, can inspire others and make an enormous difference in people’s lives, on the results of the team, and in the progress of the organization. 

    Leonardo da Vinci
    (Photo credit: Photos.com)
    The art of leadership requires a constant interchange of theory and application. The art also includes being able to view the larger picture—discerning how to turn a weakness into a strength, gauging what is and is not within our control. Leaders constantly balance the known and unknown as well as danger and opportunity to find ways to gain the advantage. 

    Balancing wood blocks
    (Photo credit: Phil Ashley)

    Ultimately, the art of leadership requires successfully balancing many factors in the real world, based on the situation at hand, to achieve a successful outcome. 

    Occasionally, leaders may be required to provide authoritative, autocratic, tightly controlled direction that requires immediate obedience. But most of the time, leaders inspire, guide, and support their subordinates, gaining their commitment to the vision and mission and encouraging them, within established limits, to perform creatively.


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    Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge
    • Ask yourself the following questions:
      • Do you have the interest and enthusiasm for leadership responsibilities?
      • Are you making a difference in the lives of your people?
      • Are you a student of fire and leadership?
      • Can you turn a weakness into a strength?
      • Do you have the fortitude to be authoritative, autocratic or provide tightly controlled direction when needed?
      • Can you inspire, guide, and support your people?
    • Learn more about the art of leadership by immersing into Sun Tzu's The Art of War. Other resources include: