During the shifts dominated by underpaid pain and undue stress, I derived honest comfort from the idea I was serving the community by performing essential acts of citizenship, privileged with the opportunity of accomplishing tasks I considered mostly worthwhile most of the time.
It’s important to remember that sharing a lesson doesn’t always have to be associated with an accident or close call.
When you read reports, don’t expect the lessons to be spoon-fed to you on paper. That’s not where the learning is. Learning comes from the intentional interaction you engage in after the reading.
The culmination of our crew’s training is the South Canyon Staff Ride. That’s where a lot of tremendous lessons are learned up on that hill during this Staff Ride experience.
I think that a community of people have to mutually agree and respect each other’s differences and have that painful conflict that comes with diversity. I think we can do that respectfully. We’re going to have to accomplish this sooner than later because, for lots of reasons, we’re getting to a place where it’s not sustainable to continue doing things the way that we have been.
It’s clear that our firefighters are spending more and more time away from their home units, engaged in difficult and extended fire assignments, and have very little time to also be responsible for implementing the needed prescribed fires back home . . . Every reason for not burning can be overcome when you have a workforce who is dedicated to getting it accomplished. This isn’t magic. It’s how all work gets done. You make it the priority duty for that work team or group of employees . . . In this way, we can start to reduce the risk to our future workforce.
Without realizing it, you might already be leading. Eventually you're going to have to deal with the behavior you've modeled.
Our fireline social structure is just a scrambled version of high school. But in this environment the consequences of that behavior are drastically more severe—like your buddy in a casket severe. Communication is essential. Be nice.
If we agree that our goal is to bring folks home unharmed, but we work in an inherently hazardous environment, what is the most effective messaging to ensure intent is understood and achievable?
We are not in control of the elements influencing fire, we are not in control of the other humans influencing our situation, and we are not even in control of our own perception of what the situation is. In spite of all this uncertainty, as we step into this dynamic and complex environment, we convince ourselves we are in control of our own safety.