As our work on the 2017 Annual Incident Review Summary continues, we’ve got some more analysis to share with you. Read this. Do the Exercise, and give us some feedback. The final version of the 2017 Annual Incident Review Summary will be out soon!
By Travis Dotson
We love to know how many firefighters died. It’s the only number anyone has ever frantically demanded of the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center – all other numbers inspire no urgency.
Why do we want to know? What is this morbid fascination? Is it morbid?
The highly esteemed Urban Dictionary has a definition for the term “Fatal Attraction” –
“An attraction between an individual and someone/something that is so strong, the individual lacks reason and logic in their thinking when dealing with their attraction.”
Does our fascination with firefighter fatalities fit this description? Do we lack reason and logic when dealing with our attraction? The most basic line of thinking goes something like this – if we pay attention to dead firefighters there will be fewer dead firefighters in the future. That feels reasonable, but is it?
Here are the basics from 2017.
2017 Wildland Firefighter Fatalities
Vehicle Accident: 4
Medical Emergency: 3
Hit by Tree: 3
Hit by Straw: 1
Chainsaw Cut: 1
How will you use logic and reason when thinking about this topic?
Is this year any different? Here are the numbers from the past ten years:
We can go past ten years as well. The average number of fatalities over the past 30 years is just under 17. In case you are wondering, that’s 500 deaths since 1988.
I don’t know – and I’m the analyst at the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center.
What if we just thought about how we talk about Line of Duty Death?
Gather up with your fellow risk-takers and do this:
Exercise (30 minutes)
Part 1 (5 mins)
- Individually list as many “sayings” as you can about Line of Duty Deaths – for example, “we haven’t found any new ways to kill firefighters” or “all our lessons are written in blood.”
Part 2 (25 mins)
- Take turns saying one to the larger group. Discuss what these sayings really communicate.
- Are they true?
- Are they useful?
I have no idea if that exercise includes any logic or reason, but it does get us to examine the words we use and why.
Maybe we should try changing our words – or at least know exactly why we say them.