Friday, September 28, 2012

"A View from the Future"

On September 24, 2012, The U.S. Naval War College invited acclaimed futurist Edie Weiner speak to their students. They posted her lecture "A View from the Future" on YouTube for the public to enjoy.

Although a bit lengthy, this video is loaded with huge nuggets of information that challenge us to go beyond our "educated incapacity"--"knowing so much about what you already know that you are the last to be able to see the future for it differently." Weiner says we should look at things through the eyes of a child or alien (alien eyes). She gives huge insight into the past and glimpses into the future. She closes with a look at leadership and the obstacles that good leadership faces.

Take a moment to practice your critical thinking skills and listen to what she has to say. How can you lead for tomorrow today?

Edie Weiner is president of Weiner, Edrich, Brown, Inc., a leading futurist consulting group. Formed in 1977, WEB has served over 400 clients (corporate, academic, government) in identifying opportunities in the areas of marketing, product development, strategic planning, investments, human resources and public affairs. Clients have ranged from the U.S. Congress to many of the Fortune 500. She is acknowledged as one of the most influential practitioners of social, technological, political and economic intelligence-gathering. (

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

From Fires to Flood, Wildland Firefighters are There!

BLM Aids in Santa Clara Flood Relief 
by Rachel Tueller

Mike Dargatz and AFMO Terry Swinscoe distributed Gatorade to volunteers.

On Wednesday, September 12, 2012, residents of Washington County, Utah were shocked when monsoon rains resulted in a flood so severe that it caused more than 2.83 million dollars-worth of damage to the quiet neighboring community of Santa Clara. Flood waters that breached a nearby earthen dike resulted in the closure of area schools and caused damage to more than 61 homes and 16 businesses.

Chris Madrigal, Fuels Tech loading UTV
  The morning following the incident, the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM's) Arizona Strip District joined throngs of individual residents, private businesses and numerous agencies that poured into the community's Incident Command center by the hour to offer assistance. The city's Incident Commander directed BLM staff to a location at the Town Hall where surplus Gatorade from the 2012 fire season could be distributed to help relieve volunteers who'd been working late through the night and continued into the morning hours.

Michelle Petty, Fire Logistics 
Fire crews also offered the Incident Commander assistance through man-power which the IC eagerly and affirmatively responded to. The IC directed the small crew to a nearby neighborhood where they were able to assist a family whose business, a fully operational preschool, was located in the basement of their home. The home and business owner was relieved and excited to see a fire crew appear at her doorstep as she indicated that there were heavy objects located in the basement that she and other volunteers sorely needed help with. With a clear reddish brown mud line reaching five feet high in the basement, removing the items from the basement required a great deal of effort. More than 50 volunteers that included Dixie State College students, evacuated high school students, soldiers from the Army and Navy, fellow parishioners, and family, friends and neighbors worked steadily through the heat of the at the residential business. Volunteers were asked to haul items from the preschool out to the lawn so owner could sort, clean and/or dispose of the items. Each home in within the flood zone had crews of similar sizes assisting flood victims in mop up efforts.

Brad Danduran aiding flood victims in clean-up efforts. 

Members of the crew helping with clean-up efforts.
Santa Clara Mayor Rick Rosenburg toured the incident zone with officials from the NRCS, U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency in hopes that the agencies might rebuild the dike in Tuacahn Wash. A 40 foot high gap is now present in the dike which was compromised by the pressure from the large amount of water and debris that coursed down Tuacahn Wash in what officials are calling "more than a one hundred year flood." While no structures were completely lost, due to the extent and severity of the damages caused by the flood, officials anticipate relief efforts and volunteer assistance will be a continual need for several days.
This post is a reprint from The BLM Daily, an internal publication. Rachel Tueller is a Public Affairs Officer with the BLM Arizona Strip District.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Radio "Buzz" about Wildfire

The active fire season has set the radio airwaves "buzzing" with news stories. We follow them on our Facebook page when we find them or they are posted on our page, but I thought our blogger readers might like them. 

We feature an occasional post on Facebook called "What They are Saying." If you hear a radio broadcast or see a video post online, let us know so we can share with our readers. We try to offer a wide array of perspectives, so fire leaders can decide for themselves how they will or will not incorporate the information.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Drexel University's LeBow College of Business Steps Up

We are proud to announce an informal partnership with LeBow College of Business, under the guidance of Clinical Professor Dana D'Angelo, to support the Leadership in Cinema program. Students students enrolled in some of D'Angelo's leadership courses will assist in populating lesson plans to enhance the library. They may even bring a few new features to the program.

Check out their first product for the movie Moneyball.

If you would like to contribute to the program, contact us at

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Dream + BLM Leadership Support + Veterans = Vegas Valley Hand Crew

(Photo by Jennifer Smith: Vegas Valley Hand Crew)
A dream for an all-veteran fire and fuels crew became a reality in 2012. Tim Murphy, assistant director of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Fire and Aviation, sparked the idea that would benefit returning and discharged veterans as well as the BLM. The BLM Southern Nevada District Office (SNDO) fueled this spark and established the Vegas Valley Hand Crew.

The SNDO led the pack in pursuing and hiring veterans for wildland firefighting. Mel Meier, SNDO associate district manager, and Chris Delaney, acting district fire management officer, began the hiring, outreach and recruiting planning for veterans. They were also able to gain leadership support from the get-go from Amy Lueders, Nevada state director, and Rex McKnight, acting Nevada associate state director. The plan was submitted to the National Interagency Fire Center and upon approval by John Glenn, division chief of Fire Operations, the SNDO team headed out to put their plan in motion.

After a lot of recruiting and hiring, a 20-person hand crew was established and the crew began training on April 23. Eric Ellison, crew superintendent detailed from the Silver State Hotshots, and Porter McQueary, assistant superintendent detailed from the Alaska Smokejumpers, were able to procure personal protective equipment and supplies as well as train the rookie crew. Learning to fight wildland fire is a skill that is new to most veterans, while learning how to function and operate as a team is a skill most everyone on this crew has experience with. The amount of time and dedication required to undertake this type of career should not be underestimated. As with many other jobs and trades, this line of work is not for everyone, but with all the knowledge and experience brought to bear, this crew has been set up to not only succeed but to flourish.

(Photo by Jennifer Smith: Vegas Valley Hand Crew)
The Vegas Valley Hand Crew has assisted with various fuels projects and supported over 11 wildland fires throughout the West this season. As the Veteran Crew moves into the future, each action is becoming more routine and fine-tuned. As more experience and depth is created within the crew, each passing season becomes exponentially more successful and the opportunities endless. With each passing incident or project, the future of this program is opening the pathway to a great deal of possibilities. Matching a massive workforce with a new set of skills and careers will ensure that the true work of this nation can continue well into the future.

Southern Nevada took this challenge and opportunity to show everyone what this program could look like and represent. The BLM embraced the intent of not only providing an opportunity for the individuals on the crew, but the future of the program. Continued support and funding are not simply the right thing to do for the individuals currently on the crew, but for countless others departing our armed forces and seeking the opportunity to continue to make a difference.

A special thanks to Jennifer Smith, NIFC External Affairs and member of the NWCG Leadership Subcommittee, for this post!

Monday, September 17, 2012

"Fire Wars"

Fire leaders should know what people are saying about their organization. This is just one topic shaping our future. Decide for yourself how these perspectives and opinions influence your leadership in the fire environment.

The American Center for Democracy recently hosted a super panel discussion regarding economic warfare. Part of the panel discussion is available on YouTube. "Economic Warfare Super Panel" features William Scott (former editor, Aviation Week; former official, National Security Agency; and author Space Wars) presenting some sobering statistics and theories of pyro-terrorism as a current concern for fire managers.

The use of fire as a warfare technique is not new to the United States. U.S. Marines Major Robert A. Baird (presently Deputy Director, Fire and Aviation Management, US Forest Service) chronicled such history wrote his master's thesis "Pyro-terrorism - The Threat of Arson Induced Forest Fires as a Future Terrorist Weapon of Mass Destruction."

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Walking the Talk with AARs

Fire leaders walk the talk of the learning organization by scheduling routine debriefings to evaluate performance and apply the lessons learned. AARs maximize learning from every operation, training event, or task; they represent a powerful tool for team and organizational learning. AARs allow people to share honest opinions and learn from each other. Fire leaders make sure that debriefings focus on what instead of who; we use them to improve weaknesses and to sustain strengths. (Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, pp. 42-43)

(Photo credit: Trinity Ridge, Kari Greer/US Forest Service)
What is an After Action Review (AAR)?
An After Action Review (AAR) is a professional discussion of an event, focused on performance standards, that enables firefighters to discover for themselves what happened, why it happened, and how to sustain strengths and improve on weaknesses. It is a tool leaders and units can use to get maximum benefit from every incident or project.

Where Was the AAR Developed?
The AAR was developed by the military in order to create an avenue for feedback, promote evaluation and improve unit cohesion. The AAR is now used worldwide by military organizations, governments and private industry. It is considered a valuable tool in high-risk professions where the smallest mistakes can lead to disastrous results.

Why Conduct an AAR?
It is essential for wildland firefighters to learn from our mistakes and to capitalize on our successes. The price we pay for failure can be exceptionally high and the amount of effort put into our successes is often left unrecognized. The objective of the After Action Review is to immediately identify these success and failures. Once they have been recognized, further exploration allows the team to perfect it's skills and be better prepared for future endeavors.

What is the AAR Formats?
The wildland fire service recognizes four AAR formats (click for complete information):
AAR Resources
  • The Wildland Fire Leadership Development website has a wealth of information, including a link to an AAR training package developed cooperatively between the NWCG Leadership Subcommittee and the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center.
  • The AAR guidelines can be found on page xii in the IRPG.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Making a Difference – Beyond the Fireline

My work with the IGNITE the Spark for Leadership campaign has allowed me to get to know a lot of individuals—both within and outside the wildland fire service. Members of the Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program’s social network come from all over the world and from various aspects of life. Each has a story to tell, and I enjoy hearing about our Sparks’ journeys.

The piece of their stories that intrigues me the most is their leadership development beyond the fireline: the impact they make in their communities and within their family units.

Here are a couple of examples of making a difference beyond the fireline:

BLM and the Eugene School District

Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Individuals and teams throughout the nation support the Wildland Firefighter Foundation (WFF) by hosting fundraisers and supporting special events such as the WFF Family Fire Weekend.  For more information on how you can help and to see what others have done, visit the Wildland Firefighter Foundation website.

In Their Communities

Many of the stories I hear include leadership beyond day job. Many of our fire leaders and those followers claiming they can't lead are quite active in their communities. Here are a few activities where people are making a difference in their communities:
  • Church Leader
  • Home Owners Association President
  • Dog Rescuer
  • Cancer Research Patient
  • Youth Mentor
  • Volunteer
We would like to hear your stories. Share them here or on our Facebook page.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Mobile Technologies in Fire and Aviation Management

ViaSat at Pine Creek fire helibase. Satellite dish that is capable of providing high speed internet access in remote spike camp locations

Pine Creek fire, Poncin's Type 1: Keith Hackbarth (USFS - Bitterroot NF) & SITL - Paul Moore (MT DNRC)

Have you heard about the Mobile Technologies Integration into Fire and Aviation Management Project? Read about the project and how you can be a part of project and future of mobile technology. The information below was adapted from the Mobile Technology Group’s newly established MyFireCommunity website.

San Juan IHC personnel using the iPad app on burnout on the Sawmill Fire
The Mobile Technologies Integration into Fire and Aviation Management Project is a USFS national level effort providing a comprehensive and disciplined methodology to evaluate and promote the use of emerging, mobile technologies in Fire and Aviation Management operations and business priorities.

Fire and Aviation Management involves many stakeholders and is not agency specific. The importance of sharing and working across interagency lines is paramount. The intent of this website is to establish a conduit between all Fire and Aviation Management personnel and organizations to reduce duplication, increase information transfer, share lessons learned and ensure data cross-over.
Pine Creek fire, Poncin's Type 1, GISS - Mark Slaten (MT DNRC) & FOBS - Jeff Hayes (Lolo NF)

Fire Season 2012 Projects:
  • R5/R6 Incident Management Team iPad Pilot
  • R1 Incident Management Team and Application iPad Pilot
  • Operational Test Group and Personal Mobile Device Pilot
  • Rappel and IHC crew SEND Device (DeLorme InReach) testing 

San Juan IHC personnel using the iPad app on the Sawmill Fire
Use our Discussion Center and Library to:
  • Contribute to multiple web discussion forums on mobile technologies, share experiences and ask questions.
  • Post tips and tricks and help tutorials for technologies.
  • Recommend and find community rated applications helpful in fire and aviation management positions.
  • Stay up to date with new technology integration and promote innovation.
  • Request to be a member to post recommended applications on the private version of this neighborhood.
Discussion Center categories are:
  • Applications
  • Aviation Operations
  • Fireline Operations
  • Mobile Information Sharing and Transfer
  • Policy and Progress
  • Smartphone Discussions
  • Tablet Discussions
  • Mobile Technology Hardware
  • Mobile Technology Software
  • New Technology
  • Satellite Emergency Notification Devices
  • Training, Tutorials, Guides and Articles
Kings Peak Fire Management Module - Ashley NF, USFS
Other Things You Can Do:
  • Recommend an application that worked well for you by filling out the form on neighborhood home page.
  • Follow them them on Twitter @FAMMobileTech
  • Have ideas on what the Mobile Technologies Group should start working on? Fill out the proposal form located in the Neighborhood Library and email it to the contacts at the bottom of the form.
A special thanks to Esther Godson, member of the Mobile Technologies Group for this post suggestion and photos.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Coming Together As One in California

Unity of effort is a vital component of the wildland fire service's command philosophy. "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."

"California Wildfires: No Time to Burn" is a great example of unity of effort in California.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Bias for Action

A Bias for Action (Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, pp. 26-27)

Leaders in the wildland fire service are not only empowered but also duty-bound to act on a situation that is within our power to affect, even without direction from above.

This empowerment is not intended to encourage freelancing. In a high-risk environment, freelancing is a dangerous and unpredictable element, causing more harm than good. Ultimately, leaders are always accountable for their actions.

A bias for action acknowledges wildfire as an environment where events do not always go according to plan. At times during an incident, one person may be the only one in a position to see what needs to be done and to make it happen. Time may not permit informing the chain of command before an opportunity is lost.

In these time-critical situations, fire leaders use judgment, act within the intent of their leaders, work in unison with others, develop and communicate a plan, and then inform leaders of actions as soon as safely possible.

On a chaotic and rapidly developing wildfire, one person taking the initiative can make all the difference in seizing and taking advantage of an opportunity. Being hesitant, risk-averse, or indecisive can expose firefighters to greater long-term risks and translate into a waste of time, opportunity, energy, and money.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Adapting L-280 for Non-fire Personnel - A Success Story

Black Hills National Forest employees of the Northern Hills and Bearlodge Ranger Districts accepted a leadership challenge by taking time out for L-280, Followership to Leadership for Natural Resource Professionals. The two District Rangers, Steve Kozel and Rhonda O'Byrne, challenged their primary staff, actings and field leaders to participate in this new endeavor.

The Boise NIMO team's Steve Gage and Dan Kleinman, assisted the North Zone Fire Management staff of the Black Hills NF in delivering this wildland fire curriculum to non-fire personnel along with Rocky Mountain Region Branch Chief of Operations Kelly Kane and California's North Ops training officer Bob Bell. This experimental, non-traditional delivery to non-fire personnel proved to be a success. All comments and feedback from the after action review highlighted the importance and need for this type of training throughout the agency at all levels.

Congratulations to the employees of the Black Hills National Forest for accepting the leadership challenge.....keep up the good the work.

Randy Skelton - Division Chief
North Zone Fire Management
Black Hills National Forest
(Photo taken at the toxic barrel FLAC: Bonnie Jones - Recreation; Amy Haas - Silviculturist; Marty Pedersen - Range; Chris Stores - NEPA Planner; Rhonda O'Byrne - Northern Hills RD, District Ranger