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.

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