Thursday, June 22, 2017

IGNITE: Take Care of Your People

Always take care of the people who are trying to make you look good (make it as easy as possible for them to do so). – Unknown
Always take care of the people who are trying to make you look good (make it as easy as possible for them to do so). – Unknown
[Photo: Ada County Sheriff’s Office, Mile Marker 14 Fire (2016)]

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Leadership is Action - "You Can't Force Leadership"


Bumble bee in flowering tree
It is of this writer’s belief that one can’t force leadership. We can just plant the seed. Your flower will blossom when it is ready. Flowers bloom all the time.

Living and working in Washington, D.C., for a few months made me think more about our country and our history. I have stared at the White House; I have visited the memorials, I have walked the bridges and can hardly fathom receiving a letter from the President or crossing over the Potomac by foot or by riding a horse. The Civil War and the Battle of Gettysburg resonates with me more now than ever, the history of this great city, the architecture on the buildings, the lay-out of the streets, the many circles; originally planned out to confuse the enemy, now confusing mostly tourists, including myself. I study the map of the city wanting to figure out the madness behind the design. Walking around makes me think about how lucky I am to have the basic necessities of life: good health, clothes, food and shelter. Many battles have been lost for us to live in this great country. A Blackhawk helicopter flies overhead as I walk on the Washington Memorial Bridge. I stop to watch the helicopter. Freedom, it is here from the loss of others. I look at the Potomac, the water flows swiftly, I think about the troops who had to cross over the Potomac River to protect Washington, D. C., from the Army of Northern Virginia. With their sacrifice and many others, I stand here today, free.

On driving to Emmitsburg for the National Fallen Firefighter Memorial, one couldn’t help but to think about our fallen firefighters, and then again Gettysburg and the battles of our past. This area is rich in our history. Looking out the window one thought about the placement of the troops only days before the engagement (June 24th - 28th 1863), Stuart clashed with Hancock just West of Centreville and then captured 125 supply wagons just North of Rockville. Troops were hungry and weary but continued to make movement in and around these valleys and hills now used for highways, shopping malls, Starbucks, fast food places, “Metro stops”, etc., all filled with people hurrying to the next location, engulfed in rushing from point A to point B. This makes me think about movement; movement how it has changed over time. Staring out the window, comfortable and grateful, I think about life’s lessons and leadership; life changes all the time, but has leadership changed over time?

By AgnosticPreachersKid, via Wikimedia Commons
Staring at the White House brings a chill to my body. I wonder how George Meade felt when he received a letter from the President Lincoln commanding him as the Commander for the Army of the Potomac. I think about leaders of the past, leaders of the present. I think about the friction between the government, from the past and still today. Will the leaders of this great country ever unite? Is the leadership skills being present today the same as they were in the past? Is leadership being able to deal with the changes and challenges of life? I think so. I reflect on those who have given me the chance to work on this assignment, to learn, to lead and to follow. I am honored to have had this opportunity. I am honored to work for the federal government.

General Longstreet
(Public domain - U.S.; Wikimedia Commons)
While this writer doesn’t believe the fundamental traits of leadership have changed, one believes that we can all develop our leadership traits to the best level of our desire. Developing leadership traits is building the vision, seeing the path, knowing when to execute, knowing when to follow and knowing how to communicate effectively. On July 3rd, Longstreet tells his commander
(Public domain - U.S.; Wikimedia Commons)
General Lee that he doesn’t think the plan will work; Longstreet is displaying great leadership in voicing his opinion about high levels of concern. This is a good example for our fire organization to follow. Speak up in a polite manner to voice your concerns. Too often we are hesitant to voice our concerns. Worried about the outcome, we shy away from speaking up. Enable your leadership skills and speak up when necessary. Even after the Battle of Gettysburg was over, Buford, one of the great leaders of this time, voices his opinion about being worn out and disgusted from the war, wishing to be relieved from the Army of the Potomac. Sometimes, this is all we can do, express our concerns and hope the leader will listen. Upward voicing is a powerful tool and we all need to remember, to listen to those we lead and, voice our concerns to those who lead us. The flower will either bloom or not.

Shawna Legarza
Fire Management Officer - DIVS 08
San Juan Public Lands


We originally ran this post on our blog November 1, 2009, as our seventh post. Shawna is now the Director of Fire and Aviation for the U.S. Forest Service and an avid supporter of leadership development.

Leadership is Action - "You Can't Force Leadership"

Monday, June 19, 2017

ALERT: Increase in Heat-Related Illnesses in Wildland Firefighting



NMAC Correspondence 2017-12
June 19, 2017

To: Geographic Area Coordination Group Chairs
From: National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group
Subject: Wildland Firefighter Heat Related Injury Prevention, Awareness, and Rhabdomyolysis

The wildland firefighter community has experienced an alarming increase in heat related and other physiological injuries in the last few days. Heat related injuries and Rhabdomyolysis are not the same, but can occur at the same time. Extreme weather conditions are predicted to continue across western states for the next week. The National Weather Service is issuing Heat Warnings for the SWCC, GBCC, RMCC, OSCC, and ONCC (http://www.weather.gov/).

Working in the current and predicted weather conditions, regardless of hydration frequency, type and volume, resources will be exposed to an environment where they are at a much higher risk for severe and extreme heat related illnesses. Firefighters unable to offload the heat produced by their working muscles will see an increase in internal temperature, and can quickly reach critical levels, even death!

We need to consider alternatives to meet objectives that minimize time exposed to the extreme conditions. Bottom line! Therefore, the following information should be shared with ALL personnel working in this extreme heat! All resources, IMTs and Fire Managers should understand the signs and symptoms of heat-related injuries and Rhabdomyolysis, be able to assess their risk within their assigned incidents and tasks, and understand their responsibility to mitigate exposure to the extreme heat.

Risks associated with Heat Related Illness:
  • Physical work is the biggest producer of body heat. Physical exertion at the start of work shifts sets the body’s core temperature for the day. Air temperature generally increases from the beginning of normal shift work, thus giving little opportunity to lower body core temperature. 
  • Hydration alone will not prevent a heat-related injury. Hydration must be combined with good physical fitness and adequate recovery time from physical tasks in order to reduce the likelihood of heat-related injuries.
  • Performing physical tasks, such as hiking up hills, as well as PPE weight (including tools and packs) contributes to high physical demands and thus higher body temperatures - to possibly near-critical levels.
  • Having had a prior heat illness (moderate to severe heat exhaustion or heat stroke) puts firefighters at increased risk for repeat heat illness.
Mitigations:
  • Utilize shifts, including split, to avoid crews working in the heat of the day.
  • Plan for operations utilizing strategies and tactics necessary to operate during extreme temperatures, including not engaging until temperatures subside, unless absolutely necessary to protect critical values at risk.
  • Consider resource type and home unit and their appropriate levels of physical exertion at the incident.
  • Have resources ‘shade up’ after the morning hike to lower body temperature prior to beginning work for the day.
  • Frequent breaks! Allowing body core temperature to normalize is important. These breaks should include: 
    • Where possible, keep vehicles close to line resources and rotate them through air conditioning.
    • Provide “iced” hydration drinks whenever possible.
Key Points for Rhabdomyolysis: The most significant risk concerns with Rhabdo are related to the buildup of risk factors, lack of recognition of symptoms, and delays in reporting and treatment.
  • Risk Factors that increase Rhabdo potential:
  • Overexertion, poor conditioning
  • Heat stress/stroke 
  • Dehydration, excessive caffeine intake
  • Prescription medications (cholesterol-lowering statins and antidepressants), use of dietary supplements, or over-the-counter medications (antihistamines, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as Ibuprofen)
  • Use of alcohol or amphetamine
  • Medical conditions such as sickle cell trait, lupus, and concurrent acute viral illnesses such as influenza
Symptoms:

  • Muscle pain, cramping, swelling, weakness, stiffness, decreased range-of-motion
  • Pain generally develops in the hours after exercise and peaks between 24 and 48 hours post exercise
  • Nausea or vomiting, fever, rapid heart rate, confusion or lack of consciousness
  • Dark (tea or cola-colored) and minimal urine
Reporting: Rhabdo, Heat Stress NTDP Reporting (there is no PII collected on this form)

For additional information:
  • Heat Related Illness – 2013 Firefighter Refresher Video: 
/s/ Dan Buckley

Chair, NMAC

IGNITE: What is courage?

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen - W. Churchill (Wildland firefighters sitting and talking while a crew is hiking in the background)

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen - W. Churchill
[Photo credit: Kari Greer/USFS]

Thursday, June 15, 2017

IGNITE: Influence through Presence

Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact last in your absence.–  Sheryl Sandberg

Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.– Sheryl Sandberg
Share through your spheres of influence.

[Photo: Wyoming Interagency Hotshots]

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

To Suppress, Or Not Suppress, That Is The Question


At about this time a year ago, when I first started this Student of Fire blog, I attended our forests’ IC Refresher. Today, attending this years IC Refresher, was sort of like a Student of Fire anniversary for me. My perspective has changed during that time. I’ve committed many hours to reading, site visits, researching, and, well, actively performing my job as a Forestry Technician. Today I expected your run-of-the-mill delegation of authority, same old thing I’ve heard for the last couple years as an IC5 trainee. What I didn’t expect was to be sitting in my chair having the feeling that I was part of something, something on the verge of some serious change. I’m talking about not suppressing every fire. I’m talking about a fundamental shift that has been talked about and forgotten, talked about but never acted on.

Any wildland firefighter who’s spent time in the woods is either lying, lackluster about their job, or heavily dogmatized for suppression by their previous mentors if they tell you they’ve never questioned or wondered why certain fires are fought. Most of us involved with fire have some sense that it’s a natural, ecological process, oftentimes contributing to a more healthy ecosystem. We do controlled burns in wildlife plots. Why? Yeah, it must be good. So we have these contradictory ideas regarding our mission, us boots on the ground. We know in some circumstances it’s good, but then are directed to suppress all fires. This has persisted since the 70’s. Remember the definition for insanity? Fire management has exhibited some of that illogical rational for decades.

Recently I read Stephen Pyne’s Between Two Fires as a leadership pursuit. What I found in that book was a history of the changing perceptions surrounding fire: how we went from fire control to fire management, how most of the fire research that’s existed has been monopolized by the institutions receiving the majority of their money from suppressing fires, and how the re-introduction of natural fire has been tried, particularly by the national park service, with some failures and successes (both “failure” and “success” are left for interpretation).

This natural fire idea isn’t a new concept, but seeing it finally appear in front of me, from an agency who has historically been the final word on the wildfire business, was hair-raising. It made me think of that scene in Wayne’s World where Garth is playing with a robotic arm and the sleezebag is trying to sell him some lies. Garth, in his unique brand of Dana Carvey weirdness, says “We fear change” and smashes his little robotic creation to pieces. This is what we’ve been doing for a hundred years and we like doing it – why would we change that? Etc.

After the highly-vetted ex-hotshot Supt/National Parks Wildland Fire Use Director (who will remain nameless) gave his presentation, I just couldn’t help but feel like everyone in the room should consider themselves lucky to be given the latitude to seriously approach this change with open minds and support from upper management. It’s rare in big agencies (as far as I can tell) to be presented with options previously locked away. Not only to be given those options, but be supported in their development and implementation.

The big joke for the afternoon was Jonny Farmer, Mr. IC5 Trainee (me?) who shows up on his snag fire and calls dispatch to tell them about the great opportunity he’s found for a natural use fire. He begins drawing ideas on the back of an MRE container with his Crayola crayon, when Mr. Jonny Farmer is politely informed by his immediate supervisor to turn in his gear, take a year of unpaid absence, and apply somewhere else next season on USA Jobs. Funny, because it rings true. And it gets at the larger issue of why this idea hasn’t been implemented throughout the country. It takes a lot of courage to stand up to the status quo, to the way things have always been, and say “I think we can do better, I think we should demand more from ourselves.” I got to see that today, in person. A room full of people voicing their opinions, thoughts, and doubts about a vision for the future, about their role in it, and how it would all play out. Today I witnessed some serious leadership at work and it was awesome.


Reprinted with permission from the author. View the original on the Student of Fire blog. All thoughts are that of the author.

Monday, June 12, 2017

IGNITE: What Leaders Provide

Leaders provide purpose, direction, and motivation to those they lead. - Leading in the Widlland Fire Service, page 22  [Photo credit: Gregg Boydston] (Hotshot crew hiking)
Leaders provide purpose, direction, and motivation to those they lead. - Leading in the Widlland Fire Service, page 22

[Photo credit: Gregg Boydston]

Thursday, June 8, 2017

IGNITE: Leadership and Learning Go Together

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. –John F. Kennedy Photo: Kari Greer/USFS, Pioneer Fire (2016) (Wildland firefighter standing in a burning forest)

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. – John F. Kennedy

[Photo: Kari Greer/USFS, Pioneer Fire (2016)]

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Responding to Your Own Mental Health

Cerro Grande fire near Los Alamos, NM
The trauma that we see as firefighters on a daily basis will take a toll on people. Understanding how to deal with your body’s reactions to trauma may put you ahead of the game. Taking advantage of simple ways to recognize that we’re starting to struggle mentally with what we see on the job may be as important as life or death.

Currently, the number of suicides in the fire service is unprecedented. Organizations such as The Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance are trying to tackle these issues. Simple warning signs that you can look out for in yourself are crucial for your career and your overall mental health. So ask yourself: Would I know if I’m struggling mentally? Would you be able to tell if you need some simple mental health help? Here are some of the signs from Mental Health America that you can look out for:
  • Confused thinking
  • Prolonged depression (sadness or irritability)
  • Feelings of extreme highs and lows
  • Excessive fears, worries and anxieties
  • Social withdrawal
  • Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Strong feelings of anger
  • Delusions or hallucinations
  • Growing inability to cope with daily problems and activities
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Denial of obvious problems
  • Numerous unexplained physical ailments
  • Substance abuse
If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms it may be time to ask for help. There are many resources at your disposal. If you’re reading this and you aren’t experiencing any of these symptoms, then ask yourself: If I were experiencing these symptoms would I know what to do? Would I know where to go? If you don’t, then this may be the opportunity to start putting resources in place for your department so that when you or someone in the department is having an issue, your entire crew knows what to do.

Seeking help through your department’s employee action plan (EAP) is a good step. EAPs offer many services that all departments can take advantage of. If you’re in a volunteer department, look at the National Volunteer Fire Council’s “Share the Load” program. There are many resources at your disposal that are free. Establishing a peer support network throughout your department is a good way of having caring individuals who are willing to be there at a moment of crisis. The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation also has the 16 Life Safety Initiatives and Initiative 13 focuses on Behavioral Health. They have many different tools that you can put into your behavioral health toolbox.

I personally would like to see behavioral health training required at every fire training center in the country. This type of training should be as important as any other training you are required to attend. Take a look at the resources below and don’t be afraid to reach out if you need help.


Resources and Organizations
*******************************************************
MARK LAMPLUGH is a fourth-generation firefighter and former captain with the Lower Chichester, PA, Fire Company. He is the CEO of 360 Wellness Inc. (www.360wellness.org) and a consultant with Sprout Health Group (www.sprouthealthgroup.com). Lamplugh is also nationally recognized in Crisis Stress Intervention through the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress. He has helped hundreds of firefighters, police officers, veterans, EMS personnel, and civilians nationwide find help for addiction, alcoholism, PTSD, and mental health support. He can be reached for comment at mark@360wellness.org.

[Thank you to Firehouse magazine and Editor-in-Chief Tim Sendelbach for allowing the Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program to reprint this article on our blog as part of the our wildland fire health and wellness initiative.]

Monday, June 5, 2017

IGNITE: Building a Solid Team

A great person attracts great people and knows how to hold them together. – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
[Photo credit: BIA Uintah and Ouray Agency]

Thursday, June 1, 2017

IGNITE: Leadership Excellence

True leadership lies in guiding others to success--in ensuring that everyone is performing at their best, doing the work they are pledged to do and doing it well. –Bill Owens Photo: Folsom Lake Veterans' Fire Crew (fighting fire at night)
True leadership lies in guiding others to success--in ensuring that everyone is performing at their best, doing the work they are pledged to do and doing it well. – Bill Owens
[Photo credit: Folsom Lake Veterans' Fire Crew]

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

We Cannot Stand Alone: Human-caused Fires Call for Human Collaboration


by Jay Stalnacker

Fire management has changed substantially from the days when I was seasonally employed as a smoke jumper. Back then, a lightning storm would move across the open wilderness of the Idaho panhandle dropping flashes of nature’s magic. Sometimes, hundreds of fires would be started from these storms.

Those fires were remote and we called them “the good deal fires.” There were no homes or people to protect; it was just Mother Nature’s beauty. Often we would camp for days, corralling and watching the fire as it spread across the landscape. Fire created a natural disturbance that ensured the ecosystem was in balance.

Today managing fires requires a different approach. As the Wildland Fire Management Officer for Boulder County, I work full-time, all year around. That sea of green is now a complex mixture of homes, infrastructure, and trees. Human encroachment, in many forms, has changed how fires occur and how we deal with them.

Homes back up to forest landscapes. Infrastructure development, such as dams, change the way rivers flow and electrical lines crisscross and dissect the forest. These built features have not only changed how the environment looks; they have also changed the values we associate with natural landscapes. Human disturbance is now the next lightning storm and, unlike the beautiful and momentary flashes of a lightning bolt, our actions will have a much greater duration and impact.

The people, homes, and infrastructure at risk now force us to interrupt the natural and required disturbance of wildfire. Decades of suppression have resulted in a more unhealthy, overgrown, and disease ridden forest. Fire has been removed from the natural equation and the ecosystem is on the verge of being unbalanced.

In Boulder, social and political leaders identified the impacts of human development early enough to limit growth and take steps to reduce urban sprawl. Yet even those forward-thinking efforts weren’t enough—we still face the wildland urban interface (WUI) problems that many other communities struggle with across the nation.

Recently, a 74-acre fire in Sunshine Canyon, west of Boulder, cost nearly $750,000 to fight—nearly $10,000 per acre. The expense of fighting fires in the WUI is steadily increasing and it is unknown how much property or life will be lost before we’re motivated make a change.

One thing that can be done is to collectively address the human impact. Recent research from Earth Lab at the University of Colorado Boulder found that 84 percent of wildfires are human-caused. Arson, unattended campfires, illegal burning, outdoor shooting, downed power lines, train sparks, and other human causes have outpaced natural sources of wildfire. It’s these incidents—both accidental and purposeful—are now becoming overwhelming ignition sources.

In Boulder, we face the ever-growing development of our WUI, as well as an another emerging challenge—homelessness. After the financial crisis of 2008 and the subsequent housing market crash, homelessness has become an increasing issue. Studies indicate this vulnerable population is steadily increasing in many Western communities, most likely thanks to a temperate climate, generous population, and strong economy. Affluent communities like Boulder are also more attractive because they offer access to resources like shelters, free transportation, and food and clothing.

The homeless sometimes choose to relocate into nearby forested areas. In some cases—outside of Nederland, Colorado, for instance—entire small communities have been established as wilderness camps. These remote communities don’t have formal laws or regulations, so even with the best intentions of a peaceful existence there can be the potential for criminal activity, health issues, and reckless or careless behavior.

The 2016 Cold Springs Fire near Nederland was caused by the carelessness of traveling campers from Alabama. Eight homes were lost and hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent fighting it. Even more eye-opening, however, is the cultural change that occurred in the nearby community.

Before the fire, Nederland residents accepted the Boulder transient population and took pride in their uniquely welcoming culture. After the fire, though, many were angry, confused, and wanted answers. Numerous community meetings were held and groups on both sides of the homeless issue had heated conversations on social media and in public forums. The situation escalated to a point where an unfortunate outcome was nearly assured until, luckily, a solution was found.

The Nederland Area Interagency Council on Homeless Encampments (NICHE) formed in response to the ever-growing tension. NICHE members included federal, state, county and municipal governments along with private citizens, business owners, nonprofits, religious groups, and congressional representatives. The group met regularly and soon partnered with neighboring cities facing the same issue.

Today, the tension in the community has subsided and the homeless community is once again welcome. But now there are boundaries and expectations around “living wild.” Local law enforcement actively patrols remote camping areas and identifies those who need help. They educate on—and, if needed, enforce— rules that limit irresponsible activity. There is a long road ahead, but the future looks better than the past.

In my mind, NICHE is an example of how we will fight wildfires in the future. It will take all of the stakeholders coming to the table to find the best solutions. Not one fire agency will be able to fight these mega-fires of the future, nor will we be able to solve the problems associated with rising economic inequality and homelessness.

As such, partnerships and collaboration offer a path forward for fire managers. Multi-objective fire management, increased prescribed-fire use, partnerships with local groups, and homeowners taking a bigger role in mitigating risk must be what the future holds.

It’s a simple answer. None of us can stand alone. Together we can change the unwanted outcomes that alone may feel inevitable.

Jay Stalnacker is a regular contributor to this blog. Adapted and reprinted with permission by Jay Stalnacker, FMO Boulder County Sheriff's Office, from his April 19, 2017, PreventionWeb blog. All expressions are those of the author.

Monday, May 29, 2017

IGNITE: Remembering Our Fallen on Memorial Day


In memory of many, in honor of all. Thank You Happy Memorial Day [Photo credit: Nicole Oke] (roses on the markers of fallen wildland firefighters)

In memory of many, in honor of all. Thank You
Happy Memorial Day


[Photo credit: Nicole Oke]

Thursday, May 25, 2017

IGNITE: Bring Your Best

Bring your best every day. (Wildland fire engine with sunset in background)

Bring your best every day.

[Photo credit: Alex Galt, USFWS]

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Scott Anderson Honored for Lead by Example Award for Motivation and Vision

Josh Haney congratulating Scott Anderson on his Lead by Example Award

Scott Anderson
BLM Training Specialist (NWCG)
National Interagency Fire Center
Honored for Motivation and Vision

Scott Anderson has been selected as one of the recipients for the 2016 Paul Gleason Lead by Example award. Three individuals and two groups from across the wildland fire service have been chosen to receive this national award.

The award was created by the NWCG Leadership Committee to remember Paul Gleason’s contributions to the wildland fire service. During a career spanning five decades, Paul was a dedicated student of fire, a teacher of fire, and a leader of firefighters. The intent of this award is to recognize individuals or groups who exhibit this same spirit and who exemplify the wildland fire leadership values and principles. Scott's work in support of the Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program has been a demonstration of motivation and vision.

Scott was recognized for his involvement with the Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher program. Scott's undying commitment to making a difference through thoughtful, meaningful safety content personifies the art of leadership.

Take 5 @ 2 logo - clock at 2 o'clock embedded in a hand
The success of the WFSTAR program is a testament to your courage, strong leadership, and commitment to the safety of the ground firefighter. Scott's fearless vision and incredible creativity reached “outside the box.” Through his example, students of fire have been inspired to go beyond the ordinary and pursue excellence through innovation and creativity. Scott's example will live on for years to come.

Congratulations, Scott, on a job well done!

Paul Gleason Lead by Example award solicitation
Work boots

Monday, May 22, 2017

IGNITE: The True Spirit of Conversation

The true spirit of conversation consists in building on another person's observation, not overturning it. - Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton
The true spirit of conversation consists in building on another person's observation, not overturning it. - Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton

[Photo credit: Cedar Fire (2016)]

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Diego Mendiola Receives Lead by Example Award for Mentoring and Teamwork



Diego Mendiola holding his Paul Gleason Lead by Example Award for mentoring and teamwork
Diego Mendiola
Hotshot Superintendent
Zigzag Ranger District, USFS
Honored for Mentoring and Teamwork
Diego Mendiola has been selected as one of the recipients for the 2016 Paul Gleason Lead by Example award. Three individuals and two groups from across the wildland fire service have been chosen to receive this national award.

The award was created by the NWCG Leadership Committee to remember Paul Gleason’s contributions to the wildland fire service. During a career spanning five decades, Paul was a dedicated student of fire, a teacher of fire, and a leader of firefighters. The intent of this award is to recognize individuals or groups who exhibit this same spirit and who exemplify the wildland fire leadership values and principles. Diego’s work in support of the Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program has been a demonstration of mentoring and teamwork.

Diego Mendiola award presentation
Diego was recognized for his accomplishments as a valued mentor and team builder. Over the course of 30 years, he created a culture embodying the values of duty, respect, and integrity. With a humble personality and positive leadership style, he showed others what right looks like.

Mentoring and building the team were two of Diego's greatest strengths. His passion for duty and compassion for people surpassed fire and entered the realm of life skills. Diego's legacy will live on through those he led and served.

Congratulations, Diego, on a job well done!

Paul Gleason Lead by Example Award solicitation
Work boots




Thursday, May 11, 2017

IGNITE: Ripple Effects of Leadership

A leader's accomplishments are measured in lifetimes. Our character, decisions, and actions create powerful ripple effects that continue to influence people and organizations long after we are gone. - Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, p. 67 [lightning strike in the desert at dusk]
A leader's accomplishments are measured in lifetimes. Our character, decisions, and actions create powerful ripple effects that continue to influence people and organizations long after we are gone. - Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, p. 67
Share through your spheres of influence.

[Photo credit: Seedskadee and Cokeville Meadows Nation Wildlife Refuge/Tom Koerner]

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Cottrell and Myers Earn Lead by Example Award for Mentoring and Teamwork

Dan Cottrell, Smokejumper Foreman
Debbie Myers, Program Support Assistant
Aerial Fire Depot, Region 1, US Forest Service
Honored for Mentoring and Teamwork

Edmund Ward (who brought Deb and Dan into the Smokejumper program), Bill Miller, Tory Kendrick (Acting Missoula Smokejumper Base Manager receiving the award on behalf of Dan Cottrell, who is on fire assignment in the Southeast), Deb Myers (Currently working with the Anaconda Job Corps program) and Paul Chamberlin (previous Gleason Award recipient from the Northern Rockies)
Dan Cottrell and Debbie Myers have been selected as one of the recipients for the 2016 Paul Gleason Lead by Example award. Three individuals and two groups from across the wildland fire service have been chosen to receive this national award.

Molly and Dan Cottrell
The award was created by the NWCG Leadership Committee to remember Paul Gleason’s contributions to the wildland fire service. During a career spanning five decades, Paul was a dedicated student of fire, a teacher of fire, and a leader of firefighters. The intent of this award is to recognize individuals or groups who exhibit this same spirit and who exemplify the wildland fire leadership values and principles. Dan and Debbie's work in support of the Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program has been a demonstration of mentoring and teamwork.

Dan and Debbie were recognized for theirinvolvement with the Lead Forward Program. Creation of a program to recruit, train, and place well-qualified veteran candidates into the workforce in Region 1 was progressive and has brought about positive organizational change beyond the local level.

The success of the Lead Forward Program is a testament to their courage, strong leadership, and commitment to building the team. Dan and Debbie's vision to integrate veterans into the wildland fire service was an excellent example of mentoring and teamwork and provides an inspiration for years to come. Through their generosity and example, veterans have a sense of purpose and continued service.

Congratulations, Dan and Debbie, on a job well done!

Paul Gleason Lead by Example award solicitation
Work boots

Monday, May 8, 2017

IGNITE: Synergy!

Teamwork requires that everyone's efforts flow in a single direction. - Pat Riley [Wildland firefighters moving a stump; two on each side trying to roll it.]
Teamwork requires that everyone's efforts flow in a single direction. - Pat Riley

Share through your sphere of influence.

[Photo credit: Kari Greer/USFS]

Thursday, May 4, 2017

IGNITE: Leadership is Learning

Leadership is not an expertise. Leadership is a constant education. - Simon Sinek (wildfire in California desert)

Leadership is not an expertise. 
Leadership is a constant education. - Simon Sinek

[Photo credit: Captain Bryan Hoverman, San Bernadino County FD]

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

South Puget Sound Wildland Team Earns Lead by Example Award for Initiative and Innovation

Left to right: Hilary Franz, Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands; Matt Caldwell; Terry Jewell; Kevin Dohnam, previous LBE recipient; Sean Kibbe; Don Melton, SPS Fire District Manager; Bryan Scholz, past LBE recipient; Charley Burns; Brian Looper; Mark Stanford, NWCG Leadership Subcommittee
Left to right: Hilary Franz, Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands; Matt Caldwell; Terry Jewell; Kevin Dohnam, previous LBE recipient; Sean Kibbe; Don Melton, SPS Fire District Manager; Bryan Scholz, past LBE recipient; Charley Burns; Brian Looper; Mark Stanford, NWCG Leadership Subcommittee
South Puget Sound Wildland Team
Washington Department of Natural Resources
South Puget Sound Region
Honored for Initiative and Innovation

The South Puget Sound Wildland Team has been selected as one of the recipients for the 2016 Paul Gleason Lead by Example award. Three individuals and two groups from across the wildland fire service have been chosen to receive this national award.

Monday, May 1, 2017

IGNITE: Doing the Right Things

Efficiency is doing things right effectiveness is doing the right things. - Peter Drucker (thunderstorm with lightning)
Efficiency is doing things right effectiveness is doing the right things. - Peter Drucker
[Photo source: Jupiter Images]

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Risko Earns Lead By Example Award for Initiative and Innovation

Left to Right: Jeff Atwater, Florida Chief Financial Officer/State Fire Marshal; John Fish, FFS, Chief of Forest Protection George Risko, FFS Fire Training Officer; Jim Karels, Florida State Forester/Director of the FFS; Julius Halas, Director, Division of State Fire Marshal; Mike Joyner, Assistant Commissioner and Chief of Staff, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

George Risko
Fire Training Officer
Florida Forest Service
Honored for Initiative and Innovation

George Risko has been selected as one of the recipients for the 2016 Paul Gleason Lead by Example award. Three individuals and two groups from across the wildland fire service have been chosen to receive this national award.

The award was created by the NWCG Leadership Committee to remember Paul Gleason’s contributions to the wildland fire service. During a career spanning five decades, Paul was a dedicated student of fire, a teacher of fire, and a leader of firefighters. The intent of this award is to recognize individuals or groups who exhibit this same spirit and who exemplify the wildland fire leadership values and principles. George's work in support of the Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program has been a demonstration of initiative and innovation.

George was recognized for his ability to serve as a respected role model and teacher of wildland firefighters. As an avid supporter of reading and learning, he has inspired others to go beyond the conventional classroom to develop their leadership skills and change culture. George's humble, yet powerful, leadership example has produced huge benefits within Florida Forest Service and beyond.

Additionally, George was commended on his passion for leadership and compassion for those you lead. George's military background provides insight into the very roots of the Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program. The relationships he continues to foster with military partners provide an innovative development opportunity for those he leads and serves.

Congratulations, George, on a job well done!
The reactions of the supervisors tell the story--George had no idea the award was for him. 
Paul Gleason Lead by Example award solicitation
Work boots

Monday, April 24, 2017

2017 Position Task Book Field Review Needs You!


2017 Task Book Field Review cover

NWCG is updating Position Task Books!  

Help make them the best they can be at https://sites.google.com/site/2017ptbfieldreview/home.

IGNITE: Working Together!

 None of us can accomplish alone what is possible when we are working together! - Chery Gegelman  [Photo credit: Plumas IHC/USFS]
None of us can accomplish alone what is possible when we are working together! - Chery Gegelman
[Photo credit: Plumas IHC/USFS]

Thursday, April 20, 2017

IGNITE: Fear of the Mistake

The greatest mistake we make is living in constant fear that we will make one. – John C. Maxwell Crew walking up a slope
The greatest mistake we make is living in constant fear that we will make one. – John C. Maxwell
IGNITE the Spark for Leadership. LIKE and SHARE throughout your networks.
#fireleadership #fireminis

[Photo: National Park Service]

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Resiliency Through Suffering: Lessons from Wildland Firefighting (After the Fact)

The ultimate team result is resilience: teams that can bounce back when problems or errors threaten cohesion and synergy. - Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, p. 55
I grew up in a city. I had divorced parents and the first time I slept outside (on purpose, without alcohol being a factor) was my first fire on the Roosevelt National Forest. Needless to say, I didn’t really fit the mold of the prototypical wildland firefighter, if there is one. I had a crazy engine captain who came from SoCal, who taught me to be a decent firefighter mainly through sarcasm and hard PT hikes and runs. Although I sucked at pretty much everything in retrospect, I somehow managed to convince myself I was awesome at everything, just like 99% of all other 18-24 year olds do.

Monday, April 17, 2017

IGNITE: Hopes not Fears

May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears. – Nelson Mandela  Wildland firefighters on a ridge watching an airtanker drop
May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears. – Nelson Mandela

IGNITE the Spark for Leadership. LIKE and SHARE throughout your networks.
#fireleadership #fireminis

[Photo: Folsom Lake Veterans' Fire Crew]

Thursday, April 13, 2017

IGNITE: The True Spirit of Conversation

The true spirit of conversation consists in building on another person's observation, not overturning it. - Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton
The true spirit of conversation consists in building on another person's observation, not overturning it. - Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton 
IGNITE the Spark for Leadership. LIKE and SHARE throughout your networks. #fireleadership #fireminis 

[Photo credit: Cedar Fire (2016)]

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Leadership at the Lowest Levels

Leadership is the art of influencing people in order to achieve a result. The most essential element for success in the wildland fire service is good leadership.
Leadership is not about a title. The wildland fire service prides itself on leadership at all levels. In this Smokey Generation video, Lee Miller shares a leadership success story of his transport driver having the courage to lead up.

We challenge you to watch the video and dig a little deeper into leading up.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

IGNITE: Getting and Giving

You can get everything in life you want if you help enough other people get what they want. – Zig Ziglar (wildland firefighters hiking up a hill)
You can get everything in life you want if you help enough other people get what they want. – Zig Ziglar
IGNITE the Spark for Leadership. LIKE and SHARE throughout your networks.
#fireleadership #fireminis

[Photo credit: Feather River Hotshots]

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Have We Done Enough?


 
As a member of the wildland fire service or a friend or family member of someone who is, you know that the Fourth of July weekend is always a busy time of the year for firefighters. This particular holiday is not one many of us get to celebrate. In fact, most of us are supporting fireline operations in one fashion or another.

Monday, April 3, 2017

IGNITE: Beyond the Challenge

Give yourself an even greater challenge than the one you are trying to master and you will develop the powers necessary to overcome the original difficulty. – William Bennett (silhouette of firefighters)
Give yourself an even greater challenge than the one you are trying to master and you will develop the powers necessary to overcome the original difficulty. – William Bennett
IGNITE the Spark for Leadership. LIKE and SHARE throughout your networks.
#fireleadership #fireminis

[Photo credit: Cedar Fire 2016]