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Part 1 - Do our Wildland Fire (WF) Instructors foster "complete" lessons learned in the WF culture?

Authors - S130 / S190 / L180 Lead Instructor Fred J. Schoeffler and Co-Instructor / SME ( YH Fire ) Joy A. Collura


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"[F]or gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to those who are simple, and knowledge and discretion to the young - let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance - for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise."

Proverbs 1: 2-7


Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance” Confucius

Figure 1. Blowup to Burnover - Only Minutes poster Source: WFSTAR


Borrowing quotes from a Farnum Street Brainfood Newsletter article: "Sometimes we see systems where everyone involved seems to be doing things in a completely ineffective and inefficient way. A single small tweak could make everything substantially better - save lives, be more productive, save resources. ..." (emphasis added)


"While decision makers are trying to manipulate their environment, their environment is trying to manipulate them." (emphasis added)


"Many of the major problems we see around us are coordination failures. They are only solvable if everyone can agree to do the same thing at the same time." (emphasis added)


"We choose what makes sense given the existing incentives, which often discourage us from challenging the status quo. It often makes most sense to do what everyone else is doing ...," (emphasis added) i.e. Groupthink"

Behaviour is contagious because we catch it from other people. Much of what we do results from unconscious mimicry of others around us."

Rory Sutherland


"It only takes a small proportion of people to change their opinions to reach a tipping point where there is strong incentive for everyone to change their behavior, and this is magnified even more if those people have a high degree of influence. The more power those who enact change have, the faster everyone else can do the same." (emphasis added)


"To overcome coordination failures, we need to be able to communicate despite our differences. And we need to be able to trust that when we act, others will act too. The initial kick can be enough people making their actions visible. Groups can have exponentially greater impacts than individuals. We thus need to think beyond the impact of our own actions and consider what will happen when we act as part of a group." (emphasis added)


"The more public and visible the change is, the better." (emphasis added)


"We can prevent coordination failures in the first place by visible guarantees that those who take a different course of action will not suffer negative consequences." (emphasis added) (fs - 2020)



I. Introduction


In order to foster "complete" lessons learned in the WF culture, we have to "go back to the basics" as they say. And the basics that we consider important are "Human Factors", the "10 & 18," LCES, Entrapment Avoidance, Leadership, S-290 and Extreme Fire Behavior, NOAA.gov, Hourly Weather Graph, Satellite Water Vapor Imagery, and High Reliability Organizations (HRO) principles.


A. The "10 and 18" are the Ten Standard Fire Orders and the Eighteen Situations That Shout Watch Out or the Watch Out Situations.


The Fire Orders are arranged according to their importance and grouped in a logical sequence. They are broken into three groups, (i.e. Fire Behavior, Safety, and Organizational). After you have considered, discussed, and acted on the previous nine orders, then you "Fight fire aggressively, having provided for safety first."


NWCG recommends that you review and consider the Standard Fire Orders as a part of every shift. Here is an NWCG 6-Minutes for Safety link with the This Day In History article titled: History of the Fire Orders

( https://www.nwcg.gov/committee/6mfs/origin-of-the-10-and-18s )


Regarding the Ten Standard Fire Orders and Entrapment Avoidance, I have a preference for this former, well respected, somewhat controversial USFS Fire Director's viewpoints. In 2002, Jerry Williams, the former Director of Fire and Aviation Management, USDA Forest Service, Washington Office, Washington, DC, wrote an article for Fire Management Today (Issue 62, pp. 31-35) that specifically addresses the value of the Fire Orders. What follows is based on remarks made by the him at the National Fire and Aviation Management Meeting from February 25 to March 1, 2002, in Scottsdale, AZ. It is most unfortunate that so many in the wildland firefighting culture have strayed far and wide from this sage counsel.


In other words, this germane wildland fire information and these valued lessons learned that Mr. Williams offered in 2002, were clearly available to ALL WFs and FFs engaged in wildland firefighting in 2013, including the GMHS. Apparently, all others on the YH Fire that day followed Mr. William's sage advice. And literally tens of thousands of WFs and FFs engaged in wildland firefighting effectively and safely utilize them every single fire season. This is factual and far from hindsight bias!


These valuable "Old School" lessons learned that Mr. Williams offered in 2002, were clearly available to ALL WFs and FFs engaged in wildland firefighting in 2013, including the GMHS. Apparently, all others on the YH Fire that day followed Mr. William's sage advice. And literally tens of thousands of WFs and FFs engaged in wildland firefighting effectively and safely utilize them every single fire season. This is factual and far afield of hindsight bias!


(https://www.fs.fed.us/sites/default/files/fire-management-today/62-4.pdf)


“I regard it as a criminal waste of time to go through the slow and painful ordeal of ascertaining things for one’s self if these same things have already been ascertained and made available by others.”

Thomas Edison

B. Firm Rules of Engagement

The Ten Standard Firefighting Orders must be firm rules of engagement. They cannot be simple guidelines, and they cannot be “bargained.” They are the result of hard-learned lessons. Compromising one or more of them is a common denominator of all tragedy fires. On the Dude, South Canyon, and Thirtymile Fires, the Fire Orders were ignored, overlooked, or otherwise compromised." (emphasis added) (Williams 2002)


Unfortunately, many of today's WFs and FFs engaging in wildland firefighting do not subscribe to this sage professional advice. And worst of all, the Investigation Teams, Learning Reviews, et al refuse to utilize these as a template or standard any longer; in favor of "tell us your story" instead.


We should look at fatality incidents starting months before the accident and ask ourselves, “Why did everything they did make sense to them at the time?” (Dave Thomas and Donna Hunter)


“When they (HROs) ‘recognize’ an event as something they have experienced before and understood, that recognition is a source of concern rather than comfort. The concern is that superficial similarities between the present and the past mask deeper differences that could prove fatal.” (Karl E. Weick)


“The Fire Orders mean little after we are in trouble. That is why we must routinely observe them and rely on them before we get into trouble. We [all] know that no fire shelter can ensure survival all of the time under all circumstances. Entrapment avoidance must be our primary emphasis and our measure of professional operational success." (all emphasis added) (Williams 2002)


For "complete" lessons learned, the proactive "entrapment avoidance" training should be mandatory instead of the alleged "factual" SAIT-SAIRs of all the historical wildland firefighting mishaps - fatal and otherwise - that disingenuously and falsely conclude no fault, no blame, no violations of policy, reckless actions, protocol, or procedure.


“Conditions on the fireline can rapidly change. In the pressure of the moment, it is easy for people to overlook something important. That is why we must encourage our firefighters to speak up when they notice safety being compromised. As Weick and Sutcliffe point out, 'people who refuse to speak up out of fear enact a system that knows less than it must to remain effective. We must promote a working environment where even our greenest firefighters feel free to speak up." (emphasis added) (Williams 2002)


Check out this amazing time-lapse video clip of the Bighorn Fire on Mt. Lemmon outside of Tucson, AZ. The fire definitely signals its intentions for quite awhile, and the HS Crew (or whomever) waited way too long to fire off their line around the metal structure. By The Grace of God they pulled it off.


Figure 2. Bighorn Fire. Mount Lemmon FD 2 Time-Lapse video. 2020-06-17 Source: Southern AZ Time Lapses, Mt. Lemmon FD, YouTube


Please note in the video above that the WFs waited way too long to fire out their line around the metal building.


This comment was sent to me by a WF that was on the Big Horn Fire: 'the burnout around the metal building in the Mt. Lemmon area during the Big Horn Fire. I'm not sure if you are aware, but the metal building and equipment stored in that area was NOT saved, so I don't know that I'd consider this success in "pulling it off". I did not see it first hand (I'm sure you can verify): however, that metal (open air) structure was lost, as well as a lot of fire supplies that had been cached there in the parking lot. Ironically, it is right across the street from the Mt. Lemmon Fire Station. I was there for a while, before the fire got close, and can assure you that it did not have to have become a loss. There was enough room to safely position engines, particularly considering the time they had to pre-treat the area. Instead it was just a time for picture taking and overhead to yack. There were CAFS [Compressed Air Foam System] engines available that could have successfully foamed everything down. pulled back (if fire was too intense) and then immediately re-entered to extinguish hot spots. When the fire began to make it's run, everyone was told to pull back to a safe area (heard this on radio). I'm surprised they didn't lose any other structures.'


'And more from a WF that worked on the Bighorn Fire: "Additionally, the metal building was maybe 200 yards from the terminus of a steep chute and essentially at the same elevation as the top of the chute, on the southerly ridge that made up one side of the chute. The slope behind the building was easily 50%, if not more, and again near the top of a chute/chimney. Certainly slope was very much in favor of flames moving up behind the building.'

Figure 3. Bighorn Fire (Summerhaven area looking NE;17:00) Source / Copyright: Ryan Helms

Figure 3a. Buddy Source / Copyright: Joy A Collura


Indeed, the fireline can change rapidly, hence that need for adhering to the 10 & 18 and LCES. And it seems like a lot of these WFs / FFs above in this Bighorn Fire time-lapse video overlooked the importance of firing out their line sooner than later - always a good idea on firing operations. The system is already in place to speak up, however, the actual results are mixed, inconsistent, and discouraging, thus promoting non-compliance.

“Following an accident, a “stand-down” should be an accepted practice for those involved, until the facts can be sorted out. However, it is a shame that our focus on accountability too often occurs after an accident. Culturally, we must shift the weight of accountability to the time before an accident takes shape. We must embrace the rules of engagement as a way of doing business—as a professional standard. Violation of any Fire Order must prompt management or supervisory intervention and, unless rapidly corrected, be unarguable grounds for release from the fireline, release from the incident, or - if egregious - serious personnel action. (emphasis added) (Williams 2002) I agree with a short "stand down" as long as we are given some quick "facts" while honestly sorting out the facts Sadly, this "culture" has long been abandoned by an unethical, far from law abiding management.

“However, we must not adhere to the Fire Orders for fear of punishment. We must embrace the Fire Orders because we owe it to one another. In that sense, the Fire Orders must become a shared obligation, where the leader’s situational awareness depends on participation by the entire crew and where the crew’s participation is tempered with respect for the leader’s responsibility. Borrowing from the aviation community’s model of Cockpit/ Crew Resource Management, we must focus fireline operations more on what is right than on who is right. (emphasis added) (Williams 2002) This is basically the "Old School" way of wildland firefighting. And unfortunately, we fail to learn "complete" lessons because we are told that there was no blame, no fault, and no indications of any of these due to human factors.

This paper will use the term Human Error to mean the errors that are made during direct interface or direct influence of the process.


Human Factors are those aspects of the process and related systems that make it more likely for the human to make a mistake that in turn causes or could cause a deviation in the process or could in some indirect way lead to the increased probability of an accidental loss.


Bridges, W. & Tew, R. (2010) Human Factors Elements Missing from Process Safety Management (PSM). Process Improvement Institute, Inc. (PII)

( https://www.process-improvement-institute.com/_downloads/Human_Factors_Elements_Missing_from_PSM.pdf )


We fail to learn. We all know the person that has 20 years of experience but it’s really the same year over and over. Well, that person is sometimes us. If we don’t understand how we learn, we’re likely to make the same mistakes over and over. (Farnum Street)

Here is a portion of an ADOSH interview quote from an "Old School" WF named Bill Astor (listed as "Safety Officer, [IMT] and facilities Safety Officer") in his ADOSH interview(s), which gives me hope.

"... [W]e have the 10 & 18, you know -- some people would say they’re guidelines -- for us they’re - they’re rules - they’re policy - uh, they deal with fire behavior, they deal with - with organizational control, they - they deal with, uh, a myriad of - of, uh, issues and incidents that you could come into contact with and - and these 10 & 18 were developed as result of, you know, unfortunately catastrophes that we’ve just experienced and they’ve been developed in the field and they - they’ve been looked at by fire experts over the years and practiced - but th- these - these, uh, rules -- and - and I call them rules in my moniker -- are things that you cannot break, you cannot bend and you cannot walk away from. These are pre- pretty staunch rules of, uh, fireline activity and - and how you fight fire in a safe manner." (emphasis added)


INTERVIEW WITH BILL ASTOR - Interviewer: [ADOSH] Brett Steurer 10-18/8:05 am Case # AZSF - P. 8 (emphasis added - line numbers removed)

Over the years, I have had numerous WFs and FFs tell me: "If this newer, 'kinder, gentler' generation of WFs and FFs loses this 'Old School' way of thinking and fighting wildfires, then they are basically f**ked, because they'll never be able to get it back." Stay the course and "go back to the basics" of the "LCES and the 10 & 18" because they work every time you utilize them.


2. Weather and Extreme Fire Behavior


MetEd The COMET Program - Unit 11 Extreme Fire Behavior

( https://www.meted.ucar.edu/training_module.php?id=713&tab=02#.XuWhyedlBPY )


NWCG S-290 Unit 11 - Extreme Fire Behavior

( http://stream1.cmatc.cn/pub/comet/FireWeather/S290Unit11ExtremeWildlandFireBehavior/comet/fire/s290/unit11/navmenu.php_tab_1_page_1.0.0.htm )


S-290 Extreme Fire Behavior - Slide Share

( https://www.slideshare.net/WildlandFire/s290-ep-11-45489527 )


Weather and Wind Warnings - NWCG WFSTAR

( https://youtu.be/fHRJ2sk6L14 )


Werth et al (2011) Synthesis of knowledge of extreme fire behavior: volume I for fire managers

( https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwi_4aODuYDqAhVBjp4KHU2cAvc4ChAWMAB6BAgDEAE&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.fs.fed.us%2Fpnw%2Fpubs%2Fpnw_gtr854.pdf&usg=AOvVaw0eWK0BO3RDl0E7jlJMU96r )


Tedim, F.; Leone, V.; Amraoui, M.; Bouillon, C.; Coughlan, M.R.; Delogu, G.M.; Fernandes, P.M.; Ferreira, C.; McCaffrey, S.; McGee, T.K.; Parente, J.; Paton, D.; Pereira, M.G.; Ribeiro, L.M.; Viegas, D.X.; Xanthopoulos, G. (2018) Defining Extreme Wildfire Events: Difficulties, Challenges, and Impacts. Fire, 1. ( https://www.mdpi.com/2571-6255/1/1/9 )


A. General Weather and Fire Weather Sources


NOAA.gov ( https://www.noaa.gov/ ) Weather (cloud + sun image) upper left icon

Figure 4. NOAA.gov Home Page. Subject icons left column (Weather = cloud + sun)."Find local weather" search box upper right (Any city location (must use comma) and state or Zip Code works) Source: NOAA


Figure 4a. NOAA.gov Weather Page (cloud + sun). Reveals weather forecast office and Current, Extended, Detailed Conditions Page (upper and left third); Additional Forecasts and information (bottom left); Click Map for specific forecast by lat / long (green map - right third); Additional Information (right side) Radar and Satellite Imagery, Hourly Weather Graph; National Digital Forecast Database. Source: NOAA


Several "Old School" Fire Weather meteorologists suggest that we concentrate on the more reliable Hourly Weather Graph for more detailed Fire Weather data, thus ignoring the Current, Extended, and Detailed Conditions with daily / nightly images and daily / nightly text for the week (upper and left third); "Click Map for Forecast Area" allows base map choices (e.g. topographic, satellite) and specific weather for wherever you click; detailed "Forecast Discussion" link; Additional Information (right side)


Consider now the Hourly Weather Graph - a very cool, very accurate, very reliable fire weather tool that allows you to forecast specific fire weather data and values

Figure 5. (left) Hourly Generic Weather Graph. Top row columns - "Weather Elements, Weather / Precipitation, Fire Weather; Bottom 3/4 - "48-hour period starting" drop-down arrow; "Submit" tab for changing settings; "Back / Forward 2 days" tabs Source: NOAA


Generic "Weather Elements" data /values for "Heat Index, Dew Point, Temperature, Gusts, Surface Wind, Relative Humidity, Precipitation Potential, Sky Cover, Rain, Thunder" can be engineered specifically to meet your Fire Weather needs.

Figure 5a. (right) NOAA.gov Weather - Hourly WX Graph - specific for Fire Weather Source: NOAA


To accomplish this, uncheck "Heat Index, Precipitation Potential, Sky Cover, Rain, and Thunder" for replacing with Fire Weather Elements. And then, check "Mixing Heights, Haines, Lightning Activity Level (LAL), Transport Wind, 20 ft Wind, Ventilation Rate, Atmospheric Dispersion Index, Low Visibility Occurrence Risk Index, Tuner Stability Index. Click the "Submit" tab to change to new settings.


The Low Visibility Occurrence Risk Index (LVORI) arose from some essential research and development because of several serious fatal and non-fatal Florida and Georgia automobile accident reports when fog and smoke [Super Fog] was a factor. These were related to two types of fog: advection and radiation. The data suggest that localized radiation fogs pose greater hazards than widespread advection fogs (Lavdas and Achtemeier, 1995). The LVORI is an index for the probability of low visibility, and ranges from 1 - 10, depending on the relative humidity and smoke dispersion index. A 1 means there is almost no chance of low visibility, while a 10 indicates low visibility is likely. This Index is a function of relative humidity and smoke dispersion index.


The Turner Stability Index is a function of the Net Radiation Index (NRI), and wind speed. The NRI is an indicator of exposure to the sun's rays, i.e. insolation. The rate of pollutant dispersion within the atmosphere is largely dependent on stability. Atmospheric stability is determined by the rate of temperature change with respect to height within the atmosphere.

This method assigns a dispersion rate to the lower atmosphere according to one of seven stability classes ranging from extremely unstable through neutral to extremely stable. The class is determined from solar elevation angle, wind speed, opaque cloud cover, and cloud ceiling height.


This Hourly Weather Graph is definitely a must for prescribed (RX) burns and firing operations with the potential for hazardous smoke conditions adversely affecting driving. ( https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/fc_lvori.htm )


See also, Wildland Fire Smoke and Roadway Visibility - Predict, Prepare and Avert Accidents Part 2: Weather Information & Tools; Curcio, G.M. (2017) North Carolina Forest Service - webinar recording link and presentation slides PDF. Obtaining and tracking key environmental variables. Reviewing operationally developed indexes (Turner Stability Index (TS), Atmospheric Dispersion Index (ADI), Low Visibility Occurrence Risk Index (LVORI). Superfog Matrix Smart Tool for NWS Weather Forecasting Offices. ( https://www.frames.gov/catalog/24247 )

B. Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) Water Vapor Imagery (WVI) - a means to actually "see" the dry air (subsidence) aloft


Go to NOAA.gov >>> Weather (upper left column) >>> GOES Image Viewer - Sector Image Viewer (satellites)


GOES Image Viewer ( https://www.star.nesdis.noaa.gov/GOES/sector.php?sat=G16&sector=sr ) Scroll down to Bands 8, 9, and 10 for WVI.


Figure 6. NOAA.gov Satellite Water Vapor Imagery - Sector Images snippet Source: NOAA


Band 10 is a water vapor band, meaning it is capable of detecting water vapor at middle to lower portions of the atmosphere, in addition to high clouds. It can detect water vapor lower in the troposphere compared to the water vapor band on the legacy GOES-13 and -15 imager. (NOAA)


Why is “Mid-level water vapor” band imagery important?

The 6.9 µm “Mid-level water vapor” band is one of three water vapor bands on the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI), and is used for tracking middle-tropospheric winds, showing jet streams, forecasting hurricane track and mid-latitude storm motion, monitoring severe weather potential, gaging mid-level moisture (for legacy vertical moisture profiles) and identifying regions where turbulence might exist. Surface features are usually not apparent in this band. Brightness Temperatures show cooling because of absorption of energy at 6.9 µm by water vapor. (NOAA)


The imager on GOES-16 features three mid-level water vapor bands instead of the single water vapor band on the GOES-13 Imager. The single water vapor band on GOES-13 contained a mixture of water vapor features over many levels of the troposphere, but GOES-16 enables us to focus on water vapor in the upper troposphere (band 8), the middle troposphere (band 9), or the lower troposphere (band 10). The GOES-13 Imager water vapor channel is between ABI bands 8 and 9. Bands 8, 9, 10 Water Vapor Imagery (WVI) Upper-, Mid-, Low- Animation plus pix / images, i.e. 300 x 300. (NOAA)


Change the animation "loop" value to 240 seconds for longer view time. Be patient for it to populate, especially on your cell phone.

C. Subsidence


Consider now the detailed text on the potentially dangerous role of Subsidence in the wildland fire weather that can only be "seen" using Satellite Water Vapor Imagery (WVI) or Skew -T Soundings.


Subsidence inversions are defined as an increase in temperature with increasing height produced by the slow sinking of a layer of middle or high level associated with high pressure. As the high air aloft sinks or subsides, it warms by compression, and then produces a layer of warm, dry, and very stable air. Subsidence can take several days to occur. During this time, the subsidence inversion intensifies as it lowers and becomes increasingly warmer and drier than the layer of air below it (COMET 2010).


SUBSIDENCE - what follows is taken from one of the finest learning products the USFS has ever created.


All text below is taken directly from this source Fire Weather handbook. All emphasis below in the excerpted Subsidence chapter is added.

Source: Fire Weather - USDA Forest Service Agriculture Handbook 360. FIRE WEATHER - A GUIDE FOR APPLICATION OF METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION TO FOREST FIRE CONTROL OPERATIONS. (May 1970)

Mark J. Schroeder Weather Bureau, Environmental Science Services Administration U.S. Department of Commerce and Charles C. Buck Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture


( https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwj17c2asYvqAhXZJDQIHeWbB0sQFjAJegQIAhAB&url=https%3A%2F%2Ftraining.nwcg.gov%2Fpre-courses%2Fs290%2FFire_Weather_Handbook_pms_425.pdf&usg=AOvVaw0bj0OF9ktXHsKiWnYk16Hk )


Air that rises in the troposphere must be replaced by air that sinks and flows in beneath that which rises. Local heating often results in small scale updrafts and downdrafts in the same vicinity.

On a larger scale, such as the up-flow in low-pressure systems, adjacent surface high-pressure systems with their divergent flow normally supply the replacement air. The outflow at the surface from these high-pressure areas results in sinking of the atmosphere above them. This sinking from aloft is the common form of subsidence. The sinking motion originates high in the troposphere when the high-pressure systems are deep. Sometimes these systems extend all the way from the surface up to the tropopause. Deep high-pressure systems are referred to as warm Highs, and subsidence through a deep layer is characteristic of warm Highs. Subsidence occurs in these warm high pressure systems as part of the return circulation compensating for the large upward transport of air in adjacent low-pressure areas. If the subsidence takes place without much horizontal mixing, air from the upper troposphere may reach the surface quite warm and extremely dry. For example, the saturation absolute humidity of air in the upper troposphere with a temperature of -50° to -60°F. is less than 0.02 pounds per 1,000 cubic feet. In lowering to the surface, this air may reach a temperature of 70°F. or higher, where saturation would represent 1.15 pounds or more of water per 1,000 cubic feet. If no moisture were added to the air in its descent, the relative humidity would then be less than 2 percent.

Subsiding air may reach the surface at times with only very little external modification or addition of moisture. Even with considerable gain in moisture, the final relative humidity can be quite low. The warming and drying of air sinking adiabatically is so pronounced that saturated air, sinking from even the middle troposphere to near sea level, will produce relative humidities of less than 5 percent. Because of the warming and drying, subsiding air is characteristically very clear and cloudless.

Subsidence in a warm high-pressure system progresses downward from its origin in the upper troposphere. In order for the sinking motion to take place, the air beneath must flow outward, or diverge. Thus, horizontal divergence is an integral part of subsidence in the troposphere. The descent rate is observed by following the progress of the subsidence inversion on successive upper-air soundings. The accompanying chart shows a simplified illustration of the subsidence inversion on 3 successive days. The temperature lapse rate in the descending layer is nearly dry-adiabatic, and its bottom surface is marked by a temperature inversion. Two features, a temperature inversion and a marked decrease in moisture, identify the base of a subsiding layer. Below the inversion, there is an abrupt rise in the moisture content of the air. The rate of descent of subsiding air varies widely. It is typically fastest at higher levels and becomes progressively slower near the surface. It is commonly about 5,000 feet in 6 hours around the 30,000-foot level, and about 500 feet in 6 hours at the 6,000-foot level. Frequently, the subsiding air seems to lower in successive stages. When this happens, a sounding will show two or more inversions with very dry air from the top down to the lowest inversion. This air may be drier than can be measured with standard sounding equipment. Subsiding air seldom reaches the surface as a broad layer. Often, it sinks to the lower troposphere and then stops. We need, therefore, to consider ways in which the dry air no longer lowering steadily over a broad area can affect the surface.

Along the west coast in summer we generally find a cool, humid advected marine layer 1,000-2,000 feet thick with a warm, dry subsiding layer of air above it. This subsidence inversion is usually low enough so that coastal mountains extend up into the dry air. The higher topographic elevations will experience warm temperatures and very low humidities both day and night. Some mixing of moisture upward along the slopes usually occurs during the daytime with upslope winds.

As the marine layer moves inland from the coast during clear summer days, it is subjected to intensive heating and becomes warmer and warmer until finally the subsidence inversion is wiped out. The temperature lapse rate from the surface to the base of the dry air, or even higher, becomes dry-adiabatic. Then, convective currents can be effective in bringing dry air from aloft down to the surface and mixing the more moist air from near the surface to higher levels.

This process can well take place in other regions when the subsidence inversion reaches low-enough levels so it can be eliminated by surface daytime heating.

Figure 7. The descent of a subsidence inversion may be followed on successive soundings, as shown by dashed lines. As the more humid surface air flows outward, the drier air aloft is allowed to sink and warm adiabatically. Source: Fire Weather Handbook

The inversion will be wiped out only in local areas where surface heating is intense enough to do the job. If the heating is not sufficient to eliminate the inversion, the warm, dry air cannot reach the surface by convection. Convective currents in the layer beneath the inversion may be effective in eating away the base of the inversion and mixing some of the dry air above with the more humid air below. This process will warm and dry the surface layer somewhat, but humidities cannot reach the extremely low values characteristic of a true subsidence situation.

Another method by which dry, subsiding air may reach the surface is by following a sloping downward path rather than a strictly vertical path. A vertical sounding may show that the subsiding air is much too warm to reach the surface by sinking vertically, because the layer beneath it is cooler and denser. However, if surface air temperatures are warmer downstream, the subsiding air can sink dry-adiabatically to lower levels as it moves down stream and may eventually reach the surface. This process is most likely to occur around the eastern and southern sides of a high-pressure area where temperatures increase along the air trajectory. By the time the sinking air reaches the surface, it is likely to be on the south, southwest, or even west side of the High.

Subsiding air may reach the surface in a dynamic process through the formation of mountain waves when strong winds blow at right angles to mountain ranges. Waves of quite large amplitude can be established over and on the leeward side of ranges. Mountain waves can bring air from great heights down to the surface on the lee side with very little external modification. These waves may also be a part of the foehn-wind patterns, which we will touch off only briefly here since they will be treated in depth in chapter 6. In the mountain areas of the West, foehn winds, whether they are the chinook of the eastern slopes of the Rockies, the Santa Ana of southern California, or the Mono and northeast wind of central and northern California, are all associated with a high-pressure area in the Great Basin. A foehn is a wind flowing down the leeward side of mountain ranges where air is forced across the ranges by the prevailing pressure gradient. Subsidence occurs above the High where the air is warm and dry. The mountain ranges act as barriers to the flow of the lower layer of air so that the air crossing the ranges comes from the dryer layer aloft. If the pressure gradient is favorable for removing the surface air on the leeward side of the mountain, the dry air from aloft is allowed to flow down the lee slopes to low elevations. The dryness and warmth of this air combined with the strong wind flow produce the most critical fire-weather situations known anywhere.

Mountain waves, most common and strongest in the West, are also characteristic of flow over eastern and other mountain ranges. When they occur with foehn winds, they create a very spotty pattern. The strongest winds and driest air are found where the mountain waves dip down to the surface on the leeward side of the mountains.

An example of a severe subsidence condition associated with chinook winds, and in which mountain waves probably played an important part, is the Denver, Colo., situation of December 1957. On December 9, chinook winds were reported all along the east slope of the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming and Colorado. Surface relative humidity at Denver remained at 3 percent or below from noon until midnight that day. The Denver observation at 1900 hours showed: Temperature: 60 (°F.), Dew Point: -29 (°F.), Relative humidity: an incredible 1%, Wind direction and speed: West at 22 mph.


The extremely low dew point indicates that the air must have originated in the high troposphere.

Cases of severe subsidence are much more frequent in the western half of the country than in the eastern regions. Moat of the Pacific coast area is affected in summer by the deep semi-permanent Pacific High. This provides a huge reservoir of dry, subsiding air which penetrates the continent in recurring surges to produce long periods of clear skies and dry weather. Fortunately, marine air persists much of the time in the lower layer along the immediate coast and partially modifies the subsiding air before it reaches the surface.

In the fall and winter months, the Great Basin High is a frequent source of subsiding air associated with the foehn winds, discussed above. It is the level of origin of this air that gives these winds their characteristic dryness.

Subsiding air reaching the surface is perhaps less common in eastern regions, but does occur from time to time. Usually the subsiding air is well modified by convection. But subsidence is often a factor in the severe fire weather found around the periphery of Highs moving into the region [east] of the Rockies from the Hudson Bay area or Northwest Canada mostly in spring and fall. It also occurs during summer and early fall periods of drought, when the Bermuda High extends well westward into the country.

Consider now a few wildland fire weather research papers examining the crucial role of Subsidence on wildland fire behavior, revealed as Dry Intrusions and Dry Slots, utilizing WVI, with a look into the Skew-T soundings from those Soaring buffs that depend (life or death) on accurately depicted up and downdrafts.


WEATHER AND FIRE BEHAVIOR INFLUENCING THE 11-12 JUNE 2013 BLACK FOREST COLORADO (USA) WILDFIRE ( https://ams.confex.com/ams/42Broadcast/webprogram/Manuscript/Paper245722/AMS%2042nd%20June%202013%20Black%20Forest%20Fire%202.pdf )


THE INFLUENCE OF DRY SLOTS ON WILDLAND FIRE GROWTH DURING THE 2011 ARIZONA FIRE SEASON ( https://ams.confex.com/ams/10Fire/webprogram/Handout/Paper225272/AMS%202011%20AZ%20wildfires%20influenced%20by%20Dry%20Slots%20In%20The%20U.S.%202.pdf )


Kaplan, M.L., et al (2008) The development of extremely dry surface air due to vertical exchanges under the exit region of a jet streak. Meteorol Atmos Phys ( http://www.mesolab.us/publications%20%28web%29/2008_Kaplan_etal%28MAP_Jet_Streak_and_Fire%29.pdf )



Figure 8. Vertical cross section of simulated Relative Humidity on the June 2, 2002, 1700 UTC (1300 EDT) Double Trouble State Park (DTSP) wildfire. The bright red low RH region would be a dry slot visible in the WVI. Source: Charney et al (2003) The role of a stratospheric intrusion in the evolution of the DTSP wildfire, Figure 6.



Figures 9a. & b. GOES 8 Water Vapor Imagery (WVI) snippet of June 2, 2002, 1445 UTC (10:45 AM - top) and 1745 UTC (1:45 PM - bottom) indicating dry intrusions and dry slots (subsidence) advecting across the DTSP wildfire region. Gold and yellow colors indicate very dry air Source: NOAA Global ISCCP B1 Browse System (GIBBS)





Figures 10. a-c. (a) KALB (Albany County, NY), (b) KCHH (Chatham, MA), (c) KOKX (Upton, NY) June 2, 2002, 12Z (8:00 AM ) Skew-T Soundings all indicating Subsidence Inversions in the 550 to 600 mb range (roughly 15,000' & 20,000') Source: Plymouth State Weather Center


KALB and KCHH generally match at 400 to 600 mb with single digit Relative Humidity values, with like KOKX site values up into the Jet Stream levels at 200 to 300 mb.



Martin, J. (UP) (2015) Skew T’s – How to Read Them. Finger Lakes Soaring Club, Dansville, NY. ( http://flsc.org/portals/12/PDF/Read_Skew_T.pdf )


3. Entrapment Avoidance 


Use training and reference materials to study, understand, and adopt the risk management process as identified in the Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG), PMS 461, as appropriate to participants, (i.e., LCES, Standard Firefighting Orders, and the Watch Out Situations). Entrapment avoidance and deployment protocols are identified in the IRPG, which also contains the “Last Resort Survival Checklist.”


Another good source for specific case studies - with a caveat - is the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center (LLC), Incident Reviews Database.

( https://www.wildfirelessons.net/home ) Search by Fire Name, Match Terms, Incident Year, Incident Type (i.e. "entrapment"), fire name, and Incident Location. And the caveat is, of course, the indisputable fact that any and all Serious Accident Investigation Reports and / or Reviews are considerably more fiction-based. That has become - and is - such a regular business practice, and such a minor detail, in their eyes, that those alleged 'Investigators' first decide on a "conclusion" and then find those specious "facts" to support their predetermined conclusion.


Or as one of the former (acting) SW Region Fire Directors stated at a Fire Mgmt. meeting - "There is a grain of truth in everything I say ..." - when he was attempting to evasively avoid telling us what really happened on the fatal April 22, 1993, Santa Fe NF Buchanan RX Burn Fatality where Jemez Pueblo WF Frankie Toldeo was killed due to overly aggressive Aerial Ignition Induced Fire Behavior. The fire behavior was so intense it burned the boots off his feet. Where 16 WFs were entrapped and deployed fire shelters and five WFs suffered minor burn injuries.


When WFs returned from that assignment, they were visibly scared because the cowardly and nefarious "they" were looking for Scapegoats.


Figure 11. WLF LLC Incident Reviews Database, search terms, match terms, incident year, incident type, incident location drop-downs Snippet. Source: WLFLLC


PREMORTEM EXERCISES

Premortem exercises are very powerful tools that begin by looking at an incident that will take place in the near future. All participants are instructed to assume that something went spectacularly wrong and are then asked to determine the cause of this tragic ending, and identify ways of preventing this failure from happening.


Premortem exercises:


Can be done on a scheduled prescribed fire or in an incident action plan (IAP).


Let all participants introduce their idea of what went wrong. Supervisors invite subordinates to tell them how this incident or plan can fail. Look for blind spots.


Determine ways to prevent this failure.




NWCG 6-Minutes for Safety - Escape Routes 1 (Take 5@2)

( https://www.nwcg.gov/committee/6mfs/escape-routes1 )



A. Leadership

Figure 12. NWCG Leadership categories Source: NWCG


Be better able to “speak truth to power” (respectful interaction).


Be able to incorporate new concepts into their daily language.


Recommended Reading List on HRO

Beyond Aviation Human Factors, Daniel E. Maurino, et al.


Managing the Risks of Organizational Accidents, James Reason


Managing the Unexpected, Karl E. Weick and Kathleen M. Sutcliffe


New Challenges to Understanding Organizations, Karlene H. Roberts


Normal Accidents, Charles Perrow


The Limits of Safety, Scott D. Sagan



Taken from a Farnum Street article, consider now some very sage advice from Michael Abrashoff, who became Commander of USS Benfold at age 36, making him the most junior commanding officer in the Pacific Fleet on a ship that was plagued by low morale, high turnover and abysmal performance evaluations. He became a leadership and teamwork expert. In his book, It’s Your Ship, he wrote: The most important skill a skipper can have is the ability to see through the eyes of the crew.(all emphasis added throughout entire article)


"Leaders must free their subordinates to fulfill their talents to the utmost. However, most obstacles that limit people’s potential are set in motion by the leader and are rooted in his or her own fears, ego needs, and unproductive habits. When leaders explore deep within their thoughts and feelings in order to understand themselves, a transformation can take shape."


" ... our company’s purpose is profit. But we will achieve neither by ordering people to perform as we wish. Even if doing so produces short-term benefits, the consequences can prove devastating.


I QUESTION SOME OF THIS ADVICE FROM A WFs PERSPECTIVE -

"Organizations should reward risk-takers, even if they fall short once in a while. ... Stasis is death to any organization. Evolve or die: It’s the law of life. Rules that made sense when they were written may well be obsolete. Make them extinct, too."


We are okay with taking risks - calculated risks - solidly based following the Risk Management process in the IRPG, in our "inherently dangerous" world. However, taking risks and 'rewarding risk-takers,' just for the sake of taking risks is foolhardy and dangerous. And our Basic WF Rules and Guidelines "made sense when they were written" and still make sense, so they are faraway from being "obsolete." The plans to "make them extinct" are only in the minds of those that drink / drank / will drink / encourage you to drink the YH Fire SAIT-SAIR Kool-Aid and believe in and follow the Coordinated Response Protocol and Learning Review subscribe to their conclusion.

Where there is no counsel, the people fall;

But in the multitude of counselors there is safety. Proverbs 11:14 (NKJV)


Consider now the August 7, 2014, Wildfire Today article titled: "USFS to use new serious accident review system" ( https://wildfiretoday.com/2014/08/07/usfs-to-use-new-serious-accident-review-system/ ) and the August 19, 2015, USDA article titled: "The Coordinated Response Protocol and Learning Review for serious accidents" ( https://www.fs.usda.gov/rmrs/science-spotlights/coordinated-response-protocol-and-learning-review-serious-accidents )


The CRP article is ever-so-pleasantly explained; why would there be any reason to shy away from it? "Different investigations are required by USDA Forest Service and by federal regulations following a wildfire-related fatality. Personnel conducting data collection for these investigations might become so focused on their task that they can, inadvertently, be insensitive to persons directly affected by the accident. The Coordinated Response Protocol (CRP) and Learning Review are designed to make the process as painless as possible for all involved." (emphasis added) What f**king BS! One of the three big lies is "Trust us, we work for The Government and are here to help you."


There are no "federal regulations following a wildfire-related fatality" mentioned in this article dealing specifically with "Wildland firefighter deaths in the United States": "Butler, C. et al (2017) Wildland firefighter deaths in the United States: A comparison of existing surveillance systems. J Occup Environ Hyg., 14"


I digress ... Commander Abrashoff discovered that '... exit surveys, interviews conducted by the military to find out why people are leaving" revealed surprising results. ... The top reason was not being treated with respect or dignity; next was being prevented from making an impact on the organization; third, not being listened to; and fourth, not being rewarded with more responsibility. (emphasis added)


Thus Abrashoff came to the conclusion that the best thing he could do was see the ship through the eyes of the crew. This makes it much easier to find out what’s wrong and help people empower themselves to fix it.


"I began with the idea that there is always a better way to do things, and that, contrary to tradition, the crew’s insights might be more profound than even the captain’s. ... I asked everyone, “Is there a better way to do what you do?” Time after time, the answer was yes, and many of the answers were revelations to me. (emphasis added)

"My second assumption was that the secret to lasting change is to implement processes that people will enjoy carrying out. ... encouraging people not only to find better ways to do their jobs, but also to have fun as they did them. ... (emphasis added)

Without counsel, plans go awry, But in the multitude of counselors they are established.

Proverbs 15:22 (NKJV)



WW II, Korea, Viet Nam Veterans YouTube videos ( https://youtu.be/gVgU2LfumIc ) brings up loads of interviews on right side




B. High Reliability Organizations (HRO) principles


Making Effective Decisions and Fewer Error ( https://fs.blog/smart-decisions/ )


The decision-making principles in this Farnum Street article (above) are deliberate. They’re the result of many years of experience and experimentation. They draw upon the combined expertise of some of history’s deepest thinkers. They summarize the core insights and skills from several influential books on decision-making.

No One Taught You How to Decide ( https://fs.blog/smart-decisions/#how_to_decide )

Your Mind is a Pattern Matching Machine ( https://fs.blog/smart-decisions/#pattern_matching )

Decision Making ( https://fs.blog/smart-decisions/#decision_making )

Smart People Make Terrible Decisions ( https://fs.blog/smart-decisions/#smart_people_make_terrible_decisions )

Sources of Stupidity

Intelligent Preparation: The World Is Multidisciplinary ( https://fs.blog/smart-decisions/#intelligent_preparation )

How We Make Decisions ( https://fs.blog/smart-decisions/#how_we_decide )

General Thinking Concepts ( https://fs.blog/smart-decisions/#general_thinking_concepts )

Add To Your Decision Making Skills ( https://fs.blog/smart-decisions/#general_thinking_concepts )

Books to Improve Decisions ( https://fs.blog/smart-decisions/#books_to_improve_decisions )



There are plenty of good training and / or Refresher videos on wildland fire near-fatal and fatal events on YouTube and Vimeo. Expand your knowledge base - bearing in mind that all of these are based on faulty investigations avoiding the truth of what really happened and why. All of them with the alleged "investigators" that deliberately first established a conclusion, then found the "facts" to support it; often having the gall to call them "Factual."


Dramatists and novelists tend to condense and leave out elements that are irrelevant to the kind of stories they want to tell.

The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice. Proverbs 12:15 (NIV)


The frog in the well knows nothing of the mighty ocean.” Japanese Proverb



Dr. Ted Putnam with MTDC and Dude Fire ( https://youtu.be/uJHqakI0Bc0 ) Ted Putnam with the Missoula Technology and Development Center (MTDC) describing fire shelter and personal protective equipment impacts on the June 26, 1990 Dude fire.


Battles Lost. (This is a NWCG video describing our fatality fire history, and our hard lessons learned. The narrator, Doug Copsey, is a professional actor and and narrator.

( https://youtu.be/y_GYZd-Dog4 ) Why are we failing to continue to learn lessons from the past?


Cramer Fire [Virtual] Staff Ride - Opening the Door -- May we learn from their ultimate sacrifice. The 2012 Cramer Fire Staff Ride. This video—a tribute to firefighters Shane Heath and Jeff Allen who lost their lives on the 2003 Cramer Fire—tells the story of the learning and healing that occurred on the 2012 Cramer Fire Staff Ride.

( https://youtu.be/ksMXpJXjj44 )


Cramer Fire Case Study - 2013 Refresher ( https://youtu.be/KBlU8eqH4hk ) A good portion at the beginning was Merl Saleen talking about the 1985 Butte Fire. Interesting!


Clay Springs Fire Burnover - 2012 - A burnover event from the 2012 Clay Springs Fire in Millard County, Utah. Firefighters from the Oak City Fire Department escaped tragedy through decisive thinking and quick action. Learn from their experience. ( https://youtu.be/qe7nl1tqclk )


Beaver Fire Entrapment FLA (2014) At approximately 1730 on August, 11, a Division Supervisor, contract dozer operator and a Heavy Equipment Boss deployed their fire shelters on the Beaver Fire on the Klamath National Forest in northern California (U.S. Forest Service Incident CA-KNF-005497). The individuals involved were improving line on the far western edge of the fire, approximately 2 miles from the fire front.

( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYENvpiv1WA )


Cedar Fire Entrapment Briefing Video (2016) "This is the Cedar Fire Entrapment Briefing video which supports the Cedar Fire Factual Report." Excellent fire weather and fire behavior video clips

( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yeprtvo2xsY )


Surviving a Rotating Plume - Lessons Learned from the Indians Fire Entrapment (2012) "During a wildfire burnout operation in extremely dry fuels, firefighters suddenly observe a massive rotating vertical plume. Unfortunately, the crews who watch it swirl across this ridgeline don't see the plume as an imminent threat to adjoining forces. These people will not underestimate the potential power of a rotating vertical plume ever again."

Another one with excellent fire weather and fire behavior video clips. I question the "firefighters suddenly observe a massive rotating vertical plume" assertion because the whole point of the video is that they watched and photographed and videoed the massive fire whirls for hours.

You get the drift. Literally scores worth of these videos.



Dude Fire - June 26: NWCG 6-Minutes For Safety


"This Day in History is a brief summary of a powerful learning opportunity and is not intended to second guess or be judgmental of decisions and actions. Put yourself in the following situation as if you do not know what the outcome will be. What are the conditions? What are you thinking? What are YOU doing?" ( https://www.nwcg.gov/committee/6mfs/dude-fire )


Well then, on the contrary, we fully intend to second guess or be judgmental of the fatal decisions and actions on the June 1990 Dude Fire.


Put yourself in the following situation as if you do not know what the outcome will be. What are the conditions? What are you thinking? What are YOU doing?



Oakland Hills Fire WUI


Because the Australians are often way ahead of us on fire weather and fire behavior research, consider now an Australian training video on very aggressive to extreme fire behavior in one of their unique fuel types (i.e. stringy bark). The principles of fluid dynamics (fire behavior) are basically the same. Except that these unique fuels characteristics allow for spotting distances of over five (5) miles. The fuel consistency allows the lofted firebrands to burn more like a like cigar and they curl in on themselves allowing them to float in the smoke columns for incredibly long distances without burning up.


Figure 13. testing equipment Source: CFA


Fire Behaviour: Observation & Training - CFA (Country Fire Authority)


"It is important for firefighters to have a good understanding of how vegetation burns under different conditions. This video shows two different types of fire behaviour in the same long unburnt stringy-bark forest. One fire was lit under mild weather, the other under typical bushfire conditions; resulting a stark contrast in fire behaviour."

( https://youtu.be/p1iZPR6aIBc )


Human behavior has been determined to play the largest role in wildland firefighter safety. In all fields of work, especially those (un)known essentially constant wildland fire risks, human behavior is the only factor that is responsible for either increasing or decreasing injury risks. Despite this fact and its key safety function, since the advent of Serious Accident Investigation Teams which then deteriorated to Learning Reviews ad nauseum, human behavior is more often disregarded as the antithesis of what we once called accident "investigations." Instead, they focus on bogus, irrelevant environmental and other irrelevant circumstances. Those are tertiary causal factors and far from the relevant human behaviors that led to the accident. This overemphasis on the irrelevant circumstances fails to consider the fact that the vast majority of accidents result from what is considered a normal work practice, not from known risky behavior.


According to "official" documents, the "Coordinated Response Protocol (CRP) and Learning Review (LR) are designed to make the process as painless as possible for all involved. ... The learning review consists of four phases designed to enhance sensemaking and to include technical, mechanical, and complex assessment of the incident being studied." ... (emphasis added)


( https://training.nwcg.gov/courses/UOHTML/Intro_Facilitated_Learning_Analysis/content/256.html )

( https://www.fs.usda.gov/rmrs/science-spotlights/coordinated-response-protocol-and-learning-review-serious-accidents )


( https://www.wildfirelessons.net/viewdocument/the-coordinated-response-protocol )


( http://wildfiretoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/WP-Coordinated-Response-Protocol-Paper.001.pdf )


Because all they tell are "stories" and fail to lay the necessary blame or find fault, we find it very difficult to rely on much in their reports because they completely fail to examine and / or address the human factors, errors, failures, etc. And telling the truth about what happened is often painful, an often indispensable step in the healing process. And so, because of all this, I consider it contrary to what they want us to accept and believe about it, and so we call it CRaP.


Dr. Herman's conclusions and advice (below) debunk and nullify much, if not most, of the CRaP method of discovering the truth about what truly happened and why. And certainly the necessary healing that follows.


"Because the truth is so difficult to face, survivors often vacillate in reconstructing their stories. Denial of reality makes them feel crazy, but acceptance of the full reality seems beyond what any human being can bear. Both patient and therapist must develop tolerance for some degree of uncertainty, even regarding the basic facts of the story. In the course of reconstruction, the story may change as missing pieces are recovered. This is particularly true in situations where the patient has had significant gaps in memory. Thus both patient and therapist must accept the fact that they do not have complete knowledge, and they must learn to live with ambiguity while exploring at a tolerable pace."


"Survivors understand that the natural human response to horrible events is to put them out of mind. They also understand that those who forget the past are often condemned to repeat it. It is for this reason that public truth‐telling is the common denominator of all social action." (footnote omitted)


"... be secure in the knowledge that simply in her willingness to tell the truth in public, she has taken the action that perpetrators fear the most."


"The survivor who undertakes public action also needs to come to terms with the fact that not every battle will be won. ... ongoing struggle to uphold the rule of law .... willingness to tell the truth in public ... the action that perpetrators fear the most. ..." (all emphasis added)


Herman, J.L., MD (2002) Recovery from psychological trauma. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences (PCN), ( https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1046/j.1440-1819.1998.0520s5S145.x )


Consider now this from the Trolley Experiment paper: "One important question is what the relationship is between a well-told story and one that is true, or ethically insightful."


Overall, based on what we read above regarding the respective FLA, CRaP, RLA, LR, ad nauseum "stories" of these tragedy survivors and what we are to believe from them in the words of the alleged "investigators" crafted into their final reports, we come to this conclusion. They are, at best, fallible ways of constructing what actually occurred and why rather imperfectly, as we then attempt to mentally and emotionally experience it, can distort as much as they illuminate. So should we give them the credence, validity, and weight as sources of truthful insight that "they" expect of us?

Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance Proverbs 1:5 (NIV)


To address the relevant safety challenges, detailed consideration must be given to the common human behavior element. It is important that this training should include the rehearsal of behaviors as "realistic" as possible in order to prevail under stressful conditions, to overcome resorting to what we are normally most familiar with (e.g. South Canyon, Thirty Mile, and YH Fires). Safety critical behaviors must be practiced and over-practiced until they become automatic.


We must conclude that from the YH Fire SAIT-SAIR, and the ongoing attempts to maintain the "no blame, no fault" deception, the WF culture has learned "incomplete lessons."


"They showed that an organizational system failure, not individual failure, was behind both accidents, causing the negative pattern to repeat." This sounds almost identical to what occurred on the YH Fire with the GMHS, and is likely to occur elsewhere on other wildfires because of the "incomplete lessons" learned. (Challenger and Columbia Space Shuttle Disasters author Dianne Vaughan)


We must focus on the "complete" lessons learned in order to reduce the risks associated with wildland fire suppression to: (1) identify causal human behaviors that lead to the accidents; (2) determine the frequency of these behaviors; (3) evaluate and modify, if needed, the training programs and management systems that either (in)directly support the behaviors; and (4) develop a remedial training and management program to do things safely and efficiently.


Vaughan, D., (2005) System effects: on slippery slopes, repeating negative patterns, and learning from mistake? In: Starbuck, W.H., Farjoun, M. (Eds.), Organization at the Limit: Lessons from the Columbia Disaster. Blackwell Publishing, Malden, MA,


( http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.456.5317&rep=rep1&type=pdf )


Unfortunately, and yet realistically, there will always be fatalities - in every work group - due to human behaviors and human factors because personnel do some stupid, unsafe things at times. All we can do is reduce the attitudes and behaviors through "complete" lessons learned. Therein lies the problem.

High Reliability Organizations (HRO)


"In 1984, a group of University of California researchers studied operations and organizational culture in three organizations: the air traffic control system, a nuclear power plant, and U.S. Navy aircraft carriers. Their intent, broadly, was to determine why some organizations that routinely operate in high risk environments endure less than their fair share of accidents. The term “high reliability organization” (HRO) came from this research. Little hard data exists to quantify HROs, but researchers have broadly defined them, and they have described HRO qualities and characteristics. These descriptions may prove useful to organizations that are attempting to model practices and achieve results of high reliability organizations." (BLM HRO Workshop - 2010)


An organization that operates continuously under trying conditions and has fewer than its fair share of major incidents. (Karl E. Weick and Kathleen M. Sutcliffe)


An organization that has succeeded in avoiding catastrophes in an environment where normal accidents can be expected due to risk factors and complexity. (Wikipedia)

Figure 14. High Reliability Organization (HRO) Cultures and Principles Source: NIFC BLM


Karl Weick and Kathleen Sutcliffe cite wildland firefighting crews as one example of a high reliability organization in their book, Managing The Unexpected – Resilient Performance in an Age of Uncertainty. They ask their readers to use our organization as a benchmark, “not because they ‘have it right’ but because they struggle to get it right on a continuous basis.”


Strive to have employees operate in a hyper-vigilant state of mind. Hyper-vigilant employees “recognize even subtle signals, and know that the signal was significant in context.”


Quoting Karlene Roberts in New Challenges to Understanding Organizations, Hunter noted that employees in HROs: "1. Seek perfection but never expect to achieve it. 2. Demand complete safety but never expect it. 3. Dread surprise but always anticipate it. 4. Deliver reliability but never take it for granted. 5. Live by the book but are unwilling to die by it. "

The four key pillars for sustainable risk management taken from James Reason’s Managing the Risks of Organizational Accidents are:


Reporting Culture ~ Safety cultures are dependent on knowledge gained from near misses, mistakes, and other “free lessons.” People must feel willing to discuss their own errors in an open, non-punitive environment.


Just Culture ~ An atmosphere of trust where people are encouraged to provide essential safety-related information yet a clear line is drawn between acceptable and unacceptable behavior.


Flexible Culture ~ One that adapts to changing demands by flattening hierarchies and deferring to expertise regardless of rank.


Learning Culture ~ The combination of candid reporting, justice, and flexibility enables people to witness best practices and learn from ongoing hazard identification and new ways to cope with them.

This is the BLM stance on HROs - All other Agencies and Departments follow these same principles very closely.


There are a number of concepts, systems, methods, and models an organization can use in its “safety culture.” Many are useful, and most are complementary to one another. HRO theory is one of them. Toward this end, BLM fire personnel are encouraged to study HRO characteristics, or any other constructive safety practice, and apply them to their own units."


Tracking Small Failures.

HROs are preoccupied with all failures, especially small ones. Small things that go wrong are often early warning signals of deepening trouble and give insight into the health of the whole system.


A Reluctance to Simplify.


HROs restrain their temptation to simplify through diverse checks and balances, adversarial reviews, and the cultivation of multiple perspectives.


A Sensitivity to Operations.


HROs make strong responses to weak signals (indications that something might be amiss). Everyone values organizing to maintain situational awareness.


A Commitment to Resilience.


HROs pay close attention to their capability to improvise and act — without knowing in advance what will happen.


A Deference to Expertise.


HROs shift decisions away from formal authority toward expertise and experience. Decision making migrates to experts at all levels of the hierarchy.


HROs push decision making down to the front line (point of the spear), and authority migrates to the person with the most expertise, regardless of rank.


Expertise is not confused with experience. Experience by itself does not guarantee expertise. We must scan up and down the chain of command to find the right expertise needed to handle the current or potential problem.


Decision making should migrate to the person with the unique knowledge needed to confront the given situational complexities.


NICC NIFC NWCG HRO website ( https://www.nifc.gov/training/trainingHRO.html )


" ... a less mindful, less informed culture mismanages the unexpected, with fatal results." (emphasis added) Weick and Sutcliffe (2007) Managing the Unexpected. p. 111

Here is another HRO outfit well worth delving into with a lot of links and information sources and opportunities - "The Center for Catastrophic Risk Management (CCRM) is a group of academic researchers and practitioners who recognize the need for interdisciplinary solutions to avoid and mitigate tragic events. This group of internationally recognized experts in the fields of engineering, social science, medicine, public health, public policy, and law was formed following the mismanagement and tragic consequences of Hurricane Katrina to formulate ways for researchers and experts to share their lifesaving knowledge and experience with industry and government." (emphasis added) ( http://ccrm.berkeley.edu/index.shtml )


Figure 15. Center for Catastrophic Risk Management (CCRM) detail and links and more Source: CCRM, NICC

"We must notice anomalies while they are still tractable and can be isolated. They need to be caught before they escalate into a catastrophic accident."


"Most accidents are not the result of a single error, but rather an accumulation of numerous small errors that result in a disproportionately large accident."



HRO Recommended Reading List

Beyond Aviation Human Factors, Daniel E. Maurino, et al.

Managing the Risks of Organizational Accidents, James Reason

Managing the Unexpected, Karl E. Weick and Kathleen M. Sutcliffe

New Challenges to Understanding Organizations, Karlene H. Roberts

Normal Accidents, Charles Perrow

The Limits of Safety, Scott D. Sagan

Pay attention to details as well as the big picture. "Subjects who are asked to imagine small details while they are visualizing a far away or minified object are essentially in an interference situation, ... " (emphasis added) Neisser, U. (1976) Cognition and Reality. p. 147


Subjects who are asked to imagine small details while they are visualizing a far away or minified object are essentially in an interference situation, ...


"More generally, everything that a person learns makes him less susceptible to control. People with knowledge are necessarily harder to manipulate than those who lack it." (emphasis added) Neisser, U. (1976) Cognition and Reality. p. 185


This is a good antidote for the known and recognized nefarious hazardous attitude of groupthink if "everything that a person learns makes him less susceptible to control." And so, WFs and FFs with this "knowledge are necessarily harder to manipulate than those who lack it," then once again this is a good antidote as well.


The following Government Accountability Project (GAP) is for those of you who are speaking Truth to Power.


Government Accountability Project


As transparency, accountability, and 1st Amendment advocates, we condemn violence directed towards members of the press and demonstrators, and stand in solidarity with those who fight to hold the government accountable. We will continue this fight until we as a nation achieve our goal of a free and equitable society for all.


Research consistently identifies fear of retaliation as one of the main reasons employees remain silent despite witnessing wrongdoing. At Government Accountability Project, we know from years of experience that this fear is valid: raising concerns in the workplace frequently results in retaliation rather than the problems being addressed.


David M.Mayer et al (2013) Encouraging employees to report unethical conduct internally: It takes a village. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 121 ( https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0749597813000150?via%3Dihub )




What is the importance of Wildland/Urban Interface

( WUI ) Firefighting?


Wildland fire historically has happened all across the country, not just in the West. “There is no place immune from wildland fire.”


The WUI adds a new fuel type into the mix - structures as a fuel type.


Structure-to-structure ignition


"Structure Protection" vs. "Structure Defense"


Lookout possibilities limited, requiring moving about more than usual


Communication regarding mutual aid situations with different Agencies and / or Departments, municipal, structure, volunteer

Escape Routes along steep, narrow, one-way roads, dead-end roads

Safety Zones are very limited, must rely more on Temporary Refuge Areas (TRAs)

Q&A: Fighting fire in the ever-changing wildland/urban interface

Two chiefs who serve in interface areas address the unique training, planning and operational efforts related to WUI fires (Foskett - 2019 - Fire Rescue 1)


( https://www.firerescue1.com/urban-interface/articles/qa-fighting-fire-in-the-ever-changing-wildlandurban-interface-aQt950xVXQNLGBnH/ )


Excellent points - resist the sense of urgency that may not be present in a traditional wildland fire with the limited situational awareness that can occur during a rapidly developing WUI fire, greatly increasing the risk to firefighters. 


Take the time to build situational awareness and exercise good risk management regardless of how chaotic a WUI Fire may seem during the initial phases.


Teach firefighters to have that overall situational awareness, make sure that you're thinking through all the hazards that are happening, because in this environment, you have so much going on. You've got multiple structures burning, you've got the spreading wildland component you're dealing with, along with all the stuff we call yard debris – that’s everything in between the houses and the wildland, such as propane tanks, boats, cars, RVs, sheds full of all kinds of stuff, including small propane tanks, hazardous materials, paints, fuels, and all of these can be involved, oftentimes, all at the same time.


Firefighters know the hazards when they are each individualized. If they've got a structure fire, they know they have the hazards associated with the typical structure fire – collapse, making sure the power is off, flashover – but now you've added a wildland component, which has all of its own safety issues. Then, you start throwing in car fires and boat fires and all of the toxins that are in the air and the hazardous material. It's so unique in this environment on the safety side of it.


Private fire companies: Friend or foe?

Understanding the role of private fire companies during wildland fires – and why public agency firefighters voice concerns (Rialage - 2019 - Fire Rescue 1)


( https://www.firerescue1.com/wildfire/articles/private-fire-companies-friend-or-foe-bWT1Eh3BehGJCg57/ 

Figure 16. link Source: Fire Rescue 1


THE HYBRIDS - Do you focus on compartmentalizing and handling each hazard as its own problem, or are you asking firefighters to kind of step back and look at it as a total event?


Stepping back and seeing it as more of a total event. We try to challenge firefighters not to compartmentalize early on. We try to tell them to look at that bigger picture.


One of the unique things about the WUI environment is that it changes the whole way that we as Municipal and Structure firefighters are taught and how we think. We're there to save people, their belongings, save stuff, and in this environment, a lot of times in order to save more, you've actually got to sacrifice some. You get to the point where you actually write off structures. It's hard for them to let go of a structure that they've been engaged at, knowing that it's going to burn to the ground, because it's not in our mindset to step away from something. Once we get on something, we want to finish our task. In this environment, it's often hard to teach folks to say, “OK, that structure is already halfway involved. Save the next 10 structures, and we're basically going to have to let that one burn.”


You do not necessarily need wildland apparatus to be effective in many wildland situations. What is important is that the firefighters are adaptive and bring a can-do attitude when planning for and responding to WUI fires. Many urban fire departments already respond to some form of WUI fire; they may call it an outdoor fire, a field fire or some other name. Preparing for WUI fires begins with assessing current training and equipment and determining what it will take to operate safely in the interface. Fortunately, the equipment that is on most fire engines can be effective in WUI operations.


The FIRESCOPE Field Operations Guide (FOG) is another great inexpensive resource that can be placed on every fire engine.


Be used to hooking up to a fire hydrant and remaining stationary on whatever structures are within hose-reach versus remaining mobile


Hydrant infrastructure has failed on us. Electricity go out, so all the water pumps went out while in Los Alamos on the Cerro Grande Fire (escaped RX burn). They had a lot of the urban departments there, and they had 5-inch stretched lines down the streets and water spraying everywhere, and, all of a sudden, everybody's water went dry when the electricity went down and they had no backup power system for the pumping system, so they drained 80,000-gallon water tanks that supplied the city of Los Alamos. Then, at that point, there was no water and the urban firefighters were at a loss because they didn't know how to draft with their trucks.


Density of structures. Ultimately, structure defense is based upon basic wildland tactics and tasks, which include extinguishing embers and spot fires and providing thorough mop-up around homes. Tactical patrol is also a crucial activity to prevent further losses. Gladiator and Little Bear Fires lost houses two days later due to embers lying in wait.


In communities where the homes are close together, it is important to remember that once a few homes ignite, the fuel load of the houses may greatly exceed that of the surrounding vegetation and will create a tremendous amount of embers once ignited. This can rapidly lead to a fire that more closely resembles a conflagration than a wildland fire. In this scenario, the best approach may be to find a location in which an “anchor and hold” tactic can be employed. This may require a reliable water source to be effective.



Silbey, S.S. (2009) Taming Prometheus: Talk about safety and culture. Annu. Rev. Sociol., 35


Abstract: "Talk of safety culture has emerged as a common trope in contemporary scholarship and popular media as an explanation for accidents and as a recipe for improvement in complex sociotechnical systems. Three conceptions of culture appear in talk about safety: culture as causal attitude, culture as engineered organization, and culture as emergent and indeterminate. If we understand culture as sociologists and anthropologists theorize as an indissoluble dialectic of system and practice, as both the product and context of social action, the first two perspectives deploying standard causal logics fail to provide persuasive accounts."


"Displaying affinities with individualist and reductionist epistemologies, safety culture is frequently operationalized in terms of the attitudes and behaviors of individual actors, often the lowest-level actors, with the least authority, in the organizational hierarchy. Sociological critiques claim that culture is emergent and indeterminate and cannot be instrumentalized to prevent technological accidents. Research should explore the features of complex systems that have been elided in the talk of safety culture: normative heterogeneity and conflict, inequalities in power and authority, and competing sets of legitimate interests within organizations."


Silbey (2009) ( https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.soc.34.040507.134707 )



Madsen, P.M. (2009) These Lives Will Not Be Lost in Vain: Organizational Learning from Disaster in U.S. Coal Mining.


Abstract: "The stated purpose of the investigations that invariably follow industrial, transportation, and mining disasters is to learn from those tragedies to prevent future tragedies. But does prior experience with disaster make organizations more capable of preventing future disasters? Do organizations learn from disasters experienced by other organizations? Do organizations learn differently from rare disasters than they do from common minor accidents? In its present state, the organizational safety literature is poorly equipped to answer these questions."

"The present work begins to address this gap by empirically examining how prior organizational experience with disaster affects the likelihood that organizations will experience future disasters. It approaches the issue in the context of fatal U.S. coal mining accidents from 1983 to 2006. The analysis demonstrates that organizations do learn to prevent future disasters through both direct and vicarious experience with disaster. It also indicates that the mechanisms through which organizations learn from disasters differ from those through which they learn from minor accidents."


( https://pubsonline.informs.org/doi/abs/10.1287/orsc.1080.0396 )


Training


Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise. Proverbs 19:20 NIV


Some of the Wildland Fire Courses I took - S130 / S190 / L180 - S131 / S134 / S133 and S215 in the past year, I noticed when I assisted in this year's S130 / S190 / L180 / S134 that the S-190 Student Evaluation Task Sheets seemed pretty cool - no final exam for the S190. Way cool, right? No, not cool.


The Rookie students seemed to treat these questions and information sought on the new-fangled Student Evaluation Task Sheets as the goal of the section or topic we were engaged in at the time. This was far from the goal. And it was somewhat frustrating and distracting because they would continuously go off on a tangent, for example, asking about the infernal "Question #10 - Describe what effect an incoming cold front may have on fire behavior" when we were on a completely different subject area. I (DF) had to digress and resort to 'The COMET Program' on Cold Fronts to mollify their somewhat annoying stubbornness in order to press on.


Figure 17. S-190 Student Evaluation Form Source: NWCG


The infernal "Question #10 - Describe what effect an incoming cold front may have on fire behavior" when we were on a completely different subject area.


( https://www.nwcg.gov/sites/default/files/training/docs/s-190-student-evaluation-task-sheet.pdf )



Figure 18. NWCG S-131 Advance FF / Squad Boss training curriculum management paper #123 (August 20, 2014) to include S-133 (Look Up, Down, and Around) and S-134 (LCES) incorporated into the S-131 curriculum "as appropriate." Source: NWCG, Joy A. Collura


I, Douglas Fir (DF), think unsafe behaviors could possibly begin in the classroom with the Instructors and Students. However, it is more likely to begin with, and carry on from, their immediate Supervisors and Co-workers. As did McDid-Not with his stance that at least Fire Order #10 was "hillbilly" because they were "old" and they (GMHS) were "smarter than that ... much smarter." Third-year WFs and FFs would likely get that from their co-workers and fellow WFs and FFs, which coincidentally and unfortunately, were very likely his Instructors as well.

A former NM State Forestry DMFO and Municipal FD Training Officer indicated that - early in his career - he cared nothing about really learning or retaining any knowledge from the material, because all he wanted to do was "get the job." So then, by extension, it's also possible that this somewhat unsafe mindset or point of view could brew an unsafe attitude, especially during any future leadership training.


I, Joy A. Collura. believe it begins in the classroom and with us the Wildland Fire Instructors (Lead, Co-Instructors and Subject Matter Experts (SME)) and ensuring each Student met their expectations of the Course and Cadre and as well the Cadre feels the Students met the Course Objectives as well as the Cadre's objectives. Many may disagree. That's okay. When my Students leave my classroom, I follow through to ensure their career expectations are being met and hand them the tools to get there. I also have required them to have additional class time if either side- the student or the Cadre still have areas to cover. I watch throughout the days of the Courses to see where changes need to be made to make it the most appropriate learning environment to meet all the Objectives yet I am firm on teaching "old school" with a blend of new styles yet following the NWCG guidelines so the students in a way are having a 'history lesson' too.


Knowing and understanding and discussing the 10 and 18 over and over not like a MEMORY thing like Sports Names but like it means YOUR LIFE...I (DF) was disappointed when Ryan said that he is just trying to remember "10 and 18" to pass the class and we need to make sure there is a PUBLIC DISPLAY that kind of manners is dangerous too...it is not a memory thing...it is a REAL thing. Should BE MORE emphasis on this area.


Figure 19. Jeff Hughes | Training Development Program Manager National Wildfire Coordinating Group email Source: Proton Mail


I received a fast informative professional detailed reply (Monday, May 4, 2020 5:25 PM to Tuesday, May 5, 2020 7:51 AM turn around- I had to note that quality way of Jeff Hughes | Training Development Program Manager National Wildfire Coordinating Group read / opened the email and replied. - Thank you, sir. I sent it to approx. 50 NWCG folks and you were the only reply - SOLID!


On Tuesday, May 5, 2020 7:51 AM, ​Jeff Hughes | Training Development Program Manager National Wildfire Coordinating Group

( jghughes@blm.gov ) :


Joy A. Collura's question: Are there any current Campuses or Academies with more Wildland Fire classes currently open so they can continue to learn "in-person" in Arizona during this COVID 19 phase?


NWCG (Jeff Hughes) reply: NWCG provides course materials for delivery locally. You may search for local deliveries by searching the Wildland Fire Learning Portal (https://wildlandfirelearningportal.net/ ) using the Find Learning button on the top menu.


Joy A. Collura's question: I was also made aware by others "how easy" anyone that can just go print a certification on NWCG

( https://www.nwcg.gov/sites/default/files/publications/pms921-1-full.pdf ) -during the COVID 19? -so will there be ways to ensure there is accountability for those abusing such right to easily access the print fill-in version of the Certificate(s)-

I was wondering if NWCG is going to change that to just Instructors can do that link or a system that "if" they finished the online course then they can print one.


NWCG (Jeff Hughes) reply: NWCG is aware that the certificate may be printed. However, those responsible for entering training data in IQCS/ICS should verify that students attended classes by coordinating with local training officers. As we move to the Wildland Fire Learning Portal, there will be easier ways to track and issue certificates based on online account registration and course completion.


Joy A. Collura's question: So my inquiry is was this a "test" phase or is this the permanent new way - the S-190 Student Evaluation Task sheet?


NWCG (Jeff Hughes) reply: The S-190 Student Evaluation task sheet replaces the previous test and will remain as the final knowledge check.


Joy A. Collura's question: Also I noticed some Instructors do S-190 first and some do S-130. Is that up to the Instructor(s) the order of presenting the NWCG PowerPoints or is there a strict guideline there?


NWCG (Jeff Hughes) reply: Per the Course Description section of the S-130 page: S-190: Introduction to Wildland Fire Behavior is a prerequisite and must have been successfully completed prior to taking the S-130: Firefighter Training, course.

Figure 20. NWCG notification that the S-190 (Wildland Fire Behavior) course is a prerequisite to S-130 (Basic Firefighter). Source: NWCG, Joy A. Collura


Joy A. Collura's question: I also always wondered- how come some of the Arizona Wildfire and Incident Management Academy courses when I get a certificate- the NWCG logo is not on there- I think my M-410 has it and the S130 S190 but Public Information Officer (Social Media) course or Fireline Mobile do not have the logos. Is there a reason for it? I have one from Sierra Blanca Academy which has the NWCG logo and then SMWA has no logo but states " As required by the NWCG Guidelines 2020 WFSTAR Hot Topics and Fire Shelter Practicals, or they say it is a NWCG course but no logo, just wondered if it is an LLC thing or Member / Agency thing? Just trying to understand my Certifications over time. Is there certain LLCs or Agencies or Academies that are suppose to have the logo on the certificates? or are all suppose to have it?


NWCG (Jeff Hughes) reply: There have been various versions of the certificate over the years. The current revised version includes the NWCG logo.


Joy A. Collura's question: Do you all require besides the copy the college has- any of the documents and final exams or the evaluations and best place to snail mail it?

NWCG (Jeff Hughes) reply: Course completion data should be submitted to whomever handles IQCS or ICS for you locally.


Joy A. Collura's question: Does NWCG have ways to see what is near his zip code for work for him?

NWCG (Jeff Hughes) reply: Please refer him to usajobs.gov


Joy A. Collura's question: Do you have at NWCG any further courses that focus on Wildland Fire Mitigation Specialist?

NWCG (Jeff Hughes) reply: Wildland Fire Mitigation Specialist is not listed in the PMS 310-1 and is outside the scope of NWCG.



To all of our students, please know that we are there for life for you. I wonder how many Instructors out there can say the same for their many students - current and past? We may be there for a moment guiding them through the NWCG curriculum, yet, in reality it should start there with occasional to fluent "touch base" efforts to keep building and educating those that are interested, the necessary and needed Wildland Fire Knowledge and Safety that start with the "Old School" Basics, the "10 and 18."

Figure 21. S-130 students performing those favorite motivational exercises. Source: Joy A. Collura


Our preference is that they actually learn the Fire Orders and Watch Out Situations. However, the next best thing are those coveted 600 to 800-word essays on "Why I need to memorize and understand and know how to apply the 'Basic WF Rules and Guidelines.'" And of course, the gosh darn legibility, spelling, punctuation, and grammar things do count.


Former Naval Commander Abrashoff brings up some good points about challenging authority: "In business, as in the Navy, there is a general understanding that 'they' don’t want rules to be questioned or challenged. For employees, the 'they' is the managers; for managers, the 'they' is the executive cadre. I worked hard at convincing my crew that I did want the rules to be questioned and challenged, and that 'they' is 'us.' One of the ways I demonstrated my commitment was to question and challenge rules to my bosses. In the end, both the bosses and my crew listened." (emphasis added) ( Abrashoff 2020 )


Borrowing from Dayal, talking about Yale professor Edward Tufte, the man that took a strong stance against the practice of using mind-numbing PowerPoint presentations, I (DF) encourage you to seek out these types of potential young leaders that are "marvelously and vigorously different, ... [have a] penchant for questioning authority, and ... drive to figure out how a complicated system works from the inside. ... nerds, ... misfits; ... a little more different. ... At some level, we as a society understand that there is a benefit to having curious people, people who continually push the limits, who try new things. But we’d prefer they not go too far; that makes us uncomfortable.' ... There is a societal benefit ... to tolerating, perhaps even nurturing … the crazy ones - the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes. (emphasis added) (Dayal - 2013 - Slate)


Notice how I encouraged you to seek out these types of potential young leaders. For the most part, these folks think out-of-the-box, are unafraid to question authority, and comfortable pushing the envelope. And because of all those qualities, they generally make good supervisors. Give them some leadership training, a radio, and make them responsible for supervising increasing more WFs / FFs in safely and productively accomplishing a task at a time. Hold them accountable.


"In real life, the skill and creativity in ethical thinking about complex cases are in finding the right way of framing the problem. The more contextual knowledge and experience a thinker has, the more they have to draw on in coming to a wise decision." (emphasis added)


The Problem With Thought Experiments ( https://aeon.co/essays/what-is-the-problem-with-ethical-trolley-problems )


Are thoughts experiments experiments at all? Or something else? And do they help us think clearly about ethics or not?

Figure 22. Ryan P. Helms pretending what a "Death By Power Point" looks like from a Student's chair late afternoon. Source: Joy A. Collura


We need to discuss the phrase "DEATH BY POWERPOINT" and what changes can be made to avoid hearing that year after year. If you are, or going to be, a WF, then you are going to have to get used to the fact that we must follow the NWCG Guidelines on the number of minimum hours with some leeway allowed in the content. Allowing for a lot more positive, fervent, and professional input from the Instructors instead of the rote, NWCG blather would be most welcome.


Consider now some ways to avoid what Hedges (2014 - Forbes) called 'felony-level PowerPoint abuse.' ...Interestingly, 'research suggests that the human attention span is getting shorter – and now may be as little as five minutes. So then, if you want to keep people invested, it is crucial to create audience engagement. I want to take a moment and share about someone. I, Joy A Collura, may pick on Brad Mayhew on InvestigativeMEDIA for the SAIT-SAIR and that they may have placed a SAIT-SAIR product out in a limited time, yet he has had a website where he could have, long after, made some of those wrongs right. However, I have to applaud his "room presence" and how he engages an audience at a Conference. Thumbs up, Mayhew. Most presentations resemble monologues, and gradually numb an audience to what you’re saying. An interactive presentation is an engaging one, so ask questions, and design group exercises that get people talking; situations where people can add real value.' (emphasis added) (Forbes)


In addition, 'Most people,' according to Hedges, 'who have endured a terrible PowerPoint presentation will have experienced boredom, followed by frustration, then anger that it took up an hour - or possibly even more - of their lives, and that is time that they will never get back.' (emphasis added) (2014 - Forbes) That is a most unique way to get her 'hostage' point across.


According to Wakefield (BBC), along those same lines, 'a really good visual presentation needs unique photos.' (2015) Wildland fire fatalities - very realistic - though most times depressing, have no problem 'weaving a story that people can relate to, or at least a presentation that accounts for the anxieties, hopes and questions that your audience might have. ... give your audience something that they can relate to.' (emphasis added) (Farshad - 2020 - fppt.com)


What follows are several images of very detailed, very confusing NASA PowerPoint slides titled "Review of Test Data and the backstory behind it.

Figure 23. Review of Columbia Space Shuttle Test Data Powerpoint Slide Source: NASA




Figure 23a-b. Detailed Analysis of Columbia Space Shuttle Test Data Powerpoint Slide Source: NASA













April 15, 2019

Death by PowerPoint: the slide that killed seven people

Human Factors, Presentation Skills

The fact is we know that PowerPoint kills.


Edward Tufte, a Professor at Yale University and expert in communication reviewed the slideshow the Boeing engineers had given NASA, in particular the above slide. His findings were tragically profound.

Firstly, the slide had a misleadingly reassuring title claiming that test data pointed to the tile being able to withstand the foam strike. This was not the case but the presence of the title, centered in the largest font makes this seem the salient, summary point of this slide. This helped Boeing’s message be lost almost immediately.


Secondly, the slide contains four different bullet points with no explanation of what they mean. This means that interpretation is left up to the reader. Is number 1 the main bullet point? Do the bullet points become less important or more? It’s not helped that there’s a change in font sizes as well. In all with bullet points and indents six levels of hierarchy were created. This allowed NASA managers to imply a hierarchy of importance in their head: the writing lower down and in smaller font was ignored. Actually, this had been where the contradictory (and most important) information was placed.

Thirdly, there is a huge amount of text, more than 100 words or figures on one screen. Two words, ‘SOFI’ and ‘ramp’ both mean the same thing: the foam. Vague terms are used. Sufficient is used once, significant or significantly, five times with little or no quantifiable data. As a result this left a lot open to audience interpretation. How much is significant? Is it statistical significance you mean or something else?

Finally the single most important fact, that the foam strike had occurred at forces massively out of test conditions, is hidden at the very bottom. Twelve little words which the audience would have had to wade through more than 100 to get to. If they even managed to keep reading to that point. In the middle it does say that it is possible for the foam to damage the tile. This is in the smallest font, lost.


NASA’s subsequent report criticised technical aspects along with human factors. Their report mentioned an over-reliance on PowerPoint: “The Board views the endemic use of PowerPoint briefing slides instead of technical papers as an illustration of the problematic methods of technical communication at NASA.”


NASA’s subsequent report criticised technical aspects along with human factors. Their report mentioned an over-reliance on PowerPoint: “The Board views the endemic use of PowerPoint briefing slides instead of technical papers as an illustration of the problematic methods of technical communication at NASA.”

Edward Tufte’s full report makes for fascinating reading. Since being released in 1987 PowerPoint has grown exponentially to the point where it is now estimated than thirty million PowerPoint presentations are made every day. Yet, PowerPoint is blamed by academics for killing critical thought. Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos has banned it from meetings. Typing text on a screen and reading it out loud does not count as teaching. An audience reading text off the screen does not count as learning. Imagine if the engineers had put up a slide with just: “foam strike more than 600 times bigger than test data.” Maybe NASA would have listened. Maybe they wouldn’t have attempted re-entry. Next time you’re asked to give a talk remember Columbia. Don’t just jump to your laptop and write out slides of text. Think about your message. Don’t let that message be lost amongst text. Death by PowerPoint is a real thing. Sometimes literally. Thanks for reading - Jamie


Mcdreeamie Musings

( https://mcdreeamiemusings.com/blog/2019/4/13/gsux1h6bnt8lqjd7w2t2mtvfg81uhx )


''In a sense, the real fault of upper management is they didn't look beneath the optimistic surface of the reports of their subordinates,'' he said. Edward R. Tufte, a professor emeritus at Yale University and an expert in the visual presentation of evidence


With everyone focused on screens, no one – least of all the speaker – is internalizing the argument in a way that tests its strength.


Brigadier General McMaster, of the US military, subsequently liken the proliferation of PP presentation in the military to an “internal threat”, saying: “It’s dangerous because it can create the illusion of understanding and the illusion of control. Some problems are not bullet-izable.”


“PowerPoint makes us stupid,” Gen. James N. Mattis of the Marine Corps, the Joint Forces commander, said this month at a military conference in North Carolina. (He spoke without PowerPoint.) Brig. Gen. H. R. McMaster, who banned PowerPoint presentations when he led the successful effort to secure the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar in 2005, followed up at the same conference by likening PowerPoint to an internal threat."


Commanders say that behind all the PowerPoint jokes are serious concerns that the program stifles discussion, critical thinking and thoughtful decision-making. (Bumiller -2010 -NYT)


Senior officers say the program does come in handy when the goal is not imparting information, as in briefings for reporters. The news media sessions often last 25 minutes, with 5 minutes left at the end for questions from anyone still awake. Those types of PowerPoint presentations, Dr. Hammes said, are known as “hypnotizing chickens.” (Gralla - 2010 - ComputerWorld)


In PowerPoint, The facts are, simply, the facts. Since they are presented on a screen as facts, they almost become facts, even if they aren’t facts, or aren’t quite facts yet. Presentation is legitimization. ( Pavlick - 2012 - Spectrum Culture)



Figure 24. Ryan P. Helms showing you he was just kidding for my "camera" to make a point on "Death by Powerpoint". He was never asleep. Source: Joy A. Collura



Figure 25. After I arrived back from a day of guiding two Students the NWCG S130 / S190 / L180 course at Gila County Community College, EAC - Payson College Campus, I was greeted by local elk thankful Ryan was not on one of those O.C. hikes we did. Source: Joy A. Collura



Figure 26. First Year of the S-190 S-190 Student Evaluation Task Sheets - (Jeremy A Fultz) Source: Joy A. Collura



Figure 27. First Year of the S-190 S-190 Student Evaluation Task Sheets - (Ryan P Helms) Source: Joy A. Collura


Figure 28. Captain Jeffery Yungkans Old Business Card Source: Joy A. Collura


During the COVID 19 Phase, Captain Jeffery Yungkans- "last minute" - helped with some sections of the course- "HUGE THANK YOU" to Hellsgate Fire Department.


Figure 29. Captain Jeffery Yungkans showed how to operate the pumps Source: Joy A. Collura


We, as Instructors, had a current hybrid Wildland Firefighter show us the pumps and other areas and how they are being used in 2020, especially during the COVID 19 Phase.


The Lead Instructor did share his "old way" tips as well. I never been on an actual Agency fire yet I have been on Private Sector ones so my input at this time still is not of first hand experience with any Wildland Fire agencies so I ensured that Wildland Firefighters who are "current" with COVID 19 Phase showed the Students.

Figure 29a. Captain Jeffery Yungkans showed Wildland Tools Source: Joy A. Collura


Figure 29b. Captain Jeffery Yungkans showed Wildland Tools. Source: Joy A. Collura


Figure 29c. Captain Jeffery Yungkans showed Wildland Firing Operation Tools - Fusees Source: Joy A. Collura


Figure 29d. Captain Jeffery Yungkans showed us his Wildland Firefighter Pack and its contents Source: Joy A. Collura


Figure 29e. Captain Jeffery Yungkans showed the types of Wildland Fire Trucks and where they are used on a Wildland Fire Source: Joy A. Collura

Figure 29f. Captain Jeffery Yungkans showed us all the hoses and sections and parts to a Type 6 Wildland Fire truck Source: Joy A. Collura


Figure 30. Field Exercise Day / Fire Shelters Source: Joy A. Collura


Figure 30a. Joy A Collura - Field Exercise / Fire Shelter Day - With special guest "Joe Martin" of Monument Fire (2012) present his Fire journey. Thank you Joe. Source: Joy A. Collura


Figure 30b. The Social Distancing Kind of Bump Up - Leap Frog Source: Joy A. Collura

Figure 30c. Constructing Handline Techniques and Rehab Source: Joy A. Collura

Figure 30d. Fire Shelter Exercise Source: Joy A. Collura


Figure 30e. ROYAL Pain in the Behind Fire Shelter Folding Time. Royal PITA Source: Joy A. Collura


Figure 31. Back to the class ... Field Exercise Time over Source: Joy A. Collura


Figure 32. Class Time Source: Joy A. Collura


Figure 33. WUI Section of S-130 Source: Joy A. Collura


Figure 33a. Alibierto's Lunch Receipt - Number 19 customer Source: Joy A. Collura

Figure 34. Class Time Source: Joy A. Collura


Figure 34a. Class Time. Source: Joy A. Collura


Figure 34b. Class Time Source: Joy A. Collura


Figure 35. Class Time Source: Joy A. Collura


The whiteboard drawing (above) in Figure 35, is us examining and discussing and critiquing one of the several prongs of the Downhill Checklist on Page 9, which paradoxically coincides nicely with "Watch Out #9 - Building line downhill with fire below." However, I take umbrage with - and hereby challenge - the prong that says: "Fireline will not lie in or adjacent to a chute or chimney." We think that most, if not all, WFs love to use ridges as a control feature. And by creative design, ALL ridges "lie in or adjacent to a chute or chimney." So then, it's just natural to cautiously, selectively, judiciously build fireline downhill on ridgetops with fire below when those select, opportune times present themselves.


And remember, the original version was the "13 Situations That Shout Watch Out" as seen in the February 26, 2009 Wildfire Today article with the same name. They then became the "18 Watch Out Situations" in 1987 patterned after the NWCG "Standards for Survival" course. These are things we experience on every shift on every wildfire. Therefore, when we experience them or perform them, we are to watch out while applying LCES and the Fire Orders.


Figure 35a. Congrats Jeremy and Ryan. Source: Joy A. Collura


Figure 35b. Congrats Jeremy and Ryan Source: Joy A. Collura



Figure 35c. FireWiZe SolutionZ - Environmentally Friendly! (928) 970-0920 Jeremy A. Fultz- Owner ( Firewise Prevention(s), Lot Clearing, Thinning, Hauling, Trimming, Recycling ) Source: Joy A. Collura


When the frame says "certified" for Jeremy and Ryan - just meant they got their basic wildland certification and on their way to being tied to a local agency. Jeremy is advancing in his Wildland Fire education and in the process to get pack test. Ryan did his pack test and tied in with Captain Chad StLuka (Christopher Kohls Fire Dept) and headed to his first Wildland Fire - Ocotillo ( Cave Creek, Arizona ) late day May 30th, 2020.


( https://www.nwcg.gov/how-to-become-a-wildland-firefighter )

( https://www.nifc.gov/aboutNIFC/about_faq.html )

( https://www.fs.usda.gov/managing-land/fire/careers )

( https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r5/fire-aviation/management/?cid=stelprdb5341420 )

( https://www.nps.gov/subjects/fire/index.htm )

( https://www.firejobs.doi.gov/ )


The Work Capacity Test (WCT) is a series of tests used to determine the capabilities of an individual and ensure he/she is physically able to perform the duties of wildland firefighting. This test is required by every federal agency/bureau before an Incident Qualification Card (red card) can be issued.


I have not done this "WCT" yet but prepared to do an audit if permitted.


In the Fall of 2018, Sean Ware, Prescott Fire Cache, Assistant Manager. U.S. Forest Service, taught me to put as much descriptions as you can on your Resume / Job Application.


I scratched my head because how do you describe the kind of "housewife hiker" I have been? I have been told by family and friends and hubby they are proud for pursuing T R U T H yet how does that make it on some job application? The norm to apply are the young or ones sick of working those 9 to 5 schedules. My style of living I am already shown the great opportunities to travel, lead either an active lifestyle or Academic one and I continue to serve communities on Wildfires just not fighting any fires through any Agencies yet have assisted Private Sectors especially on Forensic Weather tips. The only difference between me and the ones tied to federal, state, or local levels- I receive no financial gains and I work all year long on gaining education and tools to uncover the biggest lie in Wildland Fire history - the Yarnell Hill Fire - I eye-witnessed.


I will do my best to build skills and qualifications and always willing to "brush up" on my outdoor skills and mannerisms. I will keep my will, power of attorney, life insurance policy and etc. all in order as I keep peeling the layers of the lies.


Wildland firefighting is an extremely hazardous profession with HAZ pay yet nothing like we do all these years in our research -never getting a dime putting all our energy and monies in the difficult right thing to do.


Before Ryan or Jeremy leave for Fire Season 2020, I made sure to cover all possible areas and every season all Firefighters should make sure all their affairs are in order and I do not mean "love" ones but "loved" ones. While we spent extra time and hours outside the NWCG protocols with Ryan and Jeremy and that training and safety precautions may reduce the risk of injury and or death for any wildland firefighter, it remains a possibility. I know they gained the basics and then some. I hope they continue to gain knowledge and education and have safe Fire Seasons year after year.


People ask me after all these certifications will I become a Wildland Firefighter to an Agency? I am aiming to do Law and Fire Investigator with Forensic Weather- God-willing, because in the end it is God's path I am on.


I always have to now remember due to recently learning from Fred J Schoeffler of the work capacity test (WCT). If you don't meet the requirements for the test initially, you have two weeks in which to take it again. If unsuccessful the second time, you will likely not be accepted for the position. The WCT is often referred to as the pack test because it requires applicants to hike several miles with a 45-pound pack. I know my public sharing on my health - I have always through my Courses and Conferences kept my medical clearance form and or status nearby. I have not yet shared all that with the world but when my life chapter is completed than you will all get to see that area.


If you just were released from the prison system and unsure what career path you want to go into- reach me. There are no federal or state laws in the US that prohibit hiring felons as firefighters. In fact, some excellent wildfire crews are made up entirely of incarcerated felons.


Someone asked me- "Can I be a hotshot, Joy?" - My reply was if you mean a "Wildland Hotshot" and not just a term of ego than you have to have Superior training and physical strength and endurance and accept there is multi jurisdictions and many agencies and the typical applicant has done a couple Fire Seasons of prior experience on Wildfire Suppression Crews, and if not additional qualifications like EMT, Sawyer, Aviation, etc.


In the past, when I have pulled my FOIAs and PRRs and it is "who you know" as well so to me that is a watchout when going in this because you may be under one of those pencil-whipped ones at some point and you can reach us on the tools to work under those environments.




Figure 35d. Ryan P. Helms - Source: Joy A. Collura


Ryan took his pack test May 16th, 2020 late afternoon and ready for Fire Season 2020. Captain Chad StLuka of Christopher Kohl's Fire Department suggested to Ryan after the pack test - do the Season for some Wildland Fire experience under his belt before doing S-131 so he knows what is being taught. The Captain's Crew will definitely be drilling the 10 and 18 into Ryan and explain why each one is important. Jeremy is advancing in his education to meet his Fire Wise Mitigation Specialist goals while Ryan is ready to head out for this Season 2020.


Figure 35e. Our Congrats Card to you both- To a Safe Fire Season 2020 for all. Source: Joy A. Collura

Figure 36. Joy A Collura at EAC- Payson College Campus Source: Joy A. Collura


I have spoken on IM about my stance on COVID 19. In addition, you get to save money on makeup ;)


Figure 37. Mr. Stray Cat meets Mr. Coatimundi who likes to come and say hello on the porch Source: Joy A. Collura

Figure 37a. Hello says Mr. Coatimundi Source: Joy A. Collura

Figure 38. Congratulations Cards Message Source: Joy A. Collura


Figure 39. Due to Former Payson FD Fire Chief Marty deMasi leaving the EAC Wildland Fire Program, we were able to do it for 2020 at the Payson College. Source: Joy A. Collura


Nothing great comes easy and that is what I tell each student that comes my way- and it does not happen over night. (it certainly takes longer than one night)



Figure 40. Alkalizing phase time. Source: Joy A. Collura


A year of putting those pounds on and off like crazy.

Figure 41.The framed saying on my desk at the "writing headquarters" in Northern Arizona with Stray Cat in full LCES mode. Source: Joy A. Collura



Figure 42. Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms Source: Joy A. Collura


Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.


All we do on this website, to the best of our abilities, is for God and the plans He has for us- like it is said in the Scriptures-


For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11


We need to take care of one another.


I know some out there just wish I would go back to my "housewife hiker" role - yet the importance of all this - we all matter and we all have to remember what you were taught in your Wildland Fire Courses -it begins with Duty * Honor * Respect * Integrity.


There is no room for closet hiding or sweeping under the rugs. You are the most important person to me. When I go, I want the prior, current and future generation of Wildland Firefighters to know we need to laugh and hold another and stand up for another in truth and teach each other the right way and give one another hope.


Wherever I am, there I will be. God placed the right people to my life. You may disagree or challenge such. I have. Certain others have. Yet really to do His Will and His Way ... we both know are own limitations and that is why we are strong "together" each and everyone who keeps trying to gain the truths to lay public on the Yarnell Hill Fire.


Roger Ridley Santa Monica CA - Stand By Me Part One of Seven.

6-22-13 1:29pm Chris MacKenzie IMG_0869 

Source: Yavapai County Records/SAIT Report/Documents.

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