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  • Writer's pictureJOY A COLLURA

Part 4 - 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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Continuing from "Part 1b - Do our Wildland Fire (WF) Instructors foster "complete" lessons learned in the WF culture?"...due to this message when trying to put blog on said I had to break part one into several posts:


"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 ( )

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)

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)

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."

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."



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.

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 is not a memory 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

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 ( ) 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

( ) -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

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.


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


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