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  • JOY A COLLURA

Part 1d - 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 1c - 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:

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