Forest Fire Leadership: Leadership at All Levels


Redding IHC Buggy Rollover FLA Clutch
(Cover Redding IHC Buggy Rollover FLA)

"I had not even touched the base with my family and she was already available (on social networks.)" – Phil

Point # 1: When chaos comes into play, each member of the team is a leader. Be ready to act.

On Tuesday, April 30, Redding IHC Buggy B was involved in an accident with an oncoming vehicle, causing the buggy to overturn and injuring several crew members.

  • Inside the slippery C-21B buggy, the weather has slowed down – one of the crew members is reminded: "I had conversations whole in my head. "Another one is reminded" for me, there was a denial – like, there's no way … ", the driver reminded," You hear stories about it, but it never happens to you … thinking about all this time. "
  • "Even if it is [the truck] on his side, everyone was sitting a little – calm. It's really weird … just like the medical scenario we had experienced the week before. "

We may think that "this" will happen to us, but life is coming. We are training to be ready when chaos arrives. Therefore, be fully present and engaged during the training. Get ready for the day you have to move to action. Redding IHC had just gone through a medical training scenario; training became their reality.

Point # 2: Leadership is about others.

  • For those who were at the back of the buggy, the urge to move came from the need to take care of their crew members. Immediately, they resumed their training and began to treat the most serious wounded.

Upon the arrival of chaos, the team members mobilized to treat the wounded. Some worked with their own pains to provide for others. Situations can be overwhelming, but securing frames in our memory helps our brain to engage and focus when the real event happens.

Item 3: Duty, respect and integrity apply to us all

  • We need to evolve our label to keep pace with our technology. Phil was unable to
    let his family know that he was fine before the news was broadcast on social media. Someone, in his desperate search for "I love", has announced to the world the worst news of a world.
    the family should never receive.
    "One thing that really bothered me, I had not contacted anyone
    in my family, and there is already stuff on social media. I know that my mother goes to worst case scenarios and that I was not
    able to get in touch with them. "
  • Due to social media coverage in the first thirty minutes of the incident, NOPS was
    flooded with phone calls. "People want and sometimes need information. We totally
    respect that. But our job is to provide information and not to repeat what we hear
    from unconfirmed sources. Valuable time is spent on phone calls with those who wish
    information that could be devoted to validating the situation with those currently in office.
    scene.

The technology and its users failed during this accident. The radios were not working properly. People shared information on social media platforms. We can possibly solve the problems of communication with the radios, but we can not repair the users. Common sense and compassion should guide your publication decision. Put yourself in the family's place, would you like to hear about an accident or death involving someone you love via social media? Some may respond with a resounding "yes" to this question; but consider that your position is in the minority and choose caution. Choose the difficult right on easy evil; take a break before posting.

Tips for etiquette and etiquette in social media

Here are some tips on social etiquette and etiquette from learning analysis facilitated by the IED Redding buggy transfer:

  • Rule of gold: Treat others as you would like to be treated.
  • Social media is not an agency notification. Consider delaying positions resulting in injuries and / or deaths to allow families time to notify through the agency's channels.
  • All "news" is not verified. Take into account the source of the information and check the accuracy before posting.

Leadership Challenge in Forest Fires – Fucking A Little Further

  • Review "Leadership Levels" (Leader in the forest fire department, pp. 22-23).
  • Know the responsibilities of your level.
  • Know the responsibilities for the level above and below (if there is one) your level.
  • Be fully present in the workout exercises. Know how to act.
  • Do not assume that you will not be involved or witness an accident. Be ready when the time comes.
  • Take a break before posting on social media.

Levels of Leadership


Leaders provide a goal, direction, and motivation to those they lead. While these leadership requirements are similar for leaders at different levels of an organization, the challenges and the perspective required to meet them are significantly different at each level.

Those in the role of one disciple have a number of responsibilities: become proficient in basic work
skills; take initiative and learn from others; ask questions and develop communication skills.

Leaders of people to have increasing challenges. They accept responsibility not only for their own actions, but also for those of their team. People's leaders act to build credibility: they put the team in front of themselves, demonstrate trust, master critical technical skills, and instill organizational values ​​in their teams.

For a leader of leaders, the distance separating the leader increases the challenges of leadership. Junior leaders often work elsewhere, making face-to-face communication impossible.


As a result, the conditions for building trust are more complex. but even in this case, trust has to withstand time and distance constraints, allowing leaders to confidently communicate their intentions and delegate their responsibilities. These leaders act as a link between the organization and the people on the ground, translating vision into mission, translating abstract ideas so that subordinate leaders can take definitive action.

For leaders of organizations, challenges become more and more general and future. These leaders handle the most complex and high profile incidents.

Our organizational leaders plan their future operations and mentor promising individuals for key roles in our organizations. They represent the face of the forest fire department for co-operators, stakeholders and the general public. The decisions made by these leaders have important and far-reaching effects.


Pam McDonald is an editor and publisher for BLM Wildland Fire Training and Workforce Development and a member of the NWCG Leadership subcommittee. The expressions are those of the author.