As our work on the 2017 Annual Incident Review Summary continues, we’ve got some more analysis to share with you. Read this. Do the Exercise and give us some feedback. The final version of the 2017 Annual Incident Review Summary will be out soon!
By Travis Dotson
In 2017, the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center gathered information on more than 130 incidents. Most of these incidents have some sort of report. Many of these reports contain lessons from the perspective of those involved. Here are a few of those lessons – straight out of the reports. Click on the links to the reports if you want more context.
“It’s always nice if fallers have an opportunity to assess and fell hazard trees in an area prior to other firefighters coming in. This is not always available or convenient.
–When receiving your assignment, do you always ask if fallers have been through the area?
-What specific scenarios will trigger you to not work in an area until a full hazard tree assessment has been done?”
Plan for Slow
“When establishing trigger points, considerations have to be made for the slow operational speed of heavy equipment (2-3 mph), the slow process for loading and transporting heavy equipment, and the length of the escape route.”
“Effective communications and lookouts ensured that personnel escaped prior to being overrun by the fire. However, there was little margin for error.”
Use the Lessons
“ ‘Previous FLAs that I found on a quick Google search helped me make my decision to go to the ER. They were a good resource.’ Ricky cites the following document—created for Crew Leaders to carry with them and take to the hospital when presenting someone with a potential case of Rhabdomyolysis—as being especially helpful in his case: Rhabdomyolysis in Wildland Firefighters”
Get Gone or Look Up?
“Do you focus on escape and not pause to look back? Or do you take a few steps and pause for a quick glance back to make sure everything is good? You will have to make this decision for yourself. Use this incident as a way to discuss this ‘where to look’ dilemma with fellow sawyers.”
Don’t Trust Your Brain
“When it comes to assessing fatigue, listen to your body and what it is telling you, not your mind. It may be necessary to accept low-quality rest in order to eliminate driving exposure when your body is tired. The lack of sleep adversely affects sound decision making.”
There you have it, just a few lessons from the front.
Remember, these are just words. YOU choose if they become action.
Circle up and do this simple exercise:
- Identify one of these five lessons that is most important to you.
- Write down two steps you can take to implement/practice your chosen lesson.
- Share your top-priority lesson and implementation steps.
- Discuss what you do with lessons that can’t be implemented until you’re out on the fireline…how can you improve the likelihood of remembering the lesson?