Lead by Example awards announced

2011 Lead by Example awards, wildland fireThe recipients for the 2011 Paul Gleason Lead by Example awards were announced today. This year four people were recognized for demonstrating valued leadership traits during or in support of wildland fire operations: Travis Dotson, Tony Doty, Patrick Lookabaugh, and Ralph Thomas.

Here is the text from the announcement issued today at the National Interagency Fire Center:


April 11, 2012

For Immediate Release


Boise, Idaho – Four individuals from the wildland fire service were chosen to receive the ninth national Paul Gleason Lead by Example Award. The recipients were selected for demonstrating valued leadership traits during or in support of wildland fire operations.

The annual award was created to honor Paul Gleason, a wildland firefighter whose career spanned several decades before he succumbed to cancer in 2003. Gleason is best known for developing the LCES (Lookout, Communication, Escape Routes, Safety Zones) concept that became the foundation of wildland firefighter safety. Throughout his career, Gleason led and mentored firefighters, studied and taught wildland fire, and worked to improve firefighter safety. The awards highlight Gleason’s influence on and contribution to wildland fire management, while honoring those who demonstrate the spirit of leadership for which he was known.

The award is sponsored by the Wildland Fire Leadership Development Subcommittee under the National Wildfire Coordinating Group, an interagency, intergovernmental group that works to improve policy, standards, and safety in wildland and prescribed fire management. The Lead by Example Award is based on three categories: motivation and vision; mentoring and teamwork; and innovation or initiative. Individuals and groups from federal, state, local and tribal agencies are eligible for the award.

Award Recipients for 2011

Motivation and Vision

Travis Dotson, Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center, NPS

Throughout a career as a hotshot and smokejumper as well as working at the Fire Use Training Academy (FUTA) and Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center, Travis developed incredible expertise and leadership skills bridging the gap between technical and practical. His high level of integrity has earned respect from colleagues as well as leaving lasting impressions on others with his humble attitude. Recent notable accomplishments include development of the Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG) Dutch Creek Response Protocol insert, involvement with the YouTube video “We Will Never Forget You: Remembering Andy Palmer,” NWCG Committee Chairman of the FireFit Program, continued involvement in Facilitated Learning Analysis and Lessons Learned Review opportunities, and development of mentoring and student goal tracking programs related to FUTA. These accomplishments demonstrate a great example and show true commitment to duty in the wildland fire service.

Mentoring and Teamwork

Tony Doty, Preparedness and Response Division, Office of Emergency Management

Tony’s contribution to wildland firefighter development through training and mentoring is commendable. Over the years, he has provided exemplary leadership as a mentor and training specialist to countless firefighters and incident management teams. As Chief of the Alaska Fire Service’s Branch of Fire Training, Tony ensured students had the necessary facilities and training needed to grow in their careers as firefighters, managers, and future leaders within and outside the wildland fire service. Of special recognition are his efforts to provide a field version of the S-420 course, hosting Alaska’s first L 480 course, and contributions to the Incident Management Organization Succession Planning Team. Tony’s leadership truly embodies the Paul Gleason Lead by Example award.

Mentoring and Teamwork

Patrick Lookabaugh, Whiskeytown Wildland Fire Management, NPS

Throughout Patrick’s career, he has risen to the challenge of mentoring numerous firefighters and building cohesive, adaptable and highly motivated teams. The depth and experience his teams exhibited is a direct reflection of the leadership values he continually communicated and demonstrated. As a leader, Patrick ensures mentoring opportunities are available to those within his organization as well as allowing fire professionals from other agencies to learn by example through detail opportunities within his module. Additionally, Patrick contributed training and development to the wildland fire workforce as an instructor at Shasta College and the Northern California Training Center. These learning and mentoring moments are recognized at the local, regional and national levels. Whiskeytown Fire Management Module’s consistently strong reputation throughout the wildland community is a testament to Patrick’s commitment to developing wildland fire leaders.

Initiative and Innovation

Ralph Thomas, Fort Apache Agency, BIA

Ralph has been instrumental in the development and growth of the BIA’s National Fire Mentoring Program. The program connects upcoming fire leaders with mentors to conduct field-oriented prescribed fire and suppression training. Ralph served as a mentor, field coordinator and role model in the BIA and tribal programs. He organically exhibited many of the leadership principles and values espoused by the leadership program. His quiet confidence is a catalyst to the mentees, providing an atmosphere which encourages time-compressed decision making, rapid team building, tactical skills and leadership development with a diverse mixture of firefighters from around the country in a dynamic environment. Even with advances in modeling programs and decision support tools used to translate data, knowledge and experience to make decisions with fire on the landscape is a crucial part of wildland fire service. The scope of Ralph’s mentoring will be felt for years to come as he continues to train others to conduct themselves with respect, professionalism, and leadership as students of fire.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.