Using escaped prescribed fire reviews to improve organizational learning

Results have been released for an evaluation of the review process for escaped prescribed fires to attempt to determine if reviews are contributing to or inhibiting achievement of organizational learning. The entire report is here, and below is a very brief summary provided by the Joint Fire Science Program:


RESULTS: Based on conversations in a series of workshops and follow-up interviews, researchers identified several elements of the review process that best facilitate organizational learning:

Local Leadership: The local leader sets the tone for creating a learning environment in the unit. When an escape does occur, involving the local fire leadership in a discussion about the purpose and process of a review can dramatically improve the local learning environment.

Review Team: Review team members act as witnesses and facilitators to first help the local unit make sense of what they experienced. They do this by providing for psychological safety and by emphasizing listening without judgment.

Boundary Management: Boundaries for information that should be shared and not shared, and with whom, are continually identified and respected.

Transfer: The learning modalities need to simulate the spaces of action in which people actually work.

Follow Through: Just as a burn plan needs to account for mop-up and monitoring, so does the review of an escape prescribed fire need to provide for follow through to promote learning.

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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.

2 thoughts on “Using escaped prescribed fire reviews to improve organizational learning”

  1. It would be better to follow the requirements of the prescription in the first place instead of forcing adherence to acreage goals and burning outside of prescription when escapes are more likely.

  2. If there are standards and they are enforced, organizational learning is possible.

    With respect to investigations, first paragraph pretty well sums it up. Find out “why” and leave the “who” out of it.


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