Robert Ziel receives Paul Gleason Lead by Example award

Robert (Zeke) Ziel
Robert (Zeke) Ziel

Robert (Zeke) Ziel, the fire analyst for the International Arctic Research Center’s Alaska Fire Science Consortium, was recently named one of the three recipients from across the wildland fire services for the 2019 Paul Gleason Lead by Example award. The award was created by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) Leadership Subcommittee to remember Paul Gleason’s contributions to the wildland fire service. More information about the award, including past recipients, is available on the NWCG website. A group of managers from Alaska and the lower 48, representing the Bureau of Land Management, US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Forest Service, and National Park Service, nominated Zeke for the award. The following information is modified from their submitted nomination.

Zeke has been instrumental in the evolution of the interagency fire management and science enterprise in Alaska on many levels. His work is driven by the thought of how Alaska’s interagency management community might do better in the realm of modeling and analysis, and he has reinvented how fire analysis is performed in Alaska. His curiosity and drive are evident in the tools that are available to fire managers in Alaska today.  For example, his work with Predictive Services to build and maintain the Alaska Fire and Fuels website, an innovative web platform for displaying the fire, fuels and weather environment, as well as engagement with the GIS specialists and web designers to incorporate modeling outputs, have provided managers and decision makers with ‘one-stop shopping’ information.

Through classroom and web-based instruction, development of user guides, analyses relating fire behavior to fuels and weather inputs, and mentoring budding fire analysts, Zeke has enabled practitioners from different backgrounds within the fire community to more fully understand and successfully implement the Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System (CFFDRS) in Alaska. He is a key figure in not only fire behavior, analysis, and decision support, but also the cross-boundary engagement of scientist and practitioners in the lower 48 and across Canada. The fostering of relationships across the continuum of science and practice is clearly Zeke’s passion. He finds opportunities to bring people together who may not otherwise interact. In doing so, there is a momentum that he starts, participates in, and feeds continually to address new ideas, challenges, and initiatives.

At the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Zeke has been involved in several research efforts, including as a member of the Boreal Fires team under the current Alaska EPSCoR Fire and Ice project, funded by the National Science Foundation.

Examples of Zeke’s work:

CFFDRS Online Training Modules (initial framework, development, and implementation)
Fire Behavior Field Reference Guide (continued development and updates)
Why Alaska Fire Potential Assessments Are Different (2018 publication)
Fire Environment Poster (Developed 2019)
Fuel Moisture, Seasonal Severity, and Fire Growth Analysis in the US Fire Behavior Analysis Tools (2017 publication)
CFFDRS FBP Field Guide (2015 Publication)
CFFDRS FWI Field Guide (2015 Publication)
Modeling Fire Growth Potential in Alaska (2015 Publication)

University of Alaska Fairbanks

University exhibit recognizes contributions of Paul Gleason

The exhibit will be at Colorado State University through January 31, 2018

Paul Gleason
Paul Gleason. From Wildland Fire Leadership.

Colorado State University is hosting an exhibit featuring a wildland firefighter who made significant contributions to our culture of safety and leadership. Even though he retired in 2001 and succumbed to cancer two years later his name and legacy live on through the annual Paul Gleason Lead by Example Award and “LCES”. After his experience on the 1990 Dude Fire  he developed the easy to remember concept of “Lookouts, Communications, Escape Routes, and Safety Zones (LCES)” which he distilled from the 10 Standard Firefighting Orders. He as also the first person I knew to use the phrase “student of fire”.

The “Student of Fire” exhibit will be at the Colorado State University’s Morgan Library, room 202, through January 31, 2018, at 1201 Central Avenue Mall, Fort Collins, Colorado. (map)

The article below about Paul and the exhibit was written by Linda Meyer for the University.

Exhibit recognizes contributions of Paul Gleason, wildfire safety pioneer

Morgan Library Archives and Special Collections is featuring an exhibit showcasing the contributions of Paul Gleason to the field of wildland fire science through Jan. 31.

Gleason contributed significant training materials to the field, especially on the topic of firefighter safety. After retiring from a career as a wildland firefighter, leader, and strategist he became a faculty member at Colorado State University in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, where a scholarship has been established in his name.

Karen Miranda Gleason donated her late husband’s papers, photographs and documents detailing events such as the Crosier Mountain prescribed fire west of Fort Collins, to Morgan Library. The collection also features Gleason’s 1991 paper, “Lookouts, Communication, Escape Routes, Safety Zones,” commonly referred to as “LCES” or “the LCES concept,” which has become the foundation of current wildland firefighter safety.

Pioneer in wildfire safety
Born in 1946 in Chicago, Illinois, to a homemaker from Seattle and a Baptist minister from Tacoma, Washington, Gleason grew up in Southern California. Becoming an accomplished rock climber in his teens, he continued to enjoy climbing throughout his life. Correspondence between Gleason and his father often refers to his love of the outdoors and mountaineering.

Gleason’s career as a firefighter began in 1964 in the Angeles National Forest as an 18-year-old member of the Dalton Hotshot Crew. He served with that crew through 1970, interrupted only by a one-year tour of duty with the U.S. Army. From 1971 to 1973, he attended Colorado State University and earned a degree in mathematics.

In 1974, Gleason returned to work as a firefighter, serving as the assistant foreman for a Regional Reinforcement Crew on the Okanogan National Forest. In 1977, he became the assistant superintendent of the ZigZag Hotshot Crew at Mount Hood National Forest, moving into the position of superintendent two years later.

Paul Gleason exhibitGleason began work as a district fire management officer for the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest in 1992, eventually becoming the forest fire ecologist. In 1999, he moved to the position of deputy fire management officer for the Rocky Mountain Region of the National Park Service. Mandatory retirement  in 2001 sent Gleason into academia at age 55. He served as an adjunct professor for the Wildland Fire Science program at Colorado State University for two years before losing his battle with cancer in 2003.

Gleason received numerous awards and recognitions throughout his career. He was heavily involved in three significant fires: the Loop Fire in 1966, the Dude Fire in 1990, and the Cerro Grande Fire in 2000.

Paul Gleason Lead By Example Award

2014 Paul Gleason Award
Left to right: Kip Gray, Dan Olsen, Alex Robertson, Kevin Donham, Brian Scholz, Eric Hipke, Shane Olpin

(This article first appeared at Wildland Fire Leadership.)


The NWCG Leadership Subcommittee is honored to announce the final recipients for the 2014 Paul Gleason Lead by Example Award. Dan Olsen, Deputy Director, Fire and Aviation for the US Forest Service presented the awards during the 2015 South Canyon Staff Ride. Our congratulations on a job well-done goes to the South Canyon Subject Matter Experts:

Kevin Donham
Kip Gray
Eric Hipke
Alex Robertson
Bryan Scholz

We share with you Dan Mallia’s, Redding IHC Superintendent and Paul Cerda’s, Alpine IHC Superintendent, powerful nomination. The words of the field are by far better than what we could have written.


Describe the significance of the accomplishment made by the individual or group in the stated category.

For 12 years, the Redding IHC Leadership Development Program has traveled to the location of the South Canyon fire to conduct the Staff Ride for their crew. Over the years the Redding Hotshots have invited other crews, other federal, state, local, international fire and aviation management employees and Washington Office leadership to walk the ground where the Storm King Mountain tragedy took place. In that time, close to 900 people have been lead through the events of the day in conference groups, to glean information and develop slides that they can reference and avoid an outcome similar to South Canyon.

Bryan Scholz, Alex Robertson and Kip Gray, former Prineville Hotshots and Eric Hipke, former North Cascades smokejumper provide a firsthand recount of the events that unfolded on July, 6th 1994. Kevin Donham, fire staff on the Ochoco N.F. at the time of the tragedy relates a valuable and important side of South Canyon story which highlights the importance of programs like You Will Not Stand Alone and Taking Care of Our Own.

The South Canyon Staff Ride provides a strong learning experience. The dimension added by Alex, Brian, Kip, Eric and Kevin relating their experiences on the day of the tragedy creates an experience that participants will keep with them. Their presence makes a memorable impact on the participants of the Staff Ride.

The lessons learned by these first-hand accounts are forever branded in the minds and hearts of each staff ride participant. These subject matter experts (SMEs), share their thoughts, emotions and explain in great detail the events from their individual perspectives. These discussions are very raw, the amount of emotion and the openness from each SME is a clear path to connect with every staff ride participant including but not limited students and cadre members. The impact of this staff ride is not limited to agency, GS scale or red card qualifications. The impact and first-hand accounts have helped shape and change the trajectory of the fire service culture as we know it today.

Continue reading “Paul Gleason Lead By Example Award”

Paul Cerda receives Lead by Example Award

Paul Cerda, center, receives the Paul Gleason Lead by Example Award. On the left is Mike Lewelling. Jim McMahill is on the right.

Congratulations to Alpine Interagency Hotshot Crew Superintendent Paul Cerda, one of the recipients of the 2014 Paul Gleason Lead by Example Award for motivation and vision.


Paul was recognized for boldly leading with inspired vision and clear intent. His efforts to lead the Alpine Interagency Hotshot Crew to Type 1 Wildland Fire Module status shows his ability to innovate, communicate, and influence change. This bold effort to diversify for the betterment of the wildland fire service took insight and courage.

As an advocate for leadership development, Paul embodies the values of duty, respect and integrity. His vision, motivational ability, and innovative methods to “build the team” demonstrates true passion for his people and those he serves. Paul has not only created depth within his own organization but also strengthened the entire service through your positive influence.

More winners announced for Lead By Example Award

Two weeks ago the National Park Service announced that two of their wildland fire personnel received Paul Gleason Lead By Example Awards for 2013 — Chad Fisher, wildland fire safety program manager, and Jim Shultz, wildland fire training program manager.

Today the National Interagency Fire Center distributed a news release stating that two other Lead By Example awards were also issued. Below is the text of the release (we added the photos of Mr. Seilstad and the Palomar Hotshots; photos of Mr. Fisher and Mr. Shultz are in the previous announcement).


Lead by Example Award Winners for 2013

Boise, Idaho – The National Wildfire Coordinating Group Leadership Subcommittee announced that Chad Fisher, Dr. Carl Seielstad, Jim Shultz and the Palomar Interagency Hotshot Crew were selected for the 2013 Paul Gleason Lead by Example Award. The recipients were nominated for demonstrating valued leadership traits during or in support of wildland fire operations.

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.

The annual award was created to honor Paul Gleason, a wildland firefighter whose career spanned several decades. Gleason is best known for developing the LCES (Lookout, Communication, Escape Routes, Safety Zones) concept that became the foundation of wildland 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.

Award Recipients for 2013

Chad Fisher, National Park Service, National Interagency Fire Center, was selected for his motivation and vision work with the Dutch Creek mitigations which resulted in a change in firefighter safety regardless of size or complexity. Fisher’s dedication to ensure safety across agency boundaries has resulted in a shift in culture regarding incident-within-an-incident planning.

Carl Seielstad 2013
Dr. Carl Seielstad

Dr. Carl Seielstad, College of Forestry and Conservation, University of Montana, was selected for his initiative and innovation by establishing the Wildland Fire Program and Prescribed Fire Practicum in partnership with the Nature Conservancy, which provides students with hands-on leadership and prescribed fire experiences. Seielstad’s visionary leadership offers students a unique opportunity while providing a background to become highly effective fire managers.

Jim Shultz, National Park Service, National Interagency Fire Center, was selected for mentoring and teamwork across agency boundaries through programs like the Fire and Aviation Mentoring program and National Interagency Joint Apprentice Committee. Shultz’s leadership skills and calm demeanor also helped ensure that all honor guards worked together during the Granite Mountain Hotshot Memorial Service

Palomar Hotshots 2013
Palomar Hotshots

The Palomar Interagency Hotshot Crew, Palomar Ranger District/Cleveland National Forest, US Forest Service, was selected for demonstrating initiative and innovation through efforts like their crew website and 2012 “Leadership is Action” video. Palomar Hotshots continue to provide leadership development through non-traditional leadership styles and allow individuals to strive for a higher performance level as a leader.”

Two NPS employees receive Paul Gleason awards

Chad Fisher and Jim Shultz,. NPS, received Paul Gleason award
Chad Fisher and Jim Shultz of the NPS received Paul Gleason Lead By Example awards

From the NPS Morning Report:


“Two staff members from the National Park Service Branch of Wildland Fire were recently awarded the prestigious Paul Gleason Lead by Example Award for 2013. The intent of this award is to recognize individuals or groups who exhibit Gleason’s professional spirit and who exemplify the wildland fire leadership values of duty, respect, and integrity.

Chad Fisher, wildland fire safety program manager, and Jim Shultz, wildland fire training program manager, each received the award. Only three individuals and one group from across the wildland fire service were chosen to receive this national award for 2013.

“To have not just one, but two employees, honored with this interagency award, really highlights the caliber of work and leadership by NPS wildland fire management staff,” said acting National Park Service Wildland Fire Branch Chief Mark Koontz. “Chad and Jim are outstanding representatives in their respective fields.”

bootsIn addition to his mission, vision, and dedication to ensuring that firefighter safety is always the number one objective on all assignments and every fire, regardless of size or complexity, Chad Fisher was recognized for his work with the Dutch Creek mitigations. Chad’s actions to reach across agency boundaries have contributed to a shift in culture regarding incident-within-an-incident planning. His dedicated effort to ensure  that staff  understand, weigh, and communicate the consequences of placing firefighters in harm’s way to decision-makers, along with  ensuring that there is a mechanism to evacuate injured firefighters, sets the example for all to follow.

He was also commended for his work with firefighter nutrition, the Incident Response Pocket Guide revision, leadership development activities, facilitated learning analyses, and serious accident investigation teams. Chad’s leadership exemplifies the values of duty, respect, and integrity.

Jim Shultz was recognized for his ability to develop subordinates across agency boundaries through programs like the Fire and Aviation Mentoring program and the National Interagency Joint Apprentice Committee. As memorial group supervisor for the Honor Guards and Pipes and Drums, Jim’s calm demeanor and leadership skills helped ensure all honor guards worked together to make the Granite Mountain Hotshot Memorial Serviceas seamless as possible.

As an advocate for leadership development, Jim seeks improvement and develops others for the betterment of the individual as well as the team and organization. This has been shown through field assignments and pioneering the wildland fire leadership and career development video series to help young firefighters answer questions regarding the rights steps to take toward a permanent career as a wildland firefighter. Jim exemplifies the values of duty, respect and integrity.

The award was created by the NWCG Leadership Subcommittee to remember Paul Gleason’s contributions to the wildland fire service. During a career spanning five decades, Paul was a dedicated student of fire, a teacher of fire, and a leader of firefighters. The intent of this award is to recognize individuals or groups who exhibit this same spirit and who exemplify the wildland fire leadership values of duty, respect and integrity.

Congratulations to Chad and Jim on their achievements.”


Last year the awards were presented to Anthony Escobar, John Lauer and Shane Olpin.