Hazard Mitigation Through Risk Management
Risk management doesn’t get in the way of doing the mission – it is the way we do the mission. The risk management process assists in ensuring that critical factors and risks of the fireline work environment are considered during decision-making. Good risk management utilizes a five-step process:
Step 1 – Situational Awareness:
- Obtain information.
- Scout the fire.
- Identify hazards.
- Consider all aspects of current and future situations.
- Consider known historical problem areas (apply local area information from the Fire Danger PocketCard).
- Recognize the need for action.
- Demonstrate ongoing awareness of fire assignment status.
- Note deviations.
- Attempt to determine why any discrepancies exist before proceeding.
Step 2 – Hazard Assessment:
- Assess hazards to determine risks (e.g., fire behavior, snags, unburned fuels, work/rest).
- Use the Look Up, Down, and Around and the Tactical Watch Outs (both located in the Incident Response Pocket Guide [IRPG], PMS 461) to identify high-risk tactical hazards.
- Assess the impact of each hazard in terms of potential loss, cost, and mission/operational degradation based on probability and severity (probability: how likely an event will occur; severity: consequences if the event occurs). Keep in mind that increased exposure time increases probability.
Step 3 – Hazard Control:
- Determine the best approach to mitigate or control the risk based on the hazards assessed.
- Establish controls (e.g., anchor point, Lookouts, Communications, Escape Routes, and Safety Zones [LCES], utilize downhill checklist, limit exposure time).
- As control measures are developed, reevaluate each risk until it is reduced to a level where benefits outweigh potential costs.
Step 4 – Decision Point (decision to accept or not accept the risks associated with an action):
- Ask yourself: (1) are controls in place for identified hazards, (2) are tactics selected based on expected fire behavior, and (3) are instructions given and understood?
- Make certain the decision is made at the appropriate level. If not, elevate to a higher level.
- Reject the action if the risk is unacceptable.
Step 5 – Evaluation:
- Ensure controls are implemented and accomplished to standards.
- Supervise/evaluate the effectiveness of controls and decisions. Monitor the situation and adjust risk controls as necessary.
- Anticipate consequences of decisions; if controls do not work, determine the problem, and derive a better solution.
- Adjust actions as the situation changes. Maintain situational awareness.
- Solicit and provide feedback throughout the process.
- 10 & 18 Poster, PMS 110-18
- 10 Standard Firefighting Orders, PMS 110
- 18 Watch Out Situations, PMS 118
- Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations (Red Book)
- NWCG Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG), PMS 461
- NWCG Standards for Helicopter Operations, PMS 510
- RT-130, Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher (WFSTAR)
- Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center
Have an idea or feedback?
Share it with the NWCG 6MFS Subcommittee.