Adaptability/Flexibility During High-Tempo Periods

Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
Aug 2021


The success of a firefighter’s mission depends upon the crew’s ability to alter behavior and dynamically manage resources to meet situational demands. 

Adaptability/flexibility allows firefighters to alter a course of action based on new information, maintain constructive behavior under pressure and adapt to internal (body) and external (e.g., fire behavior, new assignment and crew experience levels) changes that occur on the fire ground.

What can make a firefighter successful at adapting or flexing?

  • Recognize and acknowledge change.
  • Anticipate problems by utilizing the risk management assessment in the Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG), PMS 461.
  • Determine if a standard operating procedure (SOP) is appropriate.
  • Interact constructively with others.
  • Maintain the even strain—know those that can’t.

While setting the tone for adaptability/flexibility it is important to establish an open, professional atmosphere that ensures a reporting culture.  Utilizing leader’s intent and the IRPG briefing guide ensure the crew understands the task, project or mission that needs to be accomplished.  The most important tool to utilize while utilizing adaptability/flexibility is good two-way communication.

Discussion Points

  • How would you establish adaptability/flexibility within your station, crew or squad?
  • Discuss a situation or fire behavior scenario where a typical response did not meet the needs and had to adapt or flex to accomplish the mission?
  • When would it be important to become adaptable/flexible during an assignment?


Additional Resources

Incident Management Situation Report (IMSR)
Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG), PMS 461
NWCG Standards for Helicopter Operations, PMS 510
RT-130, Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher (WFSTAR)
Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations (Red Book)
Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center

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