2014 WOR Day 6: Who's Really in Charge of My Safety?
Week of Remembrance June 30-July 6, 2014
“I recently attended a “Safety Summit” to help develop a Strategic Safety Plan. The question was asked, “Who’s responsible for safety?” Management? Leadership? Supervisors?
To answer this question, I reflected on an “awakening” moment for me and felt a shot of adrenaline surge through me and couldn’t be still. Typically I’m quiet in meetings, but this topic touched my soul and I couldn’t hold back.
I reflected on my basic fire school training where I was taught to work hard, keep my head down, and dig…I was very young, up for the task, and “all in.” Exciting stuff!
My first fire was a hike in, lightning struck Ponderosa Pine snag high on a ridge. We made the climb, and I did as instructed; head down, dig and work hard. My squad boss was “looking out for me” as I mopped under this huge snag and I stirred and mixed the embers.
I had an uncomfortable feeling inside but was determined to prove myself as a firefighter. I didn’t like being under a big snag on fire, but went with my training and watched my squad boss. Suddenly, an overwhelming force launched me off my feet and I dove downhill. The top of the snag had fallen and miraculously missed me by inches. I broke two fingers in the dive but am very grateful to be alive!
So, the lesson I learned through this experience, and to answer the original question, is that I am absolutely in charge of my own safety. Keeping myself alive is something I cannot delegate to someone else. I must listen to that “feeling” and react. We work as a team and take care of each other, but definitely speak up if something doesn’t feel right.
YOU are ultimately in charge of your safety.”
Written by Tim Blake
NWCG Preparedness Branch Coordinator
- There will be situations where you lack experience and must rely on someone with more experience. What's the balance between self-reliance and deference to expertise?
- As a leader, how do you encourage your people to think for themselves yet work as team?
Note: Your IRPG contains tools, guidelines and information to evaluate and mitigate risk, and if conditions warrant, how to properly refuse risk. Page 19-20.
Incident Management Situation Report (IMSR)
10 Standard Firefighting Orders, PMS 110
18 Watch Out Situations, PMS 118
10 & 18 Poster, PMS 110-18
NWCG Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG), PMS 461
RT-130, Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher (WFSTAR)
Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations (Red Book)
Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center