National Wildfire Coordinating Group

2021 WOR Day 7: Preparing for Our Future

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Today is the twenty-seventh anniversary of a single shift on the South Canyon Fire that took the lives of 14 firefighters. We use this solemn day to remember that instance as we culminate a week of reflection to honor all our sisters and brothers who have perished in the line of duty. We honor them through learning.

Walkway lined with memorial plaques and surrounded by green grass, brush, and trees.

Wildland Firefighters Monument, Boise, Idaho.

We have used this week to reflect on the twentieth anniversary of the Thirtymile Fire. We studied this incident using some of the tools developed partly because of this fire’s tragic events. Lessons from Thirtymile have changed the wildland fire service in several ways. One such change is that Thirtymile influenced the shift in focus from accident investigations toward learning reviews and the emphasis on studying unintended outcomes rather than fault-finding after an incident. At the time Thirtymile occurred, these concepts were in their infancy. Today the culture has changed and more readily embraces learning. The events surrounding the Thirtymile Fire helped bring that change.

We reviewed responsibilities of Followers, New Leaders, and Leaders of People. Consider how individuals at the other Levels of Leadership have learned from Thirtymile and other events. Consider how leaders at all levels have applied these lessons to change the wildland fire service.

We also studied how group dynamics impact situation awareness, communication, and decision-making.

We looked at the importance of caring for ourselves and others in the aftermath of traumatic events.

On this final day we ask you to think about what you have learned from this week of reflection. Identify what lessons and insights you will use in future operations.

A purple ribbon symbolizing remembrance of those who have passed away.Discussion Questions:

Within your group, discuss the most impactful lessons from the week.

  • Think back to day one of this week, how did you answer the question “What have you learned from Thirtymile already?” What new learning have you added through these exercises? What have you learned from the experiences of others?
  • What topics stood out to you from this week?
  • What did you learn about Leadership Levels?
  • What lessons can you apply today?

We, as fellow firefighters, sincerely hope you never experience something like Thirtymile, South Canyon, or Yarnell Hill. But you might. Are you ready?

Remember, we honor our fallen through learning.


Week of Remembrance
Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
Jun 2023

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