Leadership for the Wildland Fire Officer: Leading in a Dangerous Profession

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“. . . an outstanding reference for any firefighter at any point on the leadership journey. . . . Wildland firefighting is not getting any easier. It continues to grow in complexity, risk, and danger and you must be up to the challenge. The people who you will lead are depending on you. You cannot let them down.”
— from the foreword written by Tom Boatner, former Chief of Fire Operations for the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management

About the Book

  • 344 pages
  • Over 230 full-color photos and graphics
  • ISBN 978-1-931301-25-1

Leadership for the Wildland Fire Officer has been written for the

  • Firefighter who wants to learn what it takes to be a fire officer.
  • Firefighter who will be attending leadership training and desires to prepare for the class.
  • Fire officer who wants to review leadership techniques.
  • Fire officer who is about to take on a new role in wildland firefighting.

There are three distinct parts to the book:

  • The first part of the book focuses on the art of leadership, safety, situational awareness, decision-making, and plan development. Whenever possible, the art of leadership is tied to firefighting.
  • The second part focuses on command and control and operations and how leadership is vital to safe and effective firefighting.
  • The last section reviews fourteen fires where firefighters were in harm’s way and some of them died. Understanding the “lessons learned” is critical to recognition of unsafe acts.

The Authors

William C. Teie, Author and Publisher

William C. Teie — Over the course of his 34-year career, Bill worked his way up through the ranks from seasonal firefighter to CAL FIRE‘s Deputy Director for Fire Protection. A charter member of the USA branch of the Institute of Fire Engineers and a past president of the California Fire Chiefs Association, Bill is the author of the Firefighter’s Handbook on Wildland Firefighting, Fire Officer’s Handbook on Wildland Firefighting, Wildland Firefighting Fundamentals, and the series of Fire in the West reports, and he has developed several training and operational aids for the firefighter. In 2004, two of his books were published in South Africa: Fire Manager’s Handbook on Veld and Forest Fires and Veld and Forest Firefighting Fundamentals.

Brian F. Weatherford, Author and Technical Editor

Brian F. Weatherford — Brian held every position from firefighter to chief during his 35-year career in the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. At the time of his retirement, he was the Chief of the Madera-Mariposa-Merced Unit of CAL FIRE. This unit provided wildland and structural fire protection, EMS, and HazMat services to about 65,000 residents in a three-county area of 2.6 million acres. A third generation firefighter and graduate of Humboldt State University, Chief Weatherford has fought major wildfires in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana as well as in California. He served as the CAL FIRE Agency Representative to the Yellowstone Complex forest fires in 1988. He is currently an author and editor of wildland fire articles and books, and a fire protection consultant working primarily with local government fire departments on strategic master plans, program reviews, and budgeting issues.

Timothy M. Murphy, Author and Technical Editor

Timothy M. Murphy — Tim served 32 successful years in Montana’s fire service, including over 18 years as Chief of Fire and Aviation for the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, where he oversaw all fire and aviation functions for the Department. He has also volunteered for 20 years, attaining the rank of Captain and Chief with the West Helena Valley Rural Fire District and Firefighter III with the Missoula Rural Fire District. Chief Murphy belonged to the Board of Directors of the Montana Fire Chiefs Association and also was on the NWCG Incident Operations Working Team and served as liaison to the Canadian ICS Working Team. He has traveled to Australia, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, South Africa and Sri Lanka sharing the Incident Command System. Tim is the past Co-Chair, Emergency Preparedness Committee – Argentina/Montana Partners of the Americas. He is currently a member of the South African ICS Working Team, where ICS will be considered for adoption by several African countries. Tim is currently working for the USDA Forest Service and is assigned to one of the four national Area Command Teams.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Foreword
  • Preface
  • Chapters
    1. Things Fire Officers Need to Know!
    2. The Art of Leadership
    3. Safety in a Dangerous Profession
    4. Situational Awareness
    5. Decision Making
    6. Tactical Planning
    7. Command, Control and Communications
    8. Tactical Operations
    9. Fires We Should Not Forget!
      • Mann Gulch
      • Spanish Ranch
      • Butte
      • Tunnel
      • South Canyon
      • Point
      • Miller’s Reach #2
      • Wingello State Forest
      • Bucklands Crossing
      • Concow
      • Thirtymile
      • Cramer
      • Tuolumne
      • Esperanza
  • Appendices
    1. Resource Capabilities and Utilization
    2. Agency Responsibilities and Authorities
    3. Using an Incident Organizer
    4. About the Team
  • Index

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Supplemental Material