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USDA Forest Service
Vol. 3 - October 22, 2006

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The Peer Review Principle

Implementation of a doctrinal approach to fire management requires performance management systems that are designed to improve workforce decision-making. Peer Reviews provide a framework for evaluation of decisions, behaviors, and contributing factors (organizational, environmental, social…) that lead to human success/failure and a means to learn from a variety of situations, including close calls, significant events, and routine performance evaluations.
Our purpose for developing this process is to reduce errors by correcting or reinforcing upstream behaviors and other factors. The objective is to create a culture that expects and values Peer Reviews as an important means to develop lessons learned, identify latent defects, and as a catalyst for positive change.

The immediate product of the Peer Review is a written disclosure of lessons learned, including the story of the event and the reasons it unfolded the way it did. Benefits of the Peer Review process and report include:

  • providing feedback on performance, possibly including areas of potential improvement
  • assisting the supervisor, program manager, and line officer in the evaluation and improvement of employee development efforts
  • helping in the amendment of training strategies and materials, policy (principles and rules), and operating procedures
  • supplying subject matter for presentations, briefings, job hazard analyses, safety alerts, and other communication opportunities
  • contributing with other information, to a higher level lessons-learned analysis
  • promoting long-term positive shifts in the organization and the culture

The Peer Review principle has been used by the Forest Service for review of several events including the Tarkio I-90 Shelter Deployment (Region 1), Little Venus Deployment (Region 2), Balls Canyon Near-Miss (Region 5) and the Gash Creek Fire (Region 1). Two of these reports are published on the Wildfire Lessons Learned Center website at http://www.wildfirelessons.net/Home.aspx for your review. These stories help us to validate doctrinal principles and speak volumes about our implementation behaviors.

“Look hard at free lessons vs. waiting for tragedies”. (Karl Weick)

US Forest Service
Fire and Aviation Management
Risk Management and Human Performance Team
3833 So. Development Ave.
Boise, ID 83705-5354


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