Since the “Pulaski Conference” (June 2005)
and the Chief’s letter (January 26, 2006) accepting the principles
“forming the foundational doctrine for fire suppression in the Forest
Service,” many in the fire community have been asking: “Hey!
What’s the status of the fire suppression doctrine?” Here’s
- During May 2007, FAM completed several instrumental
workshops focused on re-drafting key Chapters of the Forest Service
Manual related to fire suppression, specifically Chapter 5100
– Fire Management and 5130 – Wildland Fire
Suppression. The purposes for analyzing, reviewing and editing
these chapters were to form and incorporate the foundational doctrine
principles for implementing Fire Suppression Doctrine which included
validating the existing manual for currency with policy, direction,
and overall change. <www.fs.fed.us/fire/doctrine>
- The present projected timeline for wildland Fire Suppression
Doctrine implementation at the field level is January 01, 2008 - the
“traditional” start of both the annual and national fire
- Concurrently, additional sub-chapters of the entire
FSM - 5100 Fire Management are being revised in order to incorporate
foundational doctrine principles into the other FAM program areas. These
include: Chapter 5150 - Fuels Management and Chapter
5140 - Wildland Fire Use.
- Additionally, FSM 5700 – Aviation Management
is also undergoing review with the same projected timeline for inclusion
into Direction and implementation.
- FAM will be seeking authority for implementation initially
through the issuance of an “Interim Directive” or ID.
- The target date for the draft ID issuance is October
- Interim Directives, upon signature, become official
direction for a period of 18 months. The ID will allow for time necessary
to align handbooks, standards, and other agency and interagency documents.
- Remaining work includes finalizing manual language,
incorporating the rest of the FSM 5100 chapter adaptations, and small
task group assignments to insure FS suppression doctrine mixes and blends
cohesively with established standards, interagency guides and common
suppression related materials.
- The target date for the final Forest Service 5100
rewrite is expected later this summer.
- The fire suppression doctrine and the overall programmatic
FAM foundational doctrine efforts are being well received with participatory
involvement from Department of the Interior and FS Partnership Council
In general, the overall success with implementing fire
suppression doctrine is continuing via active collaboration with inter-departmental
representation from partners and cooperators. The agency is also ensuring
key oversight groups are being kept well informed and educated, with a
focus on long- term fire and aviation organization and cultural growth.
Maintaining the understanding and support of the Occupational Safety and
Health Administration (OSHA), the USDA Office of General Council (OGC)
and the USDA Office of Inspector General (OIG) remain a key focus area.
The following comments are shared from Fire Management
- “Doctrinal thinking” unlocks the human
mind to help better manage challenge. Over time, Doctrine and foundational
principles will serve to strengthen our profession.”
- Doctrine allows us to operate as a “thinking
culture” – a culture whose actions reflect knowledge, experience,
awareness, and the essential use of judgment.”
- “Suppression doctrine must allow for the mindful
application of fireline knowledge and experience to intermix with skill,
current information and the understanding of leader’s intent to
do the right thing: protect firefighter lives and reduce overall exposure
- “Implementing Doctrine is an anchor point for
change. Its time has come.”
- “We already have the tools to implement doctrine,
what we need to do now is build upon our organizational capacity to
operate under sound risk management principles.”
- Operating in today’s unpredictable wildland
fire environment is no longer a reason for “business as usual”
– maintaining situational awareness during critical moments and
accurate size-up of fire line dynamics must never be constrained by
overburdening checklists and fear of reprisal for thinking fast and
making appropriate decisions.”
- “Having doctrinal principles to support us can
only help to strengthen our profession and raise the overall collective
consciousness of who we are and what we do.”
Although some people visualize “doctrine”
as a material item that can be physically touched and held, felt among
others, or just another item that can be shelved on a desk or credenza,
it certainly is not! Doctrine and its foundational principles
are a mindset, a way of focus and understanding. Doctrine is a precursor
to action; it includes analysis, judgment, awareness and principles. It
can be taught, but only to the degree one can understand it via its foundational
principles and upon acting from experiences gained from past decisions,
trigger points from prior learning, and thru the passing of portals where
one sees reality as it is as least expected.
The concept of fire suppression doctrine is an enabler
of “how” to think under variable conditions; and more importantly,
how to do so under change. The concepts of wildland firefighting, even
as we recognize them today - are constantly changing. What doctrinal thinking
brings to the fire environment is the empowerment of the professional
wildland firefighter to think, make decisions, and increase personal awareness,
responsibility and accountability.
Lastly, as we continue upon this journey,
we anticipate that our partners will join us in this venture. What we
are seeking is empowering the ability to think independently, make appropriate
decisions, and ultimately - strengthening our profession. As Fire Suppression
Doctrine and Fire Management foundational principles continue to evolve,
look for future issues of “Doctrine Dialogue” for information
Questions or Comments?
Contact: Bill Waterbury, Risk Management Asst.
Director, NIFC – 208-387-5614 or Staff
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