In this issue of Doctrine Dialogue
we describe how and where Fire Suppression Doctrine fits within our
organization by illustrating a safety systems approach to risk management.
This approach to risk management is not new. It has been used for decades
in many other high-risk occupations and has proven to further the evolution
of many diverse safety cultures.
The illustration below highlights the
4 key “pillars” required for sustainable risk management.
Beneath the Policy pillar is where we define our principles-centered
doctrine and recognize our philosophy, rules, guidelines and practices.
The Policy pillar is an essential piece of the process that helps build
the culture needed to meet our intent for reducing accidents and mishaps.
Together, we want to teach this process
- not just state a goal: As logically stated by the Chief:
“Safety is not something we do in addition to the
work; it’s how we do the work.”*
With system safety we can now display
where our endorsed Fire Suppression Doctrine fits. Notably, much of
our top level work has already been accomplished within the Policy pillar:
such as rewriting manuals and drafting new direction.** Also notable
is that where risk management becomes practice, an organization can
begin functioning with higher degrees of “reliability.”
The four pillars of systems safety all point to a midpoint labeled->
“HRO”. Many wildland fire personnel are familiar with the
term: HRO – or “Highly Reliable Organization.”***
Much work has been done in this area and a plethora of information on
HRO’s can be found at the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center’s
web site at www.wildfirelessons.net.)
The tasks and cultures associated with
each pillar complement and contribute to a workable HRO. When all the
checks and balances, principles, training, communications and commitments
that comprise a safety management system are in place; certain culture
traits also arise. These cultures, termed as “just, learning,
informed and flexible, and reporting” become the new norm.
As mentioned in the 2007 summer issue
of Fire Management Today:
“High Reliability Organizations are
built on integrity, nurtured by culture, and refined in the fire of
“As we strive in fire and aviation management
to be an HRO, we carry the knowledge of how our past has shaped us,
how our present situation impacts us, and how our future will challenge
us.” – Tom Harbour, “Anchor Point”
Mentioned almost a year ago, these
words have even more meaning today when we apply the SMS model to our
understanding of the intent of doctrine. Doctrine guides actions through
inter-related process, moving from “pillar to pillar”- policy
to risk management, through training and learning, to program preview
and continuous refinement. Once the processes, and the people associated
with them, are all focused on the central objective of the HRO culture,
we can finally say that doctrine will have been fully implemented. Flexibility,
Innovation, and Adaptability will move the culture forward. And our
goal: preventing accidents and mishaps, and attaining a true safety
culture will be within reach.
If you would like to view other projects
that are working to implement doctrine and to move the FS culture toward
the goal of a Highly Reliable Organization, go to the following website
On this site you can see aviation’s mission risk assessments,
operational risk management reading files, and SMS guides that actually
implement the principles we have discussed.
Well we hope in this short dialogue,
the first of many to come, that some understanding is gained about doctrine,
how it fits, what it fits, and where. Upcoming issues will examine each
of the “Pillars” and associated cultures. One thing we do
want to leave readers with is the message that “Fire Suppression
Doctrine” is alive and well. Please feel free to look at past
issues of “Doctrine Dialogue” at www.fs.fed.us/fire/doctrine/dialogues.html
or consider contacting the FS FAM Risk Management Branch Staff listed
below. We welcome your feedback and comments!
For more information contact:
William C. Waterbury / AD Risk Management
Ron Hanks, Aviation Risk Management and Training Systems @ 208-387-5607
Larry Sutton, Fire Operations Risk Management @208-387-5970
Mike Apicello / Communications & Public Affairs Officer, @ 208
***** ***** *****
• * “Chief’s Safety Policy Statement” / 6700
Letter to all employees; (November 7, 2007)
• ** “Doctrine Dialogue”
Spring Issue 2008; shares status and timelines for Doctrine implementation.
Discusses Policy rewrites in terms of the Forest Service Manual, (FSM
5100 – Fire Management and (FSM 5700 – Fire Aviation Management)
/ also includes status of Interim Direction.
• *** Insights on the “History of HRO”, by Karlene
Roberts, visit: www.apsf.org/resource_center/newsletter/2003/spring/hrohistory.htm
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