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Risk perception, aensemaking and resilient performance: The sounds of wildland firefighting in action

Posted date: December 14, 2018
Publication Year: 
2016
Authors: Black, Anne E.; Thomas, David; Ziegler, Jennifer; Gabor, Elena; Fox, Rebekah
Publication Series: 
Miscellaneous
Source: Final Report to the Joint Fire Science Program. JFSP Project No. 14-2-01-11. Missoula, MT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 77 p.

Abstract

Managing wildland fire is an exercise in risk perception, sensemaking and resilient performance. Risk perception begins with individual size up of a wildfire to determine a course of action, and then becomes collective as the fire management team builds and continuously updates their common perception of risk. Karl Weick has called this “sensemaking.” This act of communication, of collecting and selecting information, naming it, and passing it on, in various forms and stages of completeness, from one individual or team to another - determines how resilient and effective the team’s performance is. Because all subsequent actions rely on this, the sensemaking involved with risk perception is a critical activity. It is hard work and prone to error, as numerous accident reviews, in the U. S. and abroad, have found. Although advances are being made in the structure of current reviews - such as by including human factors analyses, which helpfully focus on psychological factors (attention, fatigue, etc.) - resilient performance also requires developing a collective perception of risk, and for this analysis of communication and interaction is needed. It is time to take a close, structured look at wildland fire incident communication and interaction processes.

Citation

Black, Anne; Thomas, David; Ziegler, Jennifer; Gabor, Elena; Fox, Rebekah. 2016. Risk perception, aensemaking and resilient performance: The sounds of wildland firefighting in action. Final Report to the Joint Fire Science Program. JFSP Project No. 14-2-01-11. Missoula, MT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 77 p.