IAWF Homepage

Contact Us:

Mikel Robinson
Executive Director

International Association of Wildland Fire
1418 Washburn Street
Missoula, Montana 59801
(406) 531-8264
Toll Free from US & Canada:
(888) 440-IAWF (4293)






12th International Wildland Fire Safety Summit

"A New Approach to Wildland Fire Safety"

Presented by the International Association of Wildland Fire

October 25 - 26, 2012

Citigate Central in the Haymarket

Sydney, Australia


Two workshops are being offered, scheduled for Wednesday, October 24. The cost to participate in the workshops is $45/each or $80 for both. Space is limited so register today to reserve your space.

8:30 - 12:30 pm

Being Wrong, Being Human: Using Failure as a Recipe for Success
Presented by Dave Thomas, Renoveling, Ogden, Utah USA

This half-day hands-on workshop will train wildland firefighters in the basic skills necessary to anticipate problems before they occur. This workshop, utilizing the paradoxical notion that we humans are hard-wired to “be wrong” rather than to “be right,” will help establish a workplace environment where you and your team’s performance as wildland firefighters is improved. 

The workshop’s key purpose is to instill in students a deeper awareness of how thinking errors can be silently embedded in such cognitive processes as “rules of thumb,” “over-simplifications” and the human hesitation to always “fear the worst.” We will demonstrate how such methods of thinking can slop-over into how we frame decisions, and then we will show how inappropriate decision framing can sometimes lead to serious mistakes on the fireline. 

It is our belief that if small advances can be made in how we think about problems vast improvements can be made in firefighting safety and in the decision making processes used to manage fires in the wildland urban interface and on prescribed burns.

The theoretical basis for this workshop is located in the “being-wrong” studies of Kathryn Schultz (Being Wrong:  Adventures at the Margin of Error), in Karl Weick and Kathleen Sutcliffe’s model of high reliability organizing (Managing the Unexpected: Resilient Performance in an Age of Uncertainty) and in Daniel Kahneman’s heuristic models common to people who work in fields where outcomes are uncertain (Thinking, Fast and Slow). 

Specifically, students will leave this workshop with the following objectives being met:

Even though the foundation for this workshop is based on scientific research taken from cognitive psychology, our intent is not to just discuss the science but to offer firefighters a basic hands-on, practical set of procedures that can immediately be used in the field.  The design of the workshop uses case-in-point teaching methods, where the instructor introduces a key point, and then facilitates a high quality discussion of its pros and cons with the whole class.

Many case studies from American wildfire operations—Cerro Grande Fire in New Mexico in May 2000 (an escaped prescribed burn where 250 homes were destroyed with a billion dollars in damages), the Cramer Fire in Idaho in 2003 (two helicopter heli-rappeller’s died while building a helispot above the fire), the 1949 Mann Gulch Fire (13 fatalities, including 12 smokejumpers, on the Helena National Forest in Montana) and the Black Saturday bushfires of 2009 in Australia-- will be used as case studies to make key points. 

1:30 - 5:30 pm

Guidelines for Designing Population Specific Physical Fitness Programs

Presented by Katie Sell, PhD, CSCS, Assistant Professor, Department of Health Professions and Kinesiology, Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York, USA and Debbie Pickersgill, Senior Exercise Physiologist/Medical, Aspire Fitness & Rehabilitation, University of Queensland, Fire & Safety Systems, Brisbane, Australia   

Physical fitness is imperative for wildland firefighters. However, training programs are often implemented with a lack of consideration for individual or population-specific need. This workshop will provide guidelines on selecting assessment batteries pertinent to the physical fitness attributes inherent in firefighting and developing and progressing physical fitness training programs within different wildland firefighter disciplines. This workshop will also review FireFit, a web-based interagency wildland firefighter fitness program created with the intent to provide the interagency wildland fire community with a comprehensive, easy-to-follow, fitness program with the ultimate goal of improving firefighter safety and health and reducing injuries.



Summit participants are encouraged to take part in any of the 71 sports offered at the 2012 World Firefighter's Games

(Oct. 19–28, 2012)