june 2013

BRIEFING: As we gathered the articles for this issue, a theme began to appear. Rather than doom and wagon-circling at current budget woes, the writers were bringing an open and supportive look at what we do well in our profession, as well as what we can and need to do better.

And what mechanism did the writers choose to move us forward? In article after article, the After Action Review appeared. It begins with Bob Mutch’s comments on how we must frame a more sustainable fire policy – a frame, he suggests, that would be inspired if the Forest Service conducted an “After Action Review” of its 2012 suppress- all-fires policy that made little ecological (or fiscal sense), in the minds of Mutch and many seasoned fire observers. Regardless of the outcome of that AAR, he suggests we all need to do our own work in framing our future.

Next, we pair comments by Walt Darran on the U.S. air tank- er program with a Field Report by Rich McCrea on how new aviation resources are integrated into incident operations. Again, the value of an AAR shapes the articles.

And Kathy Clay’s report on how we can (and must) support behavioral health in firefighters reminds us that a solid
ICS structure and meaningful AARs can offer the strongest tools to prepare us to manage both the incidents and the post-traumatic stress of our occupation.

Finally, we close with our second column in a new back- page section – simply called “After Action.” In this issue, Wesley Page, a firefighter transitioning to fire researcher, wanders the IAWF’s recent Fuels Conference, searching
for the trends and advice that might guide our next decades.

What works, what could work better next? The answer from our fireline and institutional AARs are what we, as torch- bearers and fire experts, must share both within and beyond our ranks.