The term Students of Fire was coined by USFS Hotshot Superintendent and wildland firefighter the late Paul Gleason. Paul implored all who would listen, the need for “firefighters to begin to realize the importance of being a (lifelong learner or) student of fire.

Students of Fire is an IAWF lead initiative that creates a community of practice within the International Wildland Fire Community.

  • Become a Student of Fire …
  • Become part of the global wildland fire community …
  • Become a member of the International Association of  Wildland Fire (IAWF) …

VISION: A global network of wildland fire practitioners committed to improving the understanding of:

  • Wildland fire and all related natural and social phenomena, and
  • how humans can best live with wildfire to the benefit of all life on earth.

MISSION: To learn about wildfire from personal experience and self reflection, and from the experience of others, and to share those learnings responsibly for the benefit of all.

VALUES: Students of Fire place high value on:

  • openness to ideas;
  • inclusiveness;
  • learning of wildfire and related natural and social phenomena;
  • learning how humans can best live with wildfire;
  • open and respectful dialogue and collaboration;
  • gaining skills and knowledge through reflecting on personal experience and that of others;
  • seeing wildfire incidents as learning opportunities and not as personal failures
  • respect for the environment;
  • the ongoing promotion of fireline safety;
  • the highest standards of
    • respect for self and others
    • personal integrity and ethics
    • respect for privacy of others
    • personal communication

ACTIVITIES: Activities would center on the sharing of experience, learnings and ideas, with the aim of improving understanding of fire and all related matters in line with Paul Gleason’s wish. Students of Fire would support this by facilitating member to member contact.

The Students of Fire Initiative is not a course or program; it is not a chat room or a forum; nor is it linked to an agency or business. You don’t join for what you can get out of it, individual members join for what they can put back into the community for the benefit of future ‘students’!

Students of Fire are:

  • Lifelong Learners – who maintain and enhance their existing Wildfire Knowledge & Skills
  • Role Models – who develop and model high standards of Personal Communication
  • Champions – who promote and foster Fireline Safety within their organizations

IAWF will have chapters of Students of Fire around the world.

How can people get involved in Students of Fire?

  1. Join IAWF
  2. Get information from the Students of Fire tab on the IAWF website
  3. Make contact with the IAWF and they will put you in contact with other Students of Fire
  4. Form a Students of Fire group with interested peers (if you can, but don’t let that be a block to commencing activities)

The  central idea is to encourage people involved in wildfire to become curious about fire behaviour, to improve their knowledge of fire behaviour and fire management in all of its aspects – we feel it is important not to be prescriptive about this.  (For example, “I am a wildfire instructor, a prescribed fire specialist and a trainee FBAN and am also actively interested in the human factors associated with fire operations – individual and team performance, communications, decision-making etc.   I have also begun to realise the value of stories – this could also be an activity for a SoF group i.e. collect stories that have a ‘fire lesson’ of some sort.”)

It is important to encourage membership of IAWF, and to report on the groups activities (maybe publish stories collected) via IAWF, the Student of Fire supporters and sponsors.  We ares giving the project international coverage and vital patronage.

Some ideas for activities:

  1. Start a Fire Journal, or visual diary.  This could be used to record SoF activities, or be a personal record of reflections about experience in fire management.
  2. Think of a fire project to pursue. E.g How can fireline communications be improved?   How can a newly formed crew quickly develop trust and cohesion?  What is known of extreme fire behaviour in the region?
  3. Arrange an event with a speaker with advanced knowledge of an aspect of fire or fire management.
  4. Start a Student of Fire poster wall in a strategic location with interesting papers, articles, photos, stories.
  5. Create a Students of Fire Board.
  6. Report to IAWF on your activities. [email protected].

If you would like to learn more about how to start your own Students of Fire Chapter please contact us via email or phone (01) (406)531-8264