A recent investigation undertaken for a forestry client into the occurrence of numerous fires in plantations belonging to the company revealed the importance of effective post-fire debriefing sessions.

By Dave Dobson

Debriefing is conducted in order to review any shortcomings in the company’s fire readiness and to improve on future action.

In the case under investigation a gap was developing in the quality of the company’s fire readiness. The slide was insidious but viewed from the outside – jarring. If matters are not properly aired in debriefing sessions they will clearly not receive attention, and no corrective action will be taken to prevent a further occurrence of any shortcoming.

The problem encountered was that the debriefing sessions were being treated as an annoyance and a waste of time. Staff members, fearing reprisals, were not forthcoming with vital information. There appeared to be an inability to speak freely. “Undiscussables” simply remained undiscussed! For debriefing to be effective dialogue is most important. In order to achieve this a safe haven must be created for all participants.

So how does one create an environment where such issues can be discussed without fear of reprisal? Techniques are available to assist in uncovering themes and initiating valuable discussion. An example of this is the ‘Blackjack’ option I will describe below.

Blackjack
The ‘Blackjack’ option begins by giving each participant in the debriefing session a 12 cm by 6 cm card and a pencil. Without collaboration, each participant must write down one ‘undiscussable’. This should be a statement of a problem and not an attack on an individual. No names, no titles!

Once this has been done, collect the cards and shuffle them. Now allow the participants to each draw a card which is placed face up on the table before them.

Uncovering themes
Each participant must now read out what is written on the card in front of them, after which the card is posted on the wall. Once all the cards have been read and posted on the wall the participants must group them into themes and decide how each theme is to be dealt with.

Keep discussion under control!

Conclusion
Deal with your obvious problems in the traditional manner but occasionally introduce the ‘Blackjack’ option. The results might surprise!

Related article: Ponsse forwarders conversion to fire fighting units



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