The Mann Gulch wildfire was a tragic event that took the lives of 13 firefighters who had jumped into the area to battle the fast-moving fire. The tragedy was a severe hit to the Forest Service, which had not experienced a death during a decade of smoke jumping (Rothermel, 1993). Along with the horrific deaths, Rothermel (1993) states the Mann Gulch fire had serious consequences for the Forest Service and its research branch. The fire disaster changed the landscape of wildfire firefighting. Due to the tragedy, the Forest Service would establish new training techniques and improved safety measures for its firefighters and smokejumpers along with more emphasis on fire research and the science of fire behavior (Lehman, 2009). With the training and research, better firefighting techniques and equipment evolved (Lehman, 2009). The analysis will evaluate how the firefighters applied the concepts of decision making in their emergency response, whether they used prescriptive or descriptive decision making, and the steps I would take in evaluating decisions made in that situation.
In 1949, a storm passed through the Mann Gulch area resulting in a lightning strike which set a fire in the thick forest. With fire conditions worsening the next day, smokejumpers were dispatched to the area. To start the tragic events, the firefighter’s radio was destroyed after the drop due to a failed parachute. Next, the crew met ranger Harrison, collected their supplies, and ate their dinner. Late in the afternoon, the crew started to move along the south side of the gulch to surround the fire (Weick, 1993). According to Weick (1993), leaders Dodge and Harrison scouted ahead and realized they were in a very bad situation so...
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...Additionally the information has provided an analysis of the decisions made in the Mann Gulch situation. This was a horrible tragedy, which could have possibly been avoided with better preparation and decision-making. The crew went in very much underprepared and were quickly overtaken by the fire. The crew lost all faith in their leader due to the multiple decision-making changes, including abandoning their equipment. When that final order was given to join Dodge in the escape fire, clear communication, familiarity, and trust were missing, resulting in the crew failing to understand that Dodge was actually setting the fire to clear an area in which they would be safe (Weick, 1992). As Weick (1992) states, if the role system collapses among people for whom trust, honesty, and self-respect are weak, then they are on their own and this was the case at Mann Gulch.
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