I have been attending a conference in Maine; “Igniting Exchange: Bridging the Gap Between Science and Management”. One of the keynote speakers was a retired Navy SEAL, David Cooper, who spoke about behavior driven leadership. What I wondered, did Navy SEAL ethics have to do with wildfire safety efforts?
David spoke about his career and training to be a part of the SEAL Team 2 in 1988. They had to learn a complex set of behaviors and skills. They learned everything from driving race cars, martial arts of course (from one of Bruce Lee’s students), and even how to steal a car. What in the world does this have to do with wildfire preparedness? He shared, that in dynamically changing situations the SEALS had to learn to be adaptable, to draw parallels from what they learned to what they experienced to reduce their risk and eliminate threats. They had an obligation to pass on what they experienced and learned to SEAL newbies. Wow, that is exactly what I see members of Firewise USA™ sites do, mentor new communities just learning how to make their homes safer from wildfire. Although Firewise USA™ sites don’t have to know how to steal a car, they do have to know how homes burn in a dynamically changing environment and how to make oftentimes simple changes to keep their neighborhoods safer from this threat.
Another thing he shared is that SEALs have the courage to say things that people sometimes do not want to hear. Again, I started to think about how many wonderful fire service personnel, forestry folks and residents I have met who have had the courage to tell people what their wildfire risk is and how they can reduce their risk of loss even if it was what they thought people did not want to hear.
Finally, he spoke about the discipline that SEALS must have not just in the line of duty, but also in mundane things like making sure their uniform and personal appearance is perfect. "It is knowing the right thing to do and doing it", David shared. Many folks know what they have to do to reduce their risk of loss due to wildfire but it is only those communities who take action that exhibit the discipline needed to actually improve their overall safety.
SEALS, according to Dave have a mindset that allows them to complete their operations without thinking about failure, so though they do at times suffer loss, it does not deter them from taking action. We can all take steps today, and have this mindset of success, bringing people of all backgrounds together in a functionally diverse group, growing wildfire safety success. We can all translate Navy SEAL ethics into our successful wildfire safety efforts today by participating in Firewise USA™sites, Wildfire Community Preparedness Day and taking action using resources out there to help us like Ready Set Go, Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network and more take real steps to protect our homes and those we love!