Wildland fire behaviour and 'The Course of Science' flowchart: is there a connection?
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Martin E. Alexander
Publication Year: 2009

Cataloging Information

  • Canada
  • Course of Science flowchart
  • science delivery
  • International
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Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: March 27, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 10964


I've been involved in wildland fire since 1972. Except for a couple of seasons as a hotshot crew member followed by another season with the Forest Service in wilderness fuel inventory capped off by some slash burning, all that time has been spent in fire research. Even as a wildland fire researcher, I've kept actively involved in observing and analyzing free-burning wildfires over the years, and I've occasionally served as an operational fire behavior specialist on major fires and multifire incidents in northern Alberta and the Northwest Territories. This focused fire background has helped me understand that wildland fires are not always easily observed, monitored, explained, or documented. I came across 'the Course of Science' flowchart on a coffee room bulletin board in 1990 during a 3-year (1989-92) sojourn in Australia. Over the years, I've come to appreciate the humor and cynical nature embedded in the 'Course of Science' flowchart more and more. But perhaps of greater value in this flowchart's ability to remind us of the traps to which we, in the research and development community, and in turn the users of the knowledge and products generated by fire researchers, can easily fall victim. As Dr. Mary Omedei (2009), a wildland fire psychologist, has pointed out, this flowchart 'characterizes not only everyday intuitive thinking but also science as well in our zeal to understand and our zeal to publish interesting findings.'

Online Link(s):
Alexander, M. E. 2009. Wildland fire behaviour and 'The Course of Science' flowchart: is there a connection? Fire Management Today 69(3):44-46.