Analysis of the risk management decisionmaking processes and the decision support systems in the wildland fire agencies
Document Type: Conference Proceedings
Author(s): Patrick Withen
Editor(s): Bret W. Butler; Wayne A. Cook
Publication Year: 2007

Cataloging Information

  • decision support
  • risk management
  • wildland fire management
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: December 13, 2016
FRAMES Record Number: 7564


This paper offers an analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in the risk management process, decision support systems (DSSs), and other types of decisionmaking, including recognition primed decisionmaking, bricolage with the goal of improving DSSs and decisionmaking. DSSs may be thought of as any technology or knowledge that is used as an aid in decisionmaking. Many types of risk management processes and DSSs exist in wildland fire, wildland fire, and prescribed fire at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels. In the wildland fire community, DSSs exist as check-lists, handbooks, implementation guides, computer programs, and more. Many wildland fire suppression agencies and other high reliability organizations have embraced what may be called a rationalistic based decisionmaking process in the form of risk management, programmed decisions, and more. Critics charge that while an attempt is made to rationalize decisions, many 'judgments' within the rationalistic systems reduce their logic, making their rationality questionable. While rationalistic based decisionmaking processes exist at all levels of the fire suppression agencies, naturalistic decisionmaking is found primarily at the tactical level in the form of recognition primed decisionmaking, or bricolage. Many argue that the risk management decisionmaking school of thought is contraindicated by the naturalistic decisionmaking school of thought. Finally the role of DSSs in the naturalistic and rationalistic based decisionmaking is explored.

Online Link(s):
Withen, Patrick. 2007. Analysis of the risk management decisionmaking processes and the decision support systems in the wildland fire agencies. Pages 633-644 In: Butler, Bret W.; Cook, Wayne (comps.). The fire environment-innovations, management, and policy; conference proceedings. 26-30 March 2007; Destin, FL. Proceedings RMRS-P-46CD. Fort Collins, CO: USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station.