TitleDeveloping Wildland Firefighters’ Performance Capacity Through Awareness-Based Processes: A Qualitative Investigation
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsWaldron, AL, Ebbeck, V
JournalJournal of Human Performance in Extreme Environments
Date Published01/2015

Wildland firefighting is environmentally and socially a risky and complex occupation. Although much attention has been given to understanding the physical components in fighting wildland fire, much less time has been devoted to understanding and developing the capacity of wildland firefighters to handle the dynamic pressures of the physical and social environments. The purpose of this study was to explore the receptiveness, utility, effectiveness, and potential improvements for a mindful and self-compassionate awareness program developed for the wildland fire environment. The program was based on the use of a conceptual tool to refocus awareness and move self-compassionately through key aspects of present moment happenings with the self, others, and the surrounding environment during a six-month period. A sample of federal fire managers and crew supervisors (N58) located at three locations in the Western United States was used to assess the program. Through an action research methodology, program receptiveness, implementation, and suggested improvements were explored. Key findings closely aligned with other mindfulness, self-compassion, and positive psychology interventions. Participants reported positive outcomes through using mindfulness and selfcompassion processes through a variety of stressful, dynamic life situations both personally and professionally. Regarding the intervention aspect, participant experience was influenced by several factors including person–activity fit, age, and career and life experience. In general participants had varying degrees of adherence, unique implementations, and favored its adoption and further exploration in wildland fire curricula.

Short TitleJournal of Human Performance in Extreme Environments