Cultivating a reluctance to simplify: Exploring the radio communication context in wildland firefighting

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International Journal of Wildland Fire, ISSN: 1049-8001, Vol: 26, Issue: 8, Page: 719-731

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Fox, R.; Gabor, E.; Thomas, D.; Ziegler, J.; Black, A
CSIRO Publishing
Agricultural and Biological Sciences; Environmental Science
article description
Although communication is often cited as a contributor to organisational accidents, complexities of the communication context are still understudied. In training materials and some investigative reports, communication is often presented as an equipment issue or as a simple skill that can be picked up on the job. However, interviews with operational and managerial professionals in wildland firefighting reveal 10 simplifications in guidance about radio communication that do not match the complexities experienced by firefighters in the fire environment. Borrowing language from highreliability organising theory, this study encourages the fire community to cultivate a 'reluctance to simplify' how communication is understood and taught, starting with introductory training. The study recommends a move away from the old information transfer model for communication and towards an ecology of meanings model for communication.