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PWS claims CRC Award for Excellence in Research Utilisation


The Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) has received a major award for putting research into practice at the fire front.

The inaugural award for Excellence in Utilisation of Bushfire CRC Research award was presented to PWS Fire Operations manager Adrian Pyrke at the annual Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC)/Bushfire CRC national conference in Perth this week.

It is the first time the Bushfire CRC has presented an award to an organisation for adopting its research to change workplace culture in training and real fire situations.

PWS took up the Bushfire CRC research after revisiting the scene of a planned burn incident site to re-analyse procedures, tasks and outcomes. This process of reflective reassessment , or “staff ride”,  is a method used widely in the United States.

At the invitation of the PWS, University of Tasmania researchers observed and helped facilitate the staff ride. As a result, a manual, Designing the Staff Ride, and two short films were produced enabling other agencies to learn from the PWS experience.

Fire Management officer Sandy Whight said that “staff rides” have now become embedded in PWS After Action Review processes that are applied to all planned burns that escape.

“There has been a cultural shift in our fire crews,” Sandy said. “They are noting lessons learned to raise at debriefs and management is allowing field expertise to change some operational procedures. There is a greater confidence in speaking up and a culture of learning and analysis.

“Without the support of the CRC program, cultural change may well have still come to the PWS, just a lot more slowly and perhaps less embedded into our operational culture.”’

PWS Director Operations, Mark Bryce, said: “The fire team has done a great job in implementing After Action Reviews.  It is a practice that we want to encourage throughout the organisation to help develop a culture of continually reviewing our successes and development opportunities to improve our performance”.

Fire Operations manager Adrian Pyrke acknowledged the initiative and hard work of staff in this initiative saying that Sandy was central to bringing the project to fruition, supported by Eddie Staier and Phil Duggan.

Sandy will present a paper on this subject at the 12th International Wildland Fire Safety Summit in Sydney in October 2012.

The Bushfire CRC is made up of all the fire and land management agencies in Australia and New Zealand, CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology, the Attorney General's Department and several other fire related organisations. It is based in Melbourne.

PWS claims CRC Award for Excellence in Research Utilisation

Adrian Pyrke with the Bushfire CRC award.