Forest Fire Fighting Training in C3Fire

This section describes the staff's work task which was in focus while developing the C3Fire microworld. The training goals are based on the knowledge identified in the forest fire-fighting domain. See appendix A. The main goal of C3Fire is that a staff that commands and controls a forest fire-fighting organisation experience the characteristic phenomena in their work. C3Fire has been designed with a focus on letting the staff train situation assessment in their tactical reasoning process (See section 3.4). The trainee should experience the behaviour of the fire, how the fire-fighting organisation works, how they can seek and receive information and how they can control the fire-fighting organisation. The trainee should by experience arrive at a better understanding of the relations that exist in the world. The basic training strategies used in C3Fire are briefing and debriefing where after a training session the teachers can discuss the activities performed by the trainee. It should be borne in mind when discussing learning in C3Fire that the world model and the work task in C3Fire are simplified. The system should be seen as an experimental system with a simplified emergency management task that retains the important characteristics of the real system and creates a small and well-controlled simulation system with these characteristics. The system can be seen as a training system with a minimal configuration for training tactical reasoning in emergency management.

The knowledge that can be gained during a training session in C3Fire is here described with three classes. One, knowledge about the target system which is the forest fire in this domain. Two, knowledge about the controlling system, which is the forest fire-fighting organisation, the staff's resources to control the fire. Three, knowledge abut the tactical reasoning that are needed for the staff to be able to command and control a forest fighting operation.

Target System
Controlling System
Tactical Reasoning
Concluding Remarks

Target System

The target system is the system that is target of the emergency organisation's activity. The main parts of the target system in the forest fire-fighting domain are the fire and the nature. Before a training session the trainee, (the staff), must know the basic properties of a forest fire to be able to reasoning about it. During a training session the trainee can extend their knowledge about the relations that exist in a forest fire. Examples of knowledge that exist about a forest fire are forest fire concepts, forest fire classification, flue, weather and geographic, and forest fire behaviour predictions. C3Fire is designed whit the following training goals connected to the target system:

Forest Fire Concepts The trainee can learn to use and understand concepts as fire parts names in a correct way. Examples on fire part names the head, left and right flank, and the rear. They can also experience the basic behaviour of a forest fire.
Fuel The behaviour of an established fire depends principally on the characteristics of the fuel-bed. The forest chemistry varies markedly by species, geographic area, season, etc. The trainee can in C3Fire be trained in understanding how different types fuel-beds influences the forest fire behaviour.
Weather The trainee can be trained in understanding how the wind and weather influence the fire behaviour.
Behaviour Predictions One of the most important skills in the situation assessment process is the prediction of the fire behaviour. The ability to predict fire behaviour often marks the distinction between the successful forest fire-fighter manager and a failure one. Fire predictions or a fire behaviour forecast is an estimate of the rates of spread, directions, and other fire behaviour characteristics to be expected on a particular fire over some future time period. The different type of vegetation and weather in the C3Fire environment makes the behaviour prediction process a possible task to train in C3Fire.

Controlling System

In an emergency organisation the staff's subordinate units are theirs tool in the task of controlling the target system. Examples of subordinate units in the fire-fighting domain are fire-fighting vehicle, fire-fighting personnel, reconnaissance persons, etc. The organisation in C3Fire contains a tree level hierarchy the staff, two middle level chiefs, four fire-fighting units and reconnaissance persons. The staff are supposed to communicate with free text messages to their subordinate middle level chefs. The middle level chefs are responsible for the fire-fighting units and the recognisance persons. A goal with a training session can be to let the trainee experience how it is to command and control a forest fire-fighting organisation. The staff should have knowledge so that they can collect proper information and co-ordinate the subordinate units so that they can regulate the target system. This means that the staff need to know the characteristics of the organisation, what resources exist and how they are they related to different tasks that can be performed in the organisation. Examples of training goals are:

Resources How does the resources behave when they are performing theirs tasks, in normal and critical situations.
Distributed Decision Understand the decision process in the emergency organisation, how to exchange information with other persons in the organisation, to understand the others persons needs and goals, and to understand the importance of shared frameworks and shared goals.
Communication The communication in an organisation is often critical. It is important to know the communication standards as map co-ordinates system, geographic poisoning standards, etc. A training task can be to let the staff train in using the terminology that exists in the domain.
Reconnaissance One important task is to collect information abut the situation. The staff has the responsibility to collect and distribute information about the current situation. They should learn to use their resources for appropriate intelligence serves.
Information Service The staff have the responsibility of having an overall view of the situation. They can learn to present this view to there fire-fighting units, civilian and other organisations.

Tactical Reasoning

The commander's task in a staff is to command and control the fire-fighting organisation. This means that they should collect information from the fire-fighting units and the reconnaissance persons so that they get a situation awareness and understanding of the risk status. Based on that they should define the task, plan and transmit orders to its subordinates, in order too direct and co-ordinate actions between the fire-fighting unit. The C3Fire environment are designed to support training of situation assessment. The process when a staff receives information about the fire scene and size-up the situation to a situation awareness. This process can be described in three states, the current state, the evolution possibilities, and risk status.

Current State The current state consist of information as, where are the fire, how is the geographical environment in the area, how is the weather, and where are the fire-fighting units and what are their status. A goal in C3Fire can be to train the staff in the task of collect data, about the current state of the target system and organisation, so that they have enough information to make a proper situation assessment.
Evolution The evolution of the fire describes what areas may be burning in the future. The spreading speed and the spreading direction of a forest fire are mainly depending on vegetation and weather. The decision makers can learn how the fire behaviour influences by these three factors.
Risks Analysis There is important for the staff to have an ability to analyse the situation and identify the risks that exist in the current that situation or risks that may occur in the near future. The risk analysis is connection between the possible fire evolution and the goal for the fire-fighting operation. A future risk situation arises when some goal of the fire extinguish operation are threaten by some possible events. Fire extinguish operation goals that can be trained in the C3Fire environment are goals as, protect some certain forest area or protect the houses that exist in the environment.

Common Reasoning Errors

One possible focus when training tactical reasoning is to train the staff in avoiding common known reasoning errors. Dörner (1987) has identified five common errors in the task of commanding and controlling a complex system. The five errors that are common when the people is losing control of complex system are; thematic vagabonding, encystment, decreasing willingness to make decisions, tendency to delegate and exculpation tendency. Two examples of tactical reasoning errors that can be trained are: : :
Thematic Vagabonding This means that the person does not have any structure in their attempt to control the system. They change the topic under consideration relatively quickly, often without thinking a theme out to the end and ending it. In other words, the persons jump from one topic to the next without analysing the result.
Encystment This means that the person focus on one approach to solve the problem so hard that he does not archive an overall view of the problem. In other words, the subject stick to a subject matter, enclose themselves in it, and don't take on anything else.

These two types of errors are a good example on aspects that we can try to prevent in a training session.


In the process of training tactical reasoning whit C3Fire the training manager may focuses the training on some of the previous stated training goals. When a focus is selected it is important to understand that all the other characteristics of the defined task environment will influence the learning. This means that the training manager must define the training session careful so that the trainee does not learn some improper behaviour.