Top of Mind Thursday August 2, 2018: Too Hot to Handle

Top of Mind Thursday

Wildfires have become an expected hazard during the summer in California, due to extended droughts and temperatures that are at historical highs.

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The brave men and women who fight these fires for a living are well-trained and equipped with the best tools to save lives and limit property damage. But this year’s fires are confounding even the experts.

Near the northern CA town of Redding, record hot ground temperatures combined with extremely low humidity have enabled a situation where the fire creates its own weather system–almost like a tornado cloud that extends thousands of feet into the atmosphere. This means the normal strategy of fighting the fire by air isn’t possible.

It also means firefighting forces have to quickly regroup and find new ways to contain this next generation of fires. In Yosemite, for example, ancient sequoia trees are being wrapped in fireproof material to help shield them from an approaching blaze.

What these experts DON’T do is keep using techniques that aren’t working. And they never say, we can’t fight it, let’s just walk away. They keep at it, adding various approaches, until they find a way to first contain, then extinguish each blaze. Then they study the situation afterwards to learn how to incorporate best practices into future fire situations.

How many times in our businesses do we try to fight proverbial fires by throwing the same thing at the problem–even when it’s clear this has no effect, or maybe even makes things worse? How often do we give up and say, let’s just walk away, instead of digging in and trying to come up with new and creative ways to address the issue?

Take a lesson from those on the front lines in what’s now a war on wildfires. Keep focused on the goal and be creative–the alternative will leave you badly burned.

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