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Professional Reading Program

A public neighborhood within called the "Fireline Leadership Reading Room" was established as a forum for students of fire to discuss books their local unit is reading and/or wants to share with other members of the fire service. Join today!

We have also developed a task, purpose, and end state for the reading program to make its intent clear.

The Professional Reading Program is tasked with providing a program and delivery system of literature designed to foster leadership development at all levels of the fire service. It is here as an additional tool to help develop current and future leaders using reading to expand the breadth and depth of their leadership skills. The end state of the PRP is a sustainable and adaptable program that is engaged by leaders of all levels to support a continued growth in leadership through reading.

2016 Reading Challenge

Yes to the Mess book cover

The WFDLP is issuing the 2016 reading challenge! The book chosen as the primary focus for this year is Yes to the Mess by Frank J. Barrett. Yes to the Mess is a book about leading well in dynamic, complex environments, where conditions are frequently changing, chaos and confusion are common, and innovation in the face of adversity is needed. At its core, it's about how leaders and followers can adapt and find success when things get "messy," when plans fall apart and leaders are confronted with new or unfamiliar obstacles and challenges. Using his experience as a jazz musician, as well as examples from other areas of business and industry, the author shows that adaptability and innovation in groups is critical to success. While the examples in the book are primarily from the business world, the ideas and concepts apply well to wildland fire organizations.

The intent of the challenge is to promote the reading and discussion of the book throughout the spring and summer. Discussions are encouraged on the WFLDP Facebook page, the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center Fireline Leadership Reading Room, and ready rooms, engine bays, and fire caches across the land.

A new tool for 2016 and beyond is the discussion guide for this and other titles.

Jazz and improvisation in leadership not your thing? Several other books have been selected for this year's reading list, and more will be added to the website throughout the year. Pick one and start a discussion with your coworkers!

Happy reading!Yes to the Mess book cover

Yes to the Mess discussion guide
Leading well in dynamic, complex environments, where conditions are frequently changing, chaos and confusion are common, and innovation in the face of adversity is needed.

Brain Rules book cover

Brain Rules discussion guide
Leadership is at its core a human interaction. Understanding human factors, including the way our brains work to interpret what happens around us, is an important part of being a competent leader.


It Worked for Me book cover

It Worked for Me discussion guide
Colin Powell shares leadership and life lessons, notes, observations, and insights that he has acquired over a lifetime of experience in the military, the State Department, and his personal life.


Turn the Ship Around book cover

Turn the Ship Around discussion guide
The author explores how he empowered his followers to be leaders at all levels in the high-stress operating environment of a modern nuclear submarine.


Smokejumper book cover

Smokejumper discussion guide
The author takes readers alongside his personal journey as a wildland firefighter, from his early years in California to his time spent as a smokejumper in the Washington Cascades.


If you have questions regarding the Professional Reading Program, send an e-mail to

Articles and official documents that are on the Web, such as accident investigations, are linked here. Many can be downloaded and printed. Many of the books are available in libraries. Most books listed are currently available on the Web through various sources such as Amazon at or Barnes & Noble at or Books Price at

All branches of the United States military have professional reading programs and a key part of those programs is the recommendation that every leader read at least two books a year. Many corporations have required readings for their supervisors and managers. For several hundred dollars, a fire organization can put together a good library from the titles on this list and implement a reading program on their home unit. How many of our young firefighters know what happened at South Canyon? How many have read anything that discusses the principles of sound leadership? How many have read stories from other disciplines or endeavors that describe leaders in action?

This is not busy work; this is not drudgery. These readings will provoke reflection, discussion, and debate. The selected titles have been chosen for their intrinsic excitement as well as their content. Many of the books will be hard to put down. Let this be your roadmap to an enjoyable and rewarding reading program.

The NWCG Leadership Subcommittee is the sponsor for this resource.