The Lithium Fire Harvard Case Solution & Analysis


    Firefighters have extraordinary qualities which make them a leader. They possess the qualities like bravery, sense of duty, courage and high morals. The case is about the fire broke in Canada and the problems that firefighters faced due to lack of information.

Problem Statement

    The main problem that occurred while fighting the fire in Canada was that the firefighters were lacking the information about the hazardous material in the plant and they were also lacking in teamwork.

Case Analysis

Lack of Accurate Information

The thing which went wrong was that the firefighters had limited information about the battery plant. They lacked the vital information which was required for fighting that specific fire. Firefighters thought that the fire at the battery plant was their routine task, but they never knew it was much more than that. They realized the intensity of the situation when the series of explosions occurred and forced them to back off and understand the situation. The example of August 2005—Hurricane Katrina could be considered to elaborate the outcomes when there would be lack of information or communication. During Hurricane Katrina 2000 casualties occurred and there was a loss of $125 billion. The hurricane took more effect when the responders were unable to communicate and this lack of communication resulted in many casualties (Swenson & Marshall, May 14, 2005).

It was necessary that the situation should have been analyzed properly should be given priority before conducting the operations. The fact was that the lives of the firefighters were on a thread, they were risking their lives to fight fires and when they lack the proper information then it may cause casualties or injuries that could had been avoided or dodged. So, they should had been provided with the accurate information. Example of dangerous results due to lack of information could be taken from the 9/11 incident. When the firefighters were lacking the information and direction from their chiefs due to radio problems. The Chief though communicated that the towers could collapse, but due to lack of communication the information could not be delivered and the firefighters were unable to evacuate the building and hence, 343 firefighters died due to the collapse of the building (Stein, 2003).

No Idea about the Situation

    The mistake had been made at the point where the firefighters didn’t had a clue what they were up against. There were two possibilities, first was the supervisors had the accurate information about the type of fire and what they were up against, but the supervisors intentionally or unintentionally didn’t pass the information to their subordinates working on the site. The second possibility was that the information regarding the hazardous materials present in the department.

    If it was the case that the information was not been passed properly by the supervisors to their subordinates then it was an example of bad leadership practice. The leaders were meant to provide the best information and directions to their followers, so that they could had an idea regarding the sort of action they had to choose. Due to these mistakes the distrust develops among the teams and in the end it resulted in the breaking of the team. But, if the case was the result due to lack of information or coordination, then it was the failure of the team as they were supposed to first analyze the background of the situation properly as a team. They should have coordinated with their supervisors for making sure if they mistakenly didn’t pass the information. The example of Nov. 10, 1975—Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald could be considered to understand the causes of the lack of communication and passing the information. The incident occurred due to the lack of communication and pride of the captain. The ship sank when the captain ignored an information which was passed to him and he also did not communicate with the rescue teams for saving the ship (Devendorf, 1996)

Lessons Learnt

    The main lesson that should be carried forward is that a complete study should be carried out in the background of the situation before entering into it. It is important that information should be completely shared with the whole team. The supervisors or heads should play a vital role in transferring the information to their subordinates.............................

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In September 2001, 24 Calgary firefighters were hospitalized with throat and eye irritation, severe breathing problems and headaches after extinguishing a fire in the battery plant. The fire was like an ordinary fire, industrial fire was seen as yet another task that needs to be taken care of. The working atmosphere in the fireplace affected. Some firefighters said they expected that it would be better taken care of, they do not have enough information about what was inside the burning stove. Where do things go wrong? What specific lessons to be moved? "Hide
by Gerard Seijts Source: Richard Ivey School of Business Foundation 2 pages. Publication Date: April 30, 2008. Prod. #: 908C10-PDF-ENG

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