After action reviews: The good, the bad, and why we should care

Posted: Nov. 16, 2017

Work within the fire service involves frequent encounters with occupational hazards. Many fire departments try to minimize accidents and injuries through after action reviews (AARs).

photo of people at an after action review
High-reliability organizations (HROs) are organizations that have fewer than normal accidents. Source:

A recent study1 explored what makes for a good or bad after action review, what makes a review satisfying to attendees, and its impact on group safety norms. The study also looked at the effects of good attendee behavior on desirable outcomes for AARs in high-reliability organizations (HROs).

Researchers suggested that good AARs help individuals clarify their role within the group and express the group’s safety norms. They give active and willing participants a venue to build a common picture of what happened and why. Wide participation in conversations and decision-making in meetings of this type can improve performance.

Research takeaways

Learn more about this research

The research article is available through our library by contacting Interested readers may be able to access the article through their local library or through the publisher’s website.

See also: Operational Lessons Learned in Disaster Response PDF 2.5 MB

1 Crowe, J., Allen, J. A., Scott, C. W., Harms, M., & Yoerger, M. (2017). After-action reviews: The good behavior, the bad behavior, and why we should care. Safety Science, 96, 84-92. doi:10.1016/j.ssci.2017.03.006

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As such, the content does not reflect any official positions, policies, or guidelines on behalf of the sender, the U.S. Fire Administration, FEMA, DHS, nor any other federal agencies, departments or contracting entities. Similarly, this summary does not represent in any manner an official endorsement or relationship to any private or public companies, organizations/associations, or any authors or individuals cited or websites associated within the article.

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