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Are you looking for a training idea? Have you ever used a Tactical Decision Game (TDG) as a delivery method? You have used them, even if you did not call them TDGs. The key is to understand how to maximize their impact and structure them so that the student learns as much as possible from each scenario. Below I describe an 8 step process on how to implement Dr. Klein’s decision making process and situational awareness into your training scenarios. When we look back over where TDGs actually came from they were developed for the military, however, fire service incident commanders were used in the studies to develop the content behind the TDGs. This process of studying people performing their jobs in the real world (not a laboratory) developed the terminology Naturalistic Decision Making and eventually gave birth to what is now known as Recognition Primed Decision Making or RPDM.                 

Dr. Gary Klein’s Decision Making Framework

  • Diagnose the Situation (Size Up)

  • Is Situation Typical?

  • Recognition of Cues, Clues and Expectancies

  • Mental Simulation

  • Make a Decision

  • Implement Course of Action

  • Evaluate Actions

  • Repeat


If you are interested in learning more about Developing Tactical Decision Games (TDGs) and what it encompasses I encourage you to visit FireServiceSLT Facebook page for additional 2 – 3 minute videos. The first two videos of the four have been posted and I will be posting the remaining videos over the next several weeks as we move closer to FDIC. The other aspect described in the videos and part of the FDIC Workshop is breaking down the five different types of TDGs that I will provide you with during the workshop at FDIC. Each of the five offers something different for the student and requires a different style of preparation for the instructor. However, those who attend will be provided with the templates and specific instructions on how to deliver the TDGs. In the workshop, students will participate in scenarios and start the process of developing your own TDG for back home. These five styles include the Fire Engineering Magazine Hot Seat, One Page Lesson Plan (currently available on – Training Officer’s Toolbox), Whiteboard, Video and Active Simulation.


I will be presenting Developing Tactical Decision Games at FDIC on April 18th, 2015, 0800—1200.


Brian Ward, Author of Fire Engineering - Training Officer’s Toolbox and Managing Editor for the Training Officer’s Desk Reference. Brian serves on the ISFSI Board of Directors. He is a member of the Georgia Smoke Divers, currently working on his Master’s in Organizational Development from Columbia Southern University and Founder of

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