Episode Summary

On today’s episode, David gets the opportunity to speak with Dr. Tim Neale. Together, they discuss how experts manage fuzzy role boundaries.

Episode Notes

Dr. Neale is a Senior Research Fellow at the Alfred Deakin Institute at Deakin University. There, he studies human geography and cultural anthropology. We use his paper, Fuzzy Boundaries: Simulation and Expertise in Bush Fire Management, to help frame our discussion. 

Tune in to hear our insights about the safety community and Dr. Neale’s thoughts on bush fire management.


  • Dr. Neale’s PhD thesis.
  • How he gained access to the F-band community.
  • The tension between people in front-line occupations and safety professionals.
  • Improvising and standardizing.
  • The tension between individuals and bureaucracy.
  • How to be an effective communicator.
  • What happens after a big fire season.
  • Becoming a fire behavior analyst.


“When you’re interacting with somebody, what is your expertise based in?”

“There’s no one way of doing it right and any attempt to wrangle these people, these professionals into being all one type of person, they will resist it.”

“The theme that expresses itself in a particular part of people’s work, expresses itself in many other parts of their work; it’s not a contained problem…”


Neale, T., & May, D. (2020). Fuzzy Boundaries: Simulation and Expertise in Bush Fire ManagementSocial Studies of Science, 0306312720906869.