Don’t get burned trying to impress

At risk of a truly awful pun, fire-walking seems to be the hot topic when companies want to motivate their staff. The resurgence of this motivational medium comes after a history of things going wrong.

As far back as 1998, seven insurance salesmen from Eagle Star needed hospital treatment – two of them at a special burns unit – after attempting a firewalk at the end of a motivational training day. In that instance, hot coals were put into a metal tray, which produced extreme heat, like a barbecue. Apparently, a wood base is preferable.

Then a few weeks ago, business services firm Deloitte was forced to ban staff from walking on hot coals after a firewalking incident at a staff confidence-building exercise.

A senior accountant burned her feet walking on hot embers. She was taken to hospital and ended up taking a fortnight off work. It’s thought that chemicals from a pedicure made her feet more susceptible to heat. Medi-cure for a pedicure, if you will.

This hasn’t stopped former accountant Richard Pape set-ting up ‘Firewalker’, a company that will gee up your staff by making them hop across scald-ing fossil fuels. He says the company arose from a “30-year fascination with the act of walk-ing on hot coals”. No comment.

Guru’s advice before you haul your staff over the coals is to make sure work is not weighing too much on their minds – you wouldn’t want them to lose work-life balance mid-way across.

If this seems a bit much, Fire-walker also offers the more se-date choice of walking on broken glass. Have you got the bottle?


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