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Drexel and Fire Association Receive $1.5 Million FEMA Grant to Assess Fire Service Culture

September 14, 2016

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have awarded a $1.5 million grant from the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFG) to the Fire Department Safety Officers Association (FDSOA) and the Firefighter Injury Research and Safety Trends (FIRST) program in the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University.

The grant provides support to disseminate the Firefighter Organizational Culture of Safety (FOCUS) survey, which was developed Jennifer Taylor, PhD, MPH, director of Drexel’s FIRST Program, and her team in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health of the Dornsife School under a FEMA Fire Prevention and Safety (FP&S) R&D grant. FOCUS is the first fire service-specific safety culture assessment tool, and measures behaviors, decision-making, and organizational safety factors. To develop the FOCUS instrument, the FIRST team recruited and assessed safety climate in the largest FEMA study sample of over 10,000 firefighters in 130 departments. Safety culture is a robust predictor of occupational injuries and organizational outcomes such as burnout, job satisfaction, and engagement. 

This new collaboration between FDSOA and Drexel responds to FEMA’s national prevention priorities on firefighter safety projects “designed to measurably change firefighter behavior and decision-making.”

  • FDSOA and FIRST will train 100 safety officers during national fire service meetings to become champions of culture in their home departments, and will serve 500 fire departments across the country with FOCUS survey administration and customized analysis.
  • FIRST has partnered with Murugan Anandarajan, PhD, in Drexel's LeBow College of Business. Master of Science students in LeBow's Business Analytics program will develop an automated reporting system that will generate customized fire department reports from FOCUS data. All participating departments will receive customized reports of their safety climate scores, and where applicable, scores by individual stations within their department. Fire departments will be able to benchmark their scores to departments in their FEMA region, and to similar departments throughout the U.S. 
  • Drexel Industrial/Organizational Psychologist Christian Resick, PhD, MA, with the LeBow College of Business’s Institute for Strategic Leadership, will help fire departments translate and disseminate FOCUS survey results into immediately actionable practice.

Read more about the project