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FIRST Receives Funding for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Fire and Rescue Service

The Center for Firefighter Injury Research and Safety Trends (FIRST) at Drexel University's Dornsife School of Public Health (DSPH) has joined forces with the Metropolitan "Metro" Fire Chiefs Association to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive fire service.

The partnership will advance issues raised in the 2021 National Fire Service Research Agenda on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and is funded by a $1.5 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Assistance to Fire Grants (AFG) Fire Prevention and Safety (FP&S) Program.

A "DEI FIRE" toolkit will include education, assessment, and training components. Through the creation of a DEI dictionary, a common language will emerge. The toolkit will include assessments of DEI receptivity in fire departments and fire service organizations using validated tools, and in response to that data, best practices, trainings, and model policies will be created. The toolkit will be made available through an online clearing house to centralize information and will be free to all fire departments so that recruitment, retention, and advancement of a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive industry will be realized.

The team will be advised by the FIRST Center Advisory Board, including:

Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI)
Drexel University Fire & Emergency Services
Fire Department Safety Officers Association (FDSOA)
International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC)
International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF)
International Association of Women in Fire & Emergency Services (iWomen)
International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI)
National Fire Academy
National Fall Firefighters Foundation (NFFF)
National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA)
National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC)
Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences
Provident Insurance

The team, led by Jennifer Taylor, PhD, MPH, CPPS, the Arthur L. and Joanne B. Frank professor and director of the FIRST Center, will collaborate with Randall Sell, ScD, a professor and eminent historical researcher on LGBTQ+ health; Patience Ajoff-Foster, PhD, CDE, Assistant Vice President for Inclusive Culture and Belonging in the Office for Institutional Equity and Inclusive Culture (EIC); and Johanna Inman, EdD, MFA, the Inaugural Director of the Teaching and Learning Center and national presenter on teaching in higher education, all from Drexel.

This synergistic work complements to two DEI initiatives at DSPH. In October 2021, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded the school the Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation grant. Drexel is one of six institutions nationwide receiving funding and is the sole recipient in Pennsylvania. In 2022, the school received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to support its scholars and their research, as part of their Transforming Academia for Equity program.


The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), housed within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), was established in 1979 and is the government's leading agency in responding to and recovering from national emergencies. Since 2001, the Assistance to Fire Grants (AFG) program, housed within FEMA< has helped meet the firefighter and emergency response need of fire and rescue departments across the country. The Fire Prevention and Safety (FP&S) Grants are part of the AFG program and support projects that enhance the safety of first responders.

The Center for Firefighter Injury Research and Safety Trends (FIRST) is a research, education, and practice enterprise at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, organized to support the United States fire and rescue service through objective data collection and analysis. FIRST is led by Dr. Jennifer Taylor, an expert in injury prevention, healthcare quality improvement, and occupational safety. FIRST projects include: organizational safety climate assessment, nonfatal injury data system development, stress and violence in fire-based EMS responders, mental health concerns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, policy research and practice, and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the fire and rescue service. FIRST uses federal funding to make sure research findings are freely downloadable for the fire service and the public. Please connect with FIRST on Facebook and Twitter.

Dr. Jennifer Taylor is the Arthur L. and Joanne B. Frank Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health. She received a PhD form the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a Master of Public Health in Health Services from the Boston University School of Public Health. She is a Certified Professional in Patient Safety (CPPS).

For more information, please contact Victoria Gallogly, Outreach & Communication Coordinator