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FIRST Selects 8th Class of FIRE Fellows

The Center for Firefighter Injury Research and Safety Trends (FIRST) is proud to announce the 8th class of the Firefighter Injury Research, Epidemiology, & Evaluation (FIRE) Fellowship. Fellowship recipients, known as "FIRE Fellows," are graduate students from the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University in Philadelphia. This year's program is funded in part by a new FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Fire Prevention & Safety Grant on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), and continuing support from the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and the Fire Department Safety Officers Association (FDSOA).

This support provides Fellows the opportunity to work on three FIRST Center projects. Fellows will contribute to the development of a workplace violence (WPV) prevention course for first responders that teaches the necessary skills and knowledge to prevent violent events or de-escalate them when they occur. They will work on developing the DEI FIRE Toolkit for the fire and rescue service comprised of best practices, trainings, and model policies. Finally, Fellows will assist with research recruitment, retention, and analysis for the Fire service Organizational Culture of Safety (FOCUS) survey, developed in partnership with the FDSOA.

The 2023 FIRE Fellowship recipients are (from left to right):

2023 class of FIRE Fellows 

  • Mobolawa Adio, MPH(c) 2024, Department of Community Health & Prevention
  • Sumbul Murtaza, MPH(c) 2024, Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics
  • Bikiltu Dirbaba, MPH(c) 2024, Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics
  • Eamonn McCollough, MPH(c) 2024, Department of Community Health & Prevention
  • Ojaswini Parab, MPH(c) 2023, Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics

Ms. Adio is an accelerated BS/MPH student beginning her master's degree in the fall of 2023. After participating in the Fellowship in 2021, she is excited to be a FIRE Fellow for the second time. She is eager to continue her contribution to the FIRST Center's efforts in addressing workplace violence.

Ms. Murtaza is an international epidemiology student from Pakistan. As a physician, she appreciates the danger any first responder puts themselves through to save lives. She looks forward to helping prevent violence toward first responders as a FIRE Fellow and contributing to policies that help shape the future.

Ms. Dirbaba is an international epidemiology student from Ethiopia. She looks forward to addressing the safety concerns faced by firefighters during the summer Fellowship program.

Mr. McCullough is a community health and prevention graduate student focusing on emergency preparedness, volunteering with the Philadelphia Red Cross Disaster Action Team. He is eager to work with the FIRST Center this summer to strategize on improving first responder health and safety.

Ms. Parab is an international student from India and is graduating this year with an MPH in epidemiology. She has a background in medicine, emergency care, and public health. By understanding the causes and consequences of violence against firefighters and EMS personnel, she hopes to strategize better working conditions for them.

Faculty for the Fellowship include: FIRST Center Director, Jennifer Taylor, PhD, MPH, CPPS; Associate Director, Andrea Davis, MPH (2012), CPH; Project Manager for Education & Training, Alexandra Fisher, MPH (2020), CHES; Outreach & Communication Coordinator, Victoria Gallogly, MPH (2022); Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Project Manager, Crystal Yates-Gale, MBA; and over 30 FIRE Fellowship alumni.

The FIRST Center is a research, education, and practice enterprise that supports the US fire and rescue service through objective data collection and analysis.

The IAFF Workplace Violence Prevention course uses findings from the Stress and Violence to fire-based EMS Responders (SAVER) portfolio, which includes the Systems-Level Checklist and Model Policies, available for all fire and rescue departments across the United States. The FIRE Fellows will contribute to curriculum development through knowledge integration of cultural humility, de-escalation, and evasive self-defense competencies.

The FEMA-funded DEI FIRE Toolkit development is a partnership with the Metropolitan "Metro" Fire Chiefs Association. The FIRE Fellows will engage with DEI concepts to develop and field test Toolkit elements with stakeholders in the fire and rescue service.

The FOCUS assessment, developed in partnership with the FDSOA using FEMA AFG FP&S funds, is currently the largest survey of firefighters nationally. Fellows will develop competencies in stakeholder engagement by analyzing quantitative data from the instrument and sharing results with fire service partners.

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