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Taking Fire Service Safety Culture Science to the Streets: FOCUS 2.0

Chief Richard Marinucci, Executive Director of the Fire Department Safety Officers Association (FDSOA) and Dr. Jennifer Taylor of the Center for Firefighter Injury Research and Safety Trends (FIRST) of the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University are proud to announce receipt of a $1.5 million grant from the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFG) run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).


This continuing collaboration responds to FEMA’s national prevention priorities on firefighter safety projects “designed to measurably change firefighter behavior and decision-making”. The Firefighter Organizational Culture of Safety (FOCUS) survey developed by Dr. Taylor and her team in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health of the Dornsife School under a FEMA FP&S R&D grant, created the first fire service-specific safety culture assessment tool. Safety culture is a robust predictor of occupational injuries and organizational outcomes such as burnout, job satisfaction, and engagement.  


This partnership will take “science to the streets” by widely disseminating the FOCUS survey, which promotes the use of objective data to understand, maintain, or change the culture that creates safety. “Creating a FOCUS on Safety Culture through Fire Service Assessment and Training,” will serve 1,000 fire departments from across the country with FOCUS survey administration and customized analysis. Ms. Andrea Davis, MPH ’12, CPH of the Dornsife School will continue to serve as the Senior Project Manager.  She will be assisted by Ms. Lauren Shepler, MPH ’15, FIRST Outreach and Communications Manager.  Through this new funding, it is anticipated that as many as 120,000 firefighters will be included.


 “…In my heart, I believe that we promote a safe culture…, but it was gratifying to see that others in our organization believe this to be true also…I like the fact that I can now put actual numbers to what has previously been a ‘gut feeling’.” – Fire Chief 


“I’m looking forward to reassessing and I’m hopeful that all of the things we bragged about here are doing what we want them to do. It’s a very useful tool to see where our people are, what their perceptions of our department are like, what commitment to safety is." – Fire Department


The FSDOA/FIRST research-to-practice partnership will also train 200 fire department and IAFF union representatives through FOCUS Culture Camp trainings. The trainings will be offered in basic and advanced formats. The basic course will cover the theory of safety climate, how to gather safety culture data using FOCUS, and how to analyze and interpret the data. The advanced course will be open only to graduates of the basic course, focusing on enhanced data presentation competencies and designing evaluations for fire service-generated interventions. The advanced course will be available to departments and their unions that stand ready to effectuate change. 


 “This training takes you into the world of data and science. Learning to understand data and science allows departments to go deeper into the world of safety. In time, this will allow facts to be the rule in place of opinion or theory.” –Culture Camp Participant 


“I believe FOCUS has the potential to have a positive long-term effect within our organization. I believe it will provide the guidance needed to help prevent injuries and improve the work environment.” –Culture Camp Participant 


FDSOA and FIRST are honored to continue their collaboration with three renowned Occupational & Industrial/Organizational Psychologists:  Dr. Joe Allen, Director of the Center for Applied Psychological Services, Director of the Community Engagement Research Center, and Director of the Center for Meeting Effectiveness in the Department of Psychology at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Dr. Jin Lee, Assistant Professor of Psychological Sciences at Kansas State University.  Dr. Christian Resick, Associate Professor of Management and Organizational Behavior with the LeBow College of Business and the Academic Director of the College’s Institute for Strategic Leadership. These applied scientists will help fire departments and unions transform FOCUS results into sustainable practice, integrating existing theory while building new.  


The Fire Department Safety Officers Association (FDSOA) is a non-profit organization that promotes safety standards and practices in fire, rescue, and emergency services. FDSOA sponsors the Apparatus Specification and Maintenance Symposium bringing together manufacturers, fire officers, and emergency vehicle technicians. These forums contribute to significant improvements in apparatus safety performance. FDSOA helps Safety Officers achieve proficiency in the skills necessary to secure the National Board on Fire Service Professional Qualifications Health and Safety Officer and Incident Safety Officer.  FDSOA’s education and certification programs for Incident Safety Officers (ISO) reflect current best practices. These programs exceed the Job Performance Requirements of NFPA 1521: Standard for Fire Department Incident Safety Officers Professional Qualifications. FDSOA was the recipient of the 2016 Senator Paul S. Sarbanes Fire Service Safety Leadership Award


For more information, please contact Victoria Gallogly, Outreach & Communications Coordinator: