FIRST Announces Partnership with FDSOA, States of Washington and Ohio to Take Fire Service Safety Culture Science to the Streets


Jennifer Taylor, PhD, MPH, CPPS, of the Center for Firefighter Injury Research and Safety Trends (FIRST) at the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University and Chief Richard Marinucci, Executive Director of the Fire Department Safety Officer’s Association (FDSOA) are proud to announce receipt of a $1.5 million grant from the Fire Prevention and Safety (FP&S) program 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 Fire Service Organizational Culture of Safety (FOCUS) survey was developed and disseminated by the FIRST Center under previous FEMA FP&S grants as 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 funding will extend the scope of FOCUS by allowing FIRST and FDSOA to partner with state Workers’ Compensation Bureaus (WCBs) to explore models of scale-up and utility so that all US states and territories will ultimately be served. The implementation of FOCUS by fire departments covered by each state’s WCB will evaluate the impact on injury and well-being claims as well as explore premium reductions for participants. 


FIRST and FDSOA are collaborating with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, Division of Safety and Hygiene and the Washington State Labor and Industries Division of Workers’ Compensation Insurance, Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP) program. Departments participating in the pilot will receive a FOCUS survey assessment and then participate in a FOCUS Culture Camp to develop data competency. Forty departments per state will be assessed over two years. In Washington state, the collaboration will be responsive to the Fire Injury and Illness Reduction (FIIRE) safety initiative, which provides a discount for Washington fire departments with workers’ compensation coverage from the State Fund. 


In addition, the FIRST Center will launch an online FOCUS Culture Camp to serve fire departments from around the nation who have already completed the FOCUS survey assessment and are on the waiting list for the training.  


FDSOA and FIRST are honored to continue their collaboration with three renowned Occupational & Industrial/Organizational Psychologists: Dr. Joe Allen, Professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of Utah. 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 at Drexel University and the Academic Director of the College’s Institute for Strategic Leadership. These applied scientists will help fire departments and unions in Washington and Ohio transform FOCUS results into sustainable practice, integrating existing theory while building new.


The Fire Department Safety Officers Association (FDSOA) was established in 1989 as a non-profit association. Its mission is to promote safety standards and practices in the fire, rescue and emergency services community. The association is led by a volunteer board of diectors and has a small staff to handle day-to-day operations. The association is dedicated to the issues that affect the critical role of the safety officer in protecting and promoting the safety and health responsibilities of fire departments, communities, and first responders. FDSOA can be found on the web at Please follow FDSOA on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


The Center for Firefighter Injury Research and Safety Trends (FIRST) is a research and education 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 through.


Dr. Jennifer Taylor is the Arthur L. and Joanne B. Frank Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health. She received a PhD from 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).