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School & Program Updates

School & Program Updates

Drexel FIRST Center Receives Major Grant to Advance Fire Service Safety Culture

Chief Richard Marinucci, executive director of the Fire Department Safety Officers Association (FDSOA) and Dr. Jennifer Taylor of the Firefighter Injury Research and Safety Trends (FIRST), of the Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health, 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, at the Dornsife School under a FEMA Fire Prevention & Safety Research & Development Grants (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, alumna of the Dornsife School, will continue to serve as the senior project manager.  She will be assisted by Ms. Lauren Shepler, 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 International Association of Fire Fighters
IAFF union representatives through FOCUS Culture Camp trainings.

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