Moore-Merrell Sees US Fire Administration Driven by Mission, Partnerships and Data
The new U.S. Fire Administrator said all of the agency’s activities are being reviewed with a view to how it makes the U.S. Fire Administration a “mission-driven organization” focused on people. data to “strengthen and sustain” the fire service because if “we’re not doing something mission-related, then we’ll have something new.
The USFA launched its new podcast this week to feature fire and EMS experts from around the country each month discussing programs and issues affecting first responders.
Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell, a longtime fire service advocate, was sworn in as a United States fire administrator in October. She began her career as the sixth woman hired with the Memphis Fire Department, spending seven years there as a paramedic before moving to the International Association of Fire Fighters as an EMS specialist.
“You have things in your path, I believe: people, events, circumstances that kind of lead you to where you’re meant to be,” she told podcast host Teresa Neal, Specialist of the USFA fire program. “I’m thrilled to be where I’m sitting right now with the opportunity and hope to do better than I found.”
Moore-Merrell said it was important to increase the visibility of the USFA and the “very passionate people here who want to make a difference” while attracting even more talent to the agency, its programs and its outreach.
“It’s definitely a great place for those who want to be involved in training the next generation,” she said. “…One of the noblest things I believe anyone can do is to teach someone else what you know, to pass on your knowledge and your abilities. Those who learn from you are indebted to you. You have given them something of value. That’s what I want people to know, it’s an opportunity. For firefighters who want to give back, this is a place where you can do it.
One of the USFA’s key drivers is to “ensure that we help fire departments have the capabilities and capacity they need to serve” in the midst of natural disasters and other crises. .
“If we help ensure they have the capacity to respond, and they have the training they need, the people they need, the resource capacity, if we can help them with that, then it’s FEMA may never have to respond because our local emergency responders handled the situation,” Moore-Merrell said. “…If we can make sure they can have that first response, do as much rescue as possible in these times to limit the bad events that happen, so that there is a much more viable situation when FEMA resources arrive, that is our role. ”
The agency reflects on its vision for an “assertive” future because “it’s time to innovate, it’s time to modernize, it’s time to improve our capabilities, and for me, the status quo is not okay,” she said. The USFA also intends to build on its status as a role model for federal agencies going green, with one building so far relying on solar power.
Moore-Merrell appointed an agency wildfire expert to report directly to her. Drawing on her most recent experience as president and CEO of the International Public Safety Data Institute, Moore-Merrell said the agency “directly involves a lot of wilderness from a data perspective, but also community risk reduction, research, knowledge provision and evidence-based science, working with NIST for example.”
“So data is something we are going to do better here. We will modernize and innovate this data system. This legacy data system, God bless it, but we’re going to have a memorial service very soon,” she continued. “We will maintain it for the next moment, until we can put a new system in place. We will be implementing a new cloud-based system with a much more streamlined data set. So that means we’re going to rewrite what is NFIRS 5 today. It won’t exist anymore. We will build a new relevant data standard with simplified, essential data elements, not superfluous or interesting information to know. This allows us to obtain quality and quantity data.
Today, 56% of fire departments provide data to the USFA. Moore-Merrell wants to see this 100%, aided by technology that can “capture data rather than collect it.”
Every program and position is going to be evaluated at the USFA to “make sure people are where they can be effective and efficient” and to make sure “everyone is in their own hearts thriving. “.
“There are a lot of enthusiasts here. They want to make a difference, and I want them to have a real opportunity to do so,” she said. “And thus opening those doors, making sure people are where they are with their skills, their talents, or where they want to be. If they want training, as I said, we’ll figure out how to get it. These are the kinds of things that I think will contribute to this vision.
Long-term budget planning is also underway, including some proposed changes with “a real EMS section.” And the USFA is also looking at diversity, equity and inclusion, because “the fire department is just about to really change the culture,” Moore-Merrell said. “…To change culture, we must first change behavior. So have no tolerance for psychologically dangerous workplaces. We care a lot about our safety when we are at work. We need to start as fire chiefs to talk about psychological safety as well.
With so much to accomplish, Moore-Merrell said it was important to stay focused. “We need to be in sync with our national fire organizations, and they with us so that we can get the things we need to get done during this administration,” she said.
U.S. Fire Department Assistant Administrator Tonya Hoover told the podcast that “Firefighters and EMS, as well as our allied professionals, should also be very excited about what’s happening at the USFA.”
“The future is bright. There’s so much going on here. When I came to the USFA as NFA superintendent, I didn’t realize how much was going on,” Hoover said. unfortunate is that people at this local and state level don’t have the opportunity to really engage with what’s going on here so I want to encourage people: call, email, write letters , stay engaged. There is an incredible amount of information here.
“We know so much is happening beyond the walls of the USFA,” she continued. “I want people to feel better about reaching out to us and reaching out to us and having this relationship with the USFA. I want people to see the USFA as a strong partner with the work they do in their communities and in their states.
Listen to the USFA Podcast