FDSOA Debuts New Incident Safety Officers' Academy

July 29, 2015
David Dodson, author and training course developer, will launch a “totally revamped” two-day Incident Safety Officer (ISO) Academy at the Fire Department Safety Officer Association (FDSOA) Annual Safety Forum.

David Dodson, author and training course developer, will launch a “totally revamped” two-day Incident Safety Officer (ISO) Academy at the Fire Department Safety Officer Association (FDSOA) Annual Safety Forum, September 21-25 in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. www.fdsoa.org

“I can honestly say that I have never been more excited about debuting a new program!” said Dodson. “Not only do I get to teach with a great instructor and leader—Shadd Whitehead, fire chief, Livonia Fire & Rescue, Mich.--but we get to present a fresh, well-researched and compelling curricula to the people who can make a huge difference in preventing injuries/deaths at working incidents.”

Dodson and Whitehead’s approach is to present the material in a manner that is street-relevant and includes practical examples, discussions and actual fireground footage. Certification to the updated NFPA 1521 Standard and accreditation by the ProBoard will be available following the two-day program.

The new, two-day incident safety officer (ISO) program is based on Dodson’s 3rd edition of Fire Department Incident Safety Officer (FDISO) and coincides with its publication next month by Jones & Bartlett Learning.

According to Dodson, “The 3rd edition of FDISO should be considered a significant overhaul and re-write.” The book was developed in partnership FDSOA and is based on the 2015 NFPA 1521: Standard for Fire Department Safety Officer Professional Qualifications.

Dodson explained the effort to update the FDISO book began five years ago at the request of the former publisher, Delmar Learning. “The intent was to make a light-to-moderate update that captured more ‘best practices’ from ISOs around North America.”

However, two events changed that approach: First, Delmar Learning made a corporate decision to drop their fire service catalog and return book rights to their authors. Second, and perhaps more profoundly, NFPA made the decision to convert the safety officer standard (NFPA 1521) to a true professional qualifications document using job performance requirement (JPR) language.

January 1, 2015, the NFPA 1521: Standard for Fire Department Safety Officer Professional Qualifications became a professional qualifications document like NFPA 1001: Fire Fighter Professional Qualifications or NFPA 1021: Fire Officer Professional Qualifications. The NFPA 1521 scope states: “The standard contains minimum requirements for the assignment, duties and responsibilities of a health and safety officer (HSO) and an incident safety officer (ISO) for a fire department.”

“For the working safety officer that may not seem like a big deal,” Dodson said. “From a formatting and writing point of view, it is a huge deal! The reason for the change has to do with certification and accreditation, and the efforts of training and education entities that offer those programs.”

Prior to the switch, NFPA 1521 was written more as a hybrid standard that included fire department requirements for the HSO and ISO (SOPs, responsibilities, authorities, etc.) and positon requirements for the individual serving as HSO or ISO (qualifications, duties, reporting needs, etc.). The HSO/ISO qualifications portion of the document was written in language that didn’t match the NFPA model used for fire fighter and fire officer qualification (JPRs).

“This change required a significant undertaking by the NFPA Technical Committee and subsequent efforts to make sure that my book, FDISO 3rd edition, met all the JPRs. So a project that started as a light update turned into a major re-write--not to mention the negotiations to secure a new publisher,” said Dodson. “Jones & Bartlett Learning came through with an offer to print the book in full-color with many new photos, tables and diagrams!”

Three key points that are covered in the new ISO 2-day Academy that fire chiefs and officers need to be aware of are:
(1) NFPA 1521 (2015 edition) is now a JPR standard that lists the knowledge and skill objectives that an individual must acquire to serve as an ISO or HSO.
(2) The fire department requirements for creating and administering an HSO and ISO program have now moved to NFPA 1500 and 1561 respectively.
(3) The 3rd edition of FDISO is written to help satisfy the ISO JPRs in the new NFPA 1521 as well as the ISO program requirements from NFPA 1561 (2014 edition).

“In addition to this totally revamped ISO pre-conference academy, this year’s Safety Forum is shaping up to be one of the best ever!” said Dodson.
For more information regarding the FDSOA Annual Safety Forum, September 21-25, 2015, contact Rich Marinucci, executive director, at [email protected] or visit www.fdsoa.org.

David Dodson, a 34-year veteran of the fire service, has served as the chair of the NFPA 1521 Task Group and served on the NFPA Fire Service Occupational Safety & Health Technical Committee. He developed the popular Art of Reading Smoke programs and has presented to over 70,000 fire officers in North America.

Dodson’s own company, Response Solutions, is dedicated to teaching firefighter safety and practical incident handling.

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 directors and has a small staff to handle day to day operations. FDSOA is dedicated to the issues that affect the critical role of safety officers in protecting and promoting the safety and health of fire departments, communities and first responders.

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