Improving the Health & Safety of all Emergency Responders


FDSOA Safety Forum recognizes Dodson

The opening session of the Fire Department Safety Officer Association’s Safety Forum, held January 18-20 in Orlando, began by recognizing a legend among safety officers. Richard Maddox, chairman of the FDSOA board of directors, announced the creation of a “Lifetime Service Award” and the first one was presented to David Dodson, popular instructor and prolific writer.

“A true friend of our organization,” said Maddox, “He has dedicated his life to serving. In the 90’s, Dodson became one of the first elected chairman of the FDSOA and has worked tirelessly for this organization.”

Chief Dodson is a fire service author, lecturer, and trainer. He is a 34-year fire service veteran, serving up to the position of Battalion Chief.  In 1997, Dave was chosen as the ISFSI “George D. Post Fire Instructor of the Year.” His “Art of Reading Smoke” class has been presented to over 70,000 firefighters in the USA and Canada.  He recently completed a ground-breaking project with John Mittendorf – The Art of Reading Buildings (Fire Engineering Books and Video). Dave’s best-seller, Fire Department Incident Safety Officer, has been updated to an all-new 3rd edition (2015) and is now available through Jones & Bartlett Learning.

In accepting the Lifetime Service Award from Maddox and the FDSOA Board of Directors, Dodson recognized Roger McGarry for getting him involved with the NFPA and of Marilyn Kraft, Dodson said, “One of the finest assistants to serve the FDSOA.” He added, “This association is only getting better and more prominent for the American fire service and not only that, but what it stands for.”

Maddox also acknowledged the presence of James Williams, winner of the 2016 Safety Officer of the Year Award.

Wednesday morning, Dr. David Griffin, a captain with the city of Charleston, SC, Fire Department, held a captive audience with his story of his role as operator of the first due engine on June 18, 2007 to the Super Sofa Store fire that killed nine of his fellow firefighters. Griffin, author of “In Honor of The Charleston 9: A Study of Change…” told of the journey of recovery and healing from that horrific day.

On Thursday morning, Boston Fire Department Commissioner Joe Finn and Union President Richie Paris talked about the joint efforts of labor and management, with strong support from the mayor, to address the health and safety of BFD personnel. Statistics have shown BFD firefighters are twice as likely to get cancer than its citizens. Commissioner Finn said, “Sixty-seven percent of Boston firefighters will face a cancer diagnosis.”  He added, “It’s staggering; we get a new diagnosis every two to three weeks.”

Last year, BFD produced a video about their firefighters with cancer and followed it up with another video on being proactive to reduce carcinogen exposure and healthier lifestyles.

Other Safety Forum programs included Improving Firefighter Safety with Thermal Imaging, by Mike Richardson; Behavior Based Safety for the ISO, by Greg James; and OSHA – Changes are Coming, with Karl Beeman and Bruce Varner. The IAFC Safety Health & Survival offered specific five tracks for safety officer featuring trends and case studies.

The 30th annual Apparatus Symposium will be held in Scottsdale, January 15-17, 2018, and a new location, the Scottsdale Plaza Resort.



The Fire Department Safety Officers Association (FDSOA) was established in 1989 as a non-profit association, incorporated in Massachusetts. In 2013, the offices moved to Michigan. 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 the 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 works to helps fire departments achieve proficiency and promote the recognition of training, skills and a secure future. In May 2016, FDSOA won the Paul S. Sarbanes Fire Service Safety Leadership Award for its work over 28 years, “as an organization fully dedicated to the health and safety of the nation’s firefighters.”