Improving the Health & Safety of all Emergency Responders


(L to R) Don Cox, Jeanette Kehoe, Lindsay Judah, Dave Dodson, Travis Williams.

Three winners of the Fire Department Safety Officers Association’s (FDSOA) new Safety Forum Scholarship were introduced at the 2019 Safety Forum, January 20st, in Orlando, FL. The winners were Lindsay C. Judah, Orlando, FL; Jeanette Kehoe, Training and Safety Officer, Golden, CO, Fire Department; and Travis M. Williams, Safety Chief, Chattanooga, TN.

The 2019 Safety Forum Scholarship included registration to the Safety Forum, one two-day pre-Forum seminar (Incident Safety Officer or Health Safety Officer Academy), airfare or mileage and lodging.

Jeanette Kehoe commented that when she received word of the scholarship, she quickly signed up for the two-day Health and Safety Officer (HSO) Course. “I found the HSO class to be extremely helpful in gaining a foundation in the concepts, rules and regulations a Safety Officer needs to know,” she said.

Among the “pearls” of information Kehoe gathered from the forum were which respirators their Prevention Bureau should be using during investigation to better protect themselves and doing their own in-depth safety audit beyond what is required by the insurance.

“One of the best aspects of the forum was networking with peers from around the country and hearing how they solve the common problems we all face,” said Kehoe.

Travis M. Williams, Safety Officer, Chattanooga, TN, Fire Department, was a first-time attendee to the FDSOA Safety Forum. “Winning the scholarship also meant that we could afford to send another individual from our department to the Safety Forum,” said Williams.

“I was really impressed with the classes and the networking opportunities were excellent. What I learned at the conference has already been valuable and helped me in my job. In fact, I’ve reached out to Shadd Whitehead, one of the instructors, already.” Williams said his department is looking forward to sending more people to the Safety Forum next year.

Donald Cox, Education Specialist for VFIS, Platinum sponsor of the scholarships, commented, “VFIS, a Division of the Glatfelter Insurance Group, was honored to help support the 2019 Safety Officer Scholarship Awards for our three well-deserving recipients.”

Cox added, “Unfortunately not all departments have the training funds to send personnel to such a unique learning opportunity. The caliber and passion of our three attendees reinforced our belief that they returned to their organization willing and able to share lessons learned and improve the safety culture of their departments.”

The FDSOA Safety Forum Scholarship was created and initially funded by Dave Dodson, fire service author, lecturer and trainer. Dodson proposed the scholarship program to create a way to introduce new safety officers to the educational opportunities at the FDSOA Safety Forum.

“I’ve been very fortunate in my fire service life and feel it is time to pay it forward,” said Dodson. “Many individuals have influenced and assisted me along the way, so now it is my turn to assist others.”

Rich Marinucci, FDSOA Executive Director, shared, “We were pleased to be able to provide three scholarships this year and hope others will step forward to help us replenish the funds and offer more scholarships in the future. This is a unique opportunity to help safety officers who don’t have the means to attend the annual Safety Forum.”


Criteria for the scholarship application included current uniformed member with a minimum two years’ experience in a fire or emergency services organization and never attended an FDSOA Safety Forum in the past or in the past five years. Department approval for attendance accompanied the applications. The 2020 Safety Forum will be held January 12-16 in Scottsdale, Az.

The application period for the 2020 Safety Forum Scholarship will open in September 2019.

Photo: Winners of the 2019 Safety Forum Scholarship: (L to R) Don Cox, Jeanette Kehoe, Lindsay Judah, Dave Dodson, Travis Williams.


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.”