Fire Chief Otto Drozd, III Candidate Message for Office of IAFC 2nd Vice President

Published: 4/23/2018
Author: Fire Chief Otto Drozd, III, Orange County Fire Rescue Department

Dear Members of the International Association of Fire Chiefs,

Since being encouraged to seek the office of IAFC 2nd Vice President it has been my distinct honor to receive the endorsement and support of several individuals and organizations. Including the following (for a complete list please visit,

Organizational Endorsement/Support

National Associations

Southeastern Division of the IAFC
Missouri Valley Division of the IAFC
Western Division of the IAFC
Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association Section of the IAFC
National Association of State Fire Marshals        

State Associations

Alabama Association of Fire Chiefs
California Fire Chiefs Association
California Metropolitan Fire Chiefs
Colorado State Fire Chiefs
Florida Fire Chiefs Association
Florida Fire Marshals and Inspectors Association
Kentucky Association of Fire Chiefs
Tennessee Fire Chiefs Association

What I committed to them, I commit to each and every one of you. I pledge to listen, build consensus, and effectively represent your interests and our great Fire Service.

I am grateful and fortunate to be in my 31st year of service and can say without equivocation that the hope and promise of the American Dream is alive and well. Having entered our service with a high school diploma, I was afforded opportunity to earn my Bachelors, Masters, EFO, and attend Harvard’s Kennedy School through a fire service fellowship.  These opportunities have instilled a deep passion and obligation to exhaust all efforts toward the betterment of our service. 

As a member of the IAFC and Southeastern since 2002 I have progressively sought out opportunities to serve. As the current President of the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association and Florida Fire Chiefs Association I have used these platforms to make positive contributions to our fire service.  Together we will focus on enhancing the service provided to our members and improving our fire service through a pragmatic set of timely platform initiatives that include;

Health and Safety 
We must meet the challenge of protecting our firefighters against threats to their health and safety. Therefore, I will work toward integrating cancer and mental health training as a compulsory part of firefighter training through inclusion in standards and all fire service texts. 

Actions - In September, I attended the National Fallen Firefighters’ Foundation - Fire Service Occupational Cancer and presented the concept of integrating cancer and mental health training into the curriculum of all entry level firefighters, as a way to change the culture and expectations of new entrants to our service. This was followed up by presenting the concept at the 2017 Urban Fire Forum and authoring a position paper which was passed unanimously (

In Florida, this was taken a step further, by passing legislation that is awaiting the Governor’s signature. The Law requires the establishment of cancer and mental health related courses to train career and volunteer firefighters about risks within the fire service. The training will be a requirement to obtain a Firefighter Certificate of Compliance, a Volunteer Firefighter Certificate of Completion, or a Special Certificate of Compliance. The training must include cancer and mental health awareness, prevention, mitigation, and treatment as well as lifestyle, environmental, inherited, and occupational risks and must emphasize appropriate behavior, attitude, and cultural changes within the fire service.

Fire Service Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility
I will work with our Human Relations Committee to develop best practice guidance to be added to our member services and develop a cadre of subject matter experts who can provide our members with direct assistance to assess and develop locally relevant programs.

Actions - Far too often, Fire Chiefs across our industry struggle with recruitment, retention, and integration of diverse fire service candidates. The IAFC’s member services should include a robust program capable of assessing local communities and tailoring programs to assist departments in meeting community diversity goals. Not addressing these issues of inclusion can impact the credibility of an organization and put our member Chiefs at risk. 

Strengthening the provision of EMS
I will work with our EMS Section to develop sustainable, mobile integrated health care (expanded scope EMS) while ensuring that revenues from Ground Emergency Medical Transport Programs are not negatively im

Actions – Over the last three years I have worked cooperatively with a task group of fire service professionals including Dennis Compton, Dr. Lori Moore Merrell, Gary Ludwig, Kevin Roche, and Thomas Beyer to integrate EMS competencies into NFPA 1001 and NFPA 1021. The premise behind the work of the task group was to assure that the provision of EMS was an integral part of our fire standards, so that we can protect the viability of fire-based EMS. Thus far, we have been successful in this integration effort within both standards. Prior to this, EMS, which has been conducted by fire service organizations since the early 1970’s, was absent in our fire standards.

When federal legislation was being proposed that could have negatively impacted fire-based EMS departments and established GEMT programs, I was able to help facilitate a meeting between IAFC President John Sinclair, IAFF leadership, and the Metro to discuss the issue. Working side by side with other members of the IAFC’s EMS Reimbursement Taskforce we were able to defend against potential harmful legislation that could have negatively impacted Ground Emergency Medical Transport programs across the nation.

Ensuring the sustainability of Fire Service Programs
I will be a tireless advocate for the sustainability of our grant programs, funding for fire service research, and our National Fire Academy.

Actions – We must continuously monitor legislative actions serving to limit grant funding available to member departments and support those that fund our U.S. Fire Administration and National Fire Academy at appropriate levels. I believe this is an area where we can utilize the strength of our Divisions to advocate to their local Representative and Senators. Over the last several years, we have begun to see the value of our fire service research programs which are putting fire science back into fire behavior through the efforts of the NIST research and other studies. Given our constantly changing environments and the all hazard nature of our member departments, these programs are critical in protecting our communities and providing for the safety of our firefighters.

Integrating Technology to improve the provision of Fire Services
I will work with all of our Divisions, Sections, and Committees to establish a best practice guide to assist our members in identifying which technologies would best serve the needs of their individual departments.

Actions – I believe that if used appropriately, technology can be a force multiplier for our service. However, the challenge is in identifying high yield, cost effective alternatives that truly enhance safety and the provision of service. This is where the IAFC can be a clearing house for our members. A good example was the IAFC’s UAS Task Force which built a robust tool kit available for members. These types of efforts can facilitate the use of technologies and possibly lead to a business model that can connect members with the appropriate service providers or vendors. 

Standardizing the use of data to support Fire Service viability
I will work with fire service organizations to research how our fire services are currently reporting workload data and economic impacts. This data would be used to develop a standardized approach to report fire service workload and contributions to accurately represent our value to communities' quality of life across all jurisdictions.

Actions – I believe that the current manner in which fire and emergency service providers report workload data, inadequately represents the true value that fire and emergency services provide for their communities. Therefore, I have proposed a research project to capture the true workload of fire service organizations. This comparative analysis will study fire service annual reports, data preparation, and offer recommendations on how to deliver an adequate description of fire and emergency service work efforts. This will encompass analysis of call types, resources responding, and staffing. The analysis will also assess those efforts essential to having a well-trained, capable force such as training, response, unit response hours, man hours, system capabilities, and resiliency. Based on the collected data, a system will be devised to provide member departments with the ability to report an accurate representation of their service efforts and accomplishments.

Integrated approach to Terrorism & Homeland Security
I will work with our Terrorism and Homeland Security Committee to seek ways to continue supporting a cross-functional approach to terrorism, active shooter, and hostile events impacting our international community. This will be done with input from our member Divisions and Sections to assure a reasonable approach that can be adapted for Volunteer, Combination, and Career Departments.

Actions – I will continue to advocate for the newly established NFPA 3000 Standard for Response and Preparedness to Active Shooter/Hostile Events, the first national competency standard applicable to law enforcement, fire, and EMS personnel. With the advent of this standard, there will be a continued need to provide member departments with the resources and opportunities to not only respond appropriately in an integrated fashion, but to be able to assist in bringing their communities to normalcy in the aftermath of these events.

Another initiative I would like to move forward is establishing a funding mechanism for member department to be able to participate in the Joint Counterterrorism Assessment Team. To date, because of funding restrictions, less than 10 fire service organizations have participated in this federal fellowship program which integrates first responders and public safety professionals into the Intelligence Community. I believe this effort will provide long lasting benefits toward the goal of having a truly cross-functional approach to Homeland Security issues.

As a fellow IAFC member I ask that you exercise your right to vote in our IAFC Elections through email balloting May 10, 2018 – June 24, 2018. I humbly ask that when voting you consider voting for someone that will listen, build consensus, and effectively represent your interests and our great Fire Service. - Vote Chief Otto Drozd for IAFC 2nd VP.

Yours in Service,


Otto Drozd III, EFO, CFO

Fire Chief

Orange County Fire Rescue Department

Sign up to subscribe to custom state Daily Dispatch emails for free

click to subscribe