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Do You Know the Research Center and Policy Institute?

Some of you may be familiar with the International Fire Service Research Center and Policy Institute, also known as the Institute. Still more of you are not familiar with it or with its most recent program, Researchers Creating Usable Emergency Solutions, or RESCUES.

The Institute was originally formed by the IAFC in 2002 as a committee and become an independent 501c3 organization in 2007. The Institute was formed to explain what the fire and emergency service does.

In the face of an ever-evolving and growing mission, the IAFC and it leaders felt that the Institute could engage a policy discussion to a national level, akin to the doctrine discussions so beloved by the U.S. military and other groups. In that doctrine concept, stated principles guide overarching policy decisions.

Led by Chief Bill Metcalf, IAFC President 2013-2014, the Institute includes a board of directors that represents the fire and emergency service. The board, under the direction of Chief Metcalf, is seeking to improve public-safety entities by adopting research, science and data.

As the Institute itself has evolved, its focus has turned from strictly policy discussion to a deeper focus on the research concerns within it mission. The fire and emergency service, through the examples of UL and NIST research as well as many others, has increasingly included research and science in its decision-making processes.

Historically, the fire and emergency service has used research to improve equipment and hardware. New efforts are seeking to embrace this history and expand it to new topics, including firefighter health and wellness and code development among other topics.


Through an award from the Assistance to Firefighters Grant/Fire Prevention and Safety grant program, the Institute has built the Researchers Creating Usable Emergency Solutions (RESCUES) project to help expand the use of research.

RESCUES has focused on several studies, including:

  • Motivational Intervention to Maximize Peer Behavioral Health Awareness and Skill (Suzy Bird Gulliver, PhD; Texas A&M)
  • Effect of Aspirin on Hemostatic and Vascular Function After Live Fire Fighting’(Gavin Horn, PhD; The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois)
  •  Fire Exposures of Fire Fighter Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus Facepiece Lenses 2011 (Amy Mensch, George Braga, Nelson Bryner; NIST)
  • The Impact of Nutrition Environment in the Fire Service on Health and Safety (Dr. Sara Yahnke; National Development and Research Institutes, Inc.)

Fact sheets and other materials are being developed to provide the fire service with useable tools to present and apply findings from research.

From a strategic perspective, RESCUES is also working on improving researcher relationships with the fire/emergency service.

RESCUES is similar to the IAFC’s Firefighter Safety Through Advanced Research (FSTAR) project. However, FSTAR focuses specifically on fire behavior and fire dynamics research; RESCUES is focusing on firefighter safety and health.

For more information about the Institute and RESCUES, visit the Institute's webpage.

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