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The Fire Protection Research Foundation (Research Foundation), the research affiliate of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), has received nearly $200,000 in Fire Prevention and Safety Grant money from FEMA to study the Economic and Emotional Impact of an Active Shooter/Hostile Event.

The Research Foundation will oversee the two-year project working closely with NFPA and, in particular, the technical committee for NFPA 3000, Standard for an Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response (ASHER) Program. NFPA 3000 is the world’s first standard to help communities holistically plan for, respond to, and recover from mass casualty events.

Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response Program

Emergency responders, directly involved with active shooter/hostile event tragedies, can suffer life-long impact

Emergency responders, who are directly involved with horrific active shooter/hostile event tragedies can suffer life-long impact. This toll is felt acutely by the individual sufferer, but it is also affects the 29,819 fire departments in the U.S; 18,000 law enforcement agencies (according to the latest information from the Bureau of Justice Statistics); and 51,808 local government units (per data from the 2012 Census of Governments), most of which bear the costs associated with expanded mental health resources, staff turnovers, early retirements, and staff reassignments.

Additionally, victims and community members experience ongoing trauma, and yet, there is little information available on the cost of these impacts to inform resource allocation and public policy. The research goal is to establish a sustainable, quantified approach to measure the impact of active shooter and hostile events by:

  • Establishing valid economic measures for the fire service and others;
  • Quantifying the short-and-long-term emotional impact on emergency responders;
  • Justifying resources needed for preparedness, training, equipment, and other critical needs;
  • Supporting the unified approach outlined in NFPA 3000

Improving mental health of emergency responders

The impetus behind the project dates back to May 2018, when the Research Foundation received a request from Chief Otto Drozd of Orange County, Florida asking for research that looks at how a first responder’s psyche and physical well-being are affected, and departmental budgets are impacted by active shooter and hostile events.

Drozd’s request stemmed from what he witnessed from his own department’s experiences after the Pulse Night Club shooting incident in Orlando. Next, the Metro Chiefs, a group of fire chiefs from cities or jurisdictions with a minimum of 350 fully paid career firefighters, discussed the topic at the Urban Fire Forum in September 2018 and generated a position paper that touched on the impact to the fire service.

NFPA 3000 Technical Committee

The Research Foundation convened a sub-group of the full NFPA 3000 Technical Committee in November 2018

The Research Foundation then convened a sub-group of the full NFPA 3000 Technical Committee in November 2018 to ask attendees what they considered to be a research priority related to active shooter and hostile events.

Representatives from the fire service (International Association of Fire Fighters, Metro Chiefs, NFPA, Orange County Fire/Response Department); emergency medical services (American Ambulance Association), and law enforcement (Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training, Department of Justice, Fraternal Order of Police, International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the National Police Foundation) supported the proposed economic and emotional impact research effort and the Assistance to Firefighter Grant (AFG) proposal was submitted, on their behalf.

Tackling hostile events/active shooter incidents

The deliverables from this project will be used to quantify the toll on public safety departments, including the long-term emotional impact on personnel. Highlighting these costs can help justify the necessary resources to plan and train for all phases of active shooter and hostile event incidents, including the highly-complex recovery phase. The project will:

  • Identify the relevant impacts on public safety departments, as well as available data and methodologies to estimate their costs in dollars;
  • Develop a framework to benchmark costs, and identify gaps in data;
  • Use the framework to complete three case studies utilizing communities of different sizes and demographic compositions;
  • Establish recommendations for planning, training, and recovery for active shooter and hostile event response that could help reduce or avoid costs;
  • Disseminate methodology/framework, case studies, and recommendations to appropriate audiences.

This research project will have a long-term, positive impact on improving first responder safety, health and wellness"

First responders’ safety and health

This research project will have a significant long-term, positive impact on improving first responder safety, health and wellness, as well as civilian well-being, “Research Foundation Executive Director Casey Grant said.

He adds, “With a rigorous estimation of costs, public safety leaders will be better equipped to advocate for the resources needed to implement best practices for planning, training, and event recovery. Currently, the cost of these efforts is being undervalued because we lack quantification or informed motivation to invest in improved practices.

The research project will begin in Fall 2019 and the final report and other deliverables are expected to be completed by September 2021.

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