#iFIRELAFTC // May 4-6, 2020
Long Beach Convention Center - Seaside Ballroom // Long Beach, CA 90802

Firefighter Safety & Health Track

Firefighter Safety & Health

Career and life longevity are two of the most important aspects of a successful career as a firefighter. It's no secret that when we take the oath to serve our community as a firefighter we are assuming a degree of risk, risk that in many cases far exceed those encountered when serving in other professions.

These risks coupled with the ever expanding list of hazards presented by the toxicity of the modern fireground, sleep disruption, compromises to our nutritional health, and repeated exposure to traumatic events continuously threaten our career and life longevity.

This track will include sessions presented by recognized experts who will focus on the hazards we face and offer realistic, practical preventative measures we can implement within our departments to enhance the safety & health of our members.

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Last updated: February 20, 2020

Firefighter Safety & Health Track Sessions

Monday, May 4, 2020

11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

Critical Moments - Critical Decisions

Drawing from the principles of the OpMindset Program, Jeff dives deeper into why we make the decisions we make at all levels, from the firefighter to the Chief Officer. This exploration of crucial moments and critical decisions goes beyond what you’ve seen and explores the human biology that helps and hurts us in highly dynamic environments where we must rapidly assess the situation and determine our course of action. Delivered with a high level of participation, this talk advances a real-time and highly relevant conversation for those who engage.

Jeff Banman, Executive Director, Operation Mindset Foundation

1:30 PM - 3:00 PM

Effective Leadership in the Midst of the Cancer Crisis

Bryan Frieders, President, Firefighter Cancer Support Network


3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

The Firefighter Cancer Cohort Study & Wildland Urban Interface Fires - From Science to Research Based Policy Changes in the Fire Service

Wildland urban interface fires pose a unique set of challenges when it comes to firefighter exposure research and exposure reduction efforts. Diversity of fuels and products of combustion, lightweight PPE, lack of respiratory protection, geographic challenges, and incident duration are factors that likely result in exposures that are different than those in the structure firefighting arena. The question then becomes, how do we study exposures on these fires and what interventions can we put in place while maintaining public safety and our duty as the highest priority? This talk will examine these challenges and questions, as well as highlighting how science translates to research-based policy changes in the fire service.

Derek Urwin, Engineer, Los Angeles County Fire Department

Jeff Hughes, Captain, Orange County (CA) Fire Authority

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

My Assault and What We're Doing About It: Stress and Silence in the Fire-based EMS Responders (SAVER)

To date, no evidence-based intervention exists to prepare EMS responders for violence on the job. The SAVER Systems level checklist was created as an organization-level intervention to address stress and violence in EMS with a focus on the development of policy and training. Taylor will make the case that violent events to first responders can be mitigated. She'll also describe a checklist for the system, instead of a checklist that would put more burden on already overstretched responders. Fire and EMS leadership, front-line workers, dispatchers, and labor union representatives from the three SAVER study sites developed the checklist and eight model policies. The SAVER model policies are expected to positively impact organizational outcomes such as burnout, job engagement, and job satisfaction, as well as decreasing the number of assaults and injuries experienced by EMS personnel. These improvements may also lead to improved patient outcomes and quality of care.

Jennifer Taylor, Director, Center for Firefighter Injury Research and Safety (FIRST), Drexel University

Ben Vernon

1:30 PM - 3:00 PM

Behavioral Health in the Fire Service

Captain Frank Leto will overview current trends and data in the fire service related to behavioral health.  He will discuss emerging research on suicidal ideation as well as practical applications for prevention in the fire service.  Using his vast experience in developing and implementing behavioral health programs nationally, he will provide direction for personnel at any point in the process in developing an effective behavioral health program.

Frank Leto, Captain, Deputy Director, FDNY Counseling Service Unit


3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

Mental Health Awareness Within the First Responders and How to Find Help

Mental health has a huge stigma attached to it. In order to decrease it, we must talk about it openly. Attendees will be able to identify stressors from various situations at work and at home, as well as coping skills to use. A discussion and explanation of the long-term biological and psychological affects a career as a first responder can have on the way you think, behave, react, and interact in relationships. Finding a culturally competent clinician will be outlined with ways to vet them for a good fit.

Mynda Ohs PhD, Author and Mental Health Provider

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM

Cancer Awareness and the Role of the Firefighter Cancer Support Network

Cancer in the fire service has become the biggest threat to firefighter health and safety. Cancer has caused 61% of the firefighter line of duty deaths from Jan. 1, 2002 to Dec. 31, 2016, according to the IAFF. Cancer has caused 70% of the LODDs for career firefighters in 2016. Firefighters have a 9% higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer than the general population and a 14% higher risk of dying from cancer than the general population. This presentation will provide a detailed review of the services offered by the network, including badge-to-badge peer support for firefighters and their families. The network also offers  cancer awareness and prevention training to firefighters.

Scott Jennie, Captain, Laguna Beach (CA) Fire Department


Firefighter Safety & Health Track Instructors

Jeff Banman

Jeff Banman

Executive Director, Operation Mindset Foundation

As a former firefighter, U.S. Army Ranger and CIA counterterrorism operator, Jeff has dedicated his life to discovering what separates success from failure. He has conducted operations and been responsible for producing powerful results in over 23 countries, including two combat zones and multiple high-threat environments. He’s worked with senior officials and personnel on the ground. Jeff is known to produce results in highly diverse cultures with tremendous barriers to success and through all of this, he’s learned how to connect, unify, enroll, inspire, move people into action, and produce results that far exceed expectations.

Bryan Frieders

Bryan Frieders

President, Firefighter Cancer Support Network

Bryan currently serves as the deputy chief of operations for the Pasadena (CA) Fire Department and is the president of the non-profit Firefighter Cancer Support Network (FCSN). Bryan earned a master's in public administration, a bachelor's in vocational education, and an associate degree in fire science. He has more than 29 years of fire and EMS experience, including training, fire prevention, urban search and rescue, and emergency management. He is a liaison to the International Association of Fire Chiefs' Safety, Health and Survival Section, and a member of the National Cancer Alliance.

Jeff Hughes

Jeff Hughes

Captain, Orange County (CA) Fire Authority

Jeff is a Fire Captain with the Orange County Fire Authority with 37 years of firefighting experience. Jeff is a third-generation firefighter whose dad died of occupational cancer after serving 21 years with the Long Beach Fire Department. Jeff is currently assigned to the authority’s Risk Management Department and is the OCFA’s cancer awareness and prevention captain. Jeff is the chair for the FIRESCOPE Behavioral Health Working Group, creating plans for the mental health of future incidents for local, state, and federal partners.

Scott Jennie

Scott Jennie

Captain, Laguna Beach (CA) Fire Department

Scott is a fire captain and paramedic with the Laguna Beach (CA) Fire Department with over 30 years in the fire service. He's also the California director for the Firefighter Cancer Support Network and member of the Laguna Beach Professional Firefighters Association Local 3631.

Frank Leto

Frank Leto

Captain, Deputy Director, FDNY Counseling Service Unit

Frank is a 35-year veteran of the FDNY. His association with the counseling unit began as a crisis counselor for line of duty deaths and mass casualty events. On Sept. 11, 2001 he responded to the World Trade Center as the leader of a rescue team. Since 9/11, he has developed outreach, counseling, and educational programs for firefighters who have experienced traumatic events. He has worked closely with the International Association of Fire Fighters and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation to develop behavioral health protocols. .  Frank was one the first graduates of the West Point – FDNY Terrorism and Counterterrorism program and is a Certified Employees Assistance Professional.

Mynda Ohs, PhD

Mynda Ohs, PhD

Author and Mental Health Provider

As well as authoring a top new release on Amazon, Mynda provides critical incident debriefings, counseling services, as well as instructions at numerous conferences. Additionally, she comes with the experience in the EMS field as an EMT for four years and an emergency room technician. She has over 14 years of experience working in the field of crisis intervention and suicide prevention, and has been married to a Battalion Chief for over 22 years. This has given her a unique perspective of living within the first responder community and family, while adding to her education and professional experiences.

Jennifer Taylor

Jennifer Taylor

Director, Center for Firefighter Injury Research and Safety (FIRST), Drexel University

Jennifer is an injury epidemiologist and health services researcher at Drexel's Dornsife School of Public Health. Her research investigates the impact of safety climate on occupational injuries and related psychosocial outcomes. Taylor is the founding director of the Center for Firefighter Injury Research & Safety Trends (FIRST) at Drexel. It's home to the FIRE fellowship, an summer program for public health master's students. FIRST developed two organizational change tools, including the Fire Service Organizational Culture of Safety survey and the SAVER Systems level checklist for violence against EMS responders. Taylor holds a doctorate in health policy and management from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Derek Urwin

Derek Urwin

Engineer, Los Angeles County Fire Department

Derek is a PhD candidate in chemistry at UCLA and has been a firefighter for 13 years, currently serving as engineer with the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Derek is a member of California State Fire Training’s Behavioral Health and Cancer Awareness curriculum development cadre. His doctoral research is in the areas of applied mathematics and physical chemistry with a focus on developing computational methods to examine the structural and thermodynamic features of PAH-DNA adducts.