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Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell highlights data in first public remarks as U.S. fire administrator

Moore-Merrell spoke to the USFA mission, data system modernization, and the return of a full-service National Fire Academy in 2022


Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell, the newly installed U.S. fire administrator, speaks at the VCOS Symposium in the Sun event.

Photo/Marc Bashoor

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell gave her first public remarks as the newly installed U.S. fire administrator at the IAFC’s Symposium in the Sun event in Clearwater, Florida, on Thursday.

Just 14 days into her tenure as fire administrator, Dr. Moore-Merrell spoke to the USFA mission to support and strengthen fire and EMS services, and emphasized the symbolism of the four stars that are part of the USFA seal:

  1. Data
  2. Technology
  3. Research
  4. Training

Moore-Merrell provided a snapshot of her focus moving forward, concentrating on preparedness and resilience, of course, but also working to ensure that leaders are focusing on our companies and, most importantly, our first responders.

Anyone who has followed Moore-Merrell’s journey knows that data has been her professional drive, having served as president and CEO of the International Public Safety Data Institute. While she spoke about the need to continue focusing on translating science into practice, matching resources to risk experiences and other topics, she wove in the importance of data.

Specifically acknowledging the need to improve data systems and capabilities, Moore-Merrell spoke about modernizing the NFIRS data system, including both technology capabilities and refining the data set overall. Explaining the need to better understand the risk environment, she cautioned that the process will take time. She also noted that she will connect with a current FEMA project focused on a technology refresh. She assured the 500-plus attendees that data was going to drive much of what the USFA does moving forward.

Additionally, Moore-Merrell promised to work toward expanding the USFA’s reach to state and local agencies, and announced that the National Fire Academy will return to full capacity in 2022.

The administrator closed her short presentation with a discussion about the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion. She implored attendees to “be mentors – not only to those who are like you, but also to those who aren’t like you.”

As she closed out, Moore-Merrell acknowledged that “one size doesn’t fit all in our ever-changing risk environment. And sometimes we need to acknowledge that some traditions need to change.”

Chief Marc S. Bashoor joined the Lexipol team in 2018, serving as the FireRescue1 and Fire Chief executive editor and a member of the Editorial Advisory Board. With 40 years in emergency services, Chief Bashoor previously served as public safety director in Highlands County, Florida; as chief of the Prince George’s County (Maryland) Fire/EMS Department; and as emergency manager in Mineral County, West Virginia. Chief Bashoor assisted the NFPA with fire service missions in Brazil and China, and has presented at many industry conferences and trade shows. He has contributed to several industry publications. He is a National Pro-board certified Fire Officer IV, Fire Instructor III and Fire Instructor. Connect with Chief Bashoor at on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. Do you have a leadership tip or incident you’d like to discuss? Send the chief an email.