A Message from Dr. Paul Davis

Some of you may have already heard the rumors, but I’m making it official today. Yes, I’m retiring, but that doesn’t mean the Firefighter Challenge is too. In fact, the future has never been brighter for the program.

After much thought, I felt the Challenge in the United States would best continue and hopefully expand if placed under the umbrella of a nonprofit that aligns with its purpose. The First Responder Institute, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, will become home to the Challenge effective in the early part of 2022. You’re probably unfamiliar with this group as they’ve worked quietly behind the scenes for many years focused on various research endeavors. However, I’m familiar with them as one of the founding members. Their mission perfectly aligns with that of the Challenge: to inspire First Responders to aim for the highest level of fitness, wellness, and safety.

Reflecting on my incredible journey, I vividly remember in 1974 when Chief David Gratz, Director of
Fire/Rescue Services, Montgomery County, MD, walked into the Human Performance Laboratory at the Sports Medicine Center of the University of Maryland. He, accompanied with Dr. Leonard Marks, expressed the need for a validated test to use for new recruits. The mission: develop a physical ability test to determine whether a job applicant had the requisite capabilities to perform the essential job functions. As part of the study in 1976, my colleagues and I developed a physical testing course as a living laboratory. After witnessing the favorable response and proven results of the course, I launched the Firefighter Challenge in 1991.

Fast forward 30+ years, this endeavor has exceeded well beyond my original vision. It has allowed me the privilege of interacting with thousands of firefighters from around the world. Many are not just competitors in the Challenge but are ambassadors of the importance of proper and ongoing training in the fire service.

I am indebted to our competitors and sponsors for making the Firefighter Challenge a global sensation and look forward to the exciting future ahead for the US operations. Soon you’ll be introduced to Russell Jackson, the CEO of the nonprofit that myself and members of the board recruited to carry the program to the next level. His background in the nonprofit sector is extensive, and we are honored that he accepted our invitation to help. In the coming weeks, a few Zoom sessions will be held so you can meet him but more importantly, hear about some of the enhancements coming to the Challenge in 2022 and beyond.

Until then, as I’ve jokingly been saying, ”I’m retiring, not expiring!” Now my time will be free to focus on my original intent in developing research endeavors and professional development programs specific to the fire service. Furthermore, as the owner of the authored work, trademarks, etc., I will continue to support the Firefighter Challenge programs in other countries as part of On Target Challenge.

I’m confident that our paths will continue to cross. The First Responder Institute will further the positive impact the Challenge has already made in the fire sector. Thank you for your friendship and support! .

A Message from First Responder Institute

We invite you to join us in celebrating the work of Dr. Davis and the profound impact he has made with the Firefighter Challenge. During the coming months we will launch a few initiatives to let Paul know how much we appreciate him along with inviting you to share some memories, stories, good times and how the Challenge has impacted you both personally and professionally.

Then, at Worlds XXXI in Salt Lake City, we hope you will join us at a special dinner event where our multi­month campaign will conclude. Stay tuned for more details on our celebration campaign and how you can participate in the festivities.

For questions or idea’s please contact Russell Jackson at rjackson@firstresponder.org