Otto Drozd has been named the executive secretary of the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association (Metro Chiefs), a section of NFPA and the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC). The long-time fire chief in Florida and Texas will succeed Russ Sanders who is retiring after 26 years of leading Metro Chiefs and nearly three decades with the Louisville (Ky.) Fire Department – the last nine as head of the department.
Drozd has an impressive resume that includes 35 years of working to advance fire, emergency response and regional planning. He spent the last 20 years leading departments in Seminole County (Fla.), Orange County (Fla.), Hialeah (Fla.) and El Paso (Tex.), and has served as president of the state fire chiefs’ association in Florida and as vice president of the IAFC. Drozd is one of only three fire chiefs over the last 30 years who has served consecutive terms as president of the Metro Chiefs.
It was Drozd’s initiative and insights that prompted the fast-tracked development of NFPA 3000, Standard for an Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response (ASHER) Program in 2016. His Orange County fire department responded to a mass casualty event at the Pulse night club in Orlando that year and noticed that departments could benefit from whole community pre-incident planning, response and recovery guidance. So, he requested that NFPA develop the world’s first ASHER standard to help with integrated, proactive strategies. The Association responded by bringing together more than 50 safety influencers who worked over the course of 20 months to develop NFPA 3000. In May 2018, NFPA 3000 was released as a provisional standard for only the second time in NFPA’s long history; that initial version of NFPA 3000 was updated earlier this year.
Throughout his career, Drozd has worked to enhance his professional capabilities by prioritizing community involvement, participating in work groups, taking on membership organization advisory roles, volunteering as part of the standards development process and investing in his education. He has a Bachelor of Public Management from Florida Atlantic University and a Master of Science from St. Thomas University; is a graduate of the United States Fire Administration’s Executive Fire Officer Program and is recognized as a Chief Fire Officer by the Center of Public Safety Excellence. Additionally, the new Metro Chiefs leader has completed urban/regional planning programs at the University of Texas at El Paso and Harvard’s Kennedy School for senior executives in state and local government.
Metro Chiefs has been bringing together the single highest-ranking uniform officers (chief of department/commissioner – active or retired) from the US and abroad since 1965. Members represent large cities or jurisdictions with a minimum of 350 fully paid career firefighters. They discuss emerging trends, high-profile incidents, and major policy issues that are affecting the fire service and work to ensure that the latest science, technology and data is factored into planning and protocols in large urban areas.