Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell was appointed by President Joseph Biden as the U.S. fire administrator on Oct. 25, 2021. Prior to her appointment, Lori served nearly 3 years as the president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the International Public Safety Data Institute, which she founded after retiring from a 26-year tenure as a senior executive in the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF).
Lori is considered an expert in executive leadership, emergency response system evaluation, public safety resource deployment, community risk assessment, data science/analytics, strategic planning, costs and benefits analysis, advocacy, consensus building, policy development and implementation, and generational differences in the workplace.
As a Doctor of Public Health and a data scientist, Dr. Moore-Merrell recently served on the Biden-Harris Transition Team to conduct agency review for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as part of the COVID-19 response planning. She has also served on the Public Safety Committee of the transition teams for both the mayor of New York City (2013) and the mayor of the District of Columbia (2015).
Lori serves on national and international boards of directors and advises elected officials, CEOs, and local metropolitan fire chiefs in areas of her expertise while providing them scientific data to make fact-based decisions. She was recently awarded Honorary Membership in the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association for her expertise in areas of fire prevention, fire suppression or other related disciplines. Lori is only the fourth individual to be presented this honor in the 54-year history of the organization.
Dr. Moore-Merrell is an international speaker, presenter, and author. She has also been awarded the James O. Page Achievement Award by the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Section of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) (2001), twice awarded the IAFC President’s Award for commitment to firefighter safety (2009, 2019), the Dr. John Granito Award for Excellence in Fire Leadership and Management Research (2010), the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs President’s Award of Distinction (2013), the Mason Lankford Award from the Congressional Fire Services Institute (2019), and the Homeland Security Today Mission Award (2020).
Lori is a principal member of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 3000 Technical Committee and is an advisor to the chair of the NFPA 1710 Technical Committee. Lori served 9 years as a commissioner to the Commission for Fire Service Accreditation and 3 terms as a board member for the Center for Public Safety Excellence. Dr. Moore-Merrell is a member of the International Fire Service Training Association Executive Board, as well as the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) Fire Council.
During her 26 years at the IAFF, Lori spent more than 17 years leading a research team made up of international fire service organizations and other partners, including the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the UL, the Urban Institute, the University of Texas, Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the Commission on Fire Accreditation International. As principal investigator and senior project manager on projects funded by FEMA/Assistance to Firefighters Grants totaling more than $23 million, she led the team to produce landmark reports and other tools to improve residential and high-rise fireground operations, community risk assessment, fire, and EMS resource deployment, and “Big Data Analytics” — all to help drive executive decision-making. These reports and other resources have changed the face of fire and EMS deployment in countries throughout the world.
Dr. Moore-Merrell has also managed emergency response system evaluation project teams, including secure data procurement, geographic information systems analysis and workload analysis in hundreds of fire departments throughout North America.
Lori began her fire service career in 1987 as a fire department paramedic in the City of Memphis Fire Department, Memphis, Tennessee.