International Training Conference & Expo


Improving Fire Investigator Health and Safety – Part 1

Wednesday, April 13, 2022 (8:00am – 10:00am) (Ballroom 5)


This first session looks at research projects underway and recently completed that directly impact understanding fire investigator health and safety. Presentations will address the National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) research on reducing exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) released from fire gear and the University of Miami research characterizing carcinogenic exposures and occupational health concerns among fire investigators.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand how fire gases can adversely affect fire investigator health

  • Recognize the breadth of carcinogenic exposure hazards in the post-fire environment, and

  • Better understand the exposure hazards to substances found at most every post-fire scene


Dr. Alberto Caban-Martinez

Dr. Alberto Caban-Martinez is a board-certified physician-scientist, Associate Professor of Public Health Sciences, Deputy Director of the MD-MPH Program, and Assistant Provost for Research Integrity at the University of Miami. He has over 10 years of domestic and international practice experience and research expertise in environmental and occupational health. He serves as the Deputy Director of the Firefighter Cancer Initiative at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and Co-Director and Principal Investigator of the FEMA-funded Fire Fighter Cancer Cohort Study. This national epidemiologic firefighter cohort study includes under-represented firefighter subgroups such as fire investigators, firefighter trainers/instructors, wildland-urban interface, and volunteer firefighters. He is a former Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences' Gulf Research Program, and in 2014, he was appointed to the Institute of Medicine's Committee of Gulf War and Health for two years to provide scientific expertise on occupational exposures and work-related health conditions.  His research work with first responders and construction workers led him to an appointment on the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health's National Occupational Research Agenda committee, setting the national research agenda on worker health and safety. He has had scientific articles published in the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA Dermatology, American Journal of Public Health, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Preventive Medicine, and Neuropharmacology. He has published over 144 peer-reviewed publications and given over 232 scientific presentations on a wide range of occupational health and safety topics. Dr. Caban-Martinez is an IAAI Health & Safety Committee advisory panel member.


Dr. Natasha Schaefer Solle

Dr. Natasha Schaefer Solle is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Solle's research interests focus on occupational cancer risks and improving cancer screening in underserved communities. She is currently funded through a NIOSH grant to study cervical cancer risk and screening among female firefighters. She has also played a critical role in the conception of the Firefighter Cancer Initiative, a multi-faceted project funded by the state of Florida to study firefighters' exposure to carcinogens, examine their cancer risk, and develop methods of education about prevention and early detection. In addition, she has extensive experience in qualitative research methodology and community-based participatory research. Most of her work has involved engaging minority populations in Florida to help circumvent barriers to care and increase cancer screening practices (i.e., colorectal and cervical).  The focus of her research is very well aligned with her leadership role at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center as the Assistant Director of the Behavioral and Community-based Research Shared Resource, she is responsible for overseeing research services used to facilitate biobehavioral and population research, reflective of catchment area need for Cancer Center investigators.


Dr. Rick Davis

Dr. Rick Davis joined the National Institute of Standards and Technology in 2000 as a National Research Council Postdoctoral researcher and is presently the leader of the Flammability Reduction Group and Manager of the Fire Risk Reduction in Buildings Research Program in the National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) Fire Research Division. Rick's group conducts research to use a combination of physical testing and computational tools to accelerate the development of fire testing standards and regulations and the development and commercialization of products resistant to fires originating within a structure and from wildland fires.  Over his career at NIST, Rick's research has involved innovative fire-retardant technologies for a wide variety of commercial and residential building contents and structural components and testing methods to reduce the fire losses associated with furniture and mattresses.  Rick was awarded two US Department of Commence Bronze Medals for his research in these areas – Standard Reference Material foam and cigarettes used for smoldering ignition regulatory testing of soft furnishings.  Currently, Rick's primary research is on reducing a Firefighter's exposure to per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) released from their gear.