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Bob AthanasRetired FDNY, Rescue 3Chairman, NFPA Electronic Safety Equipment Committee

Beginning in 1983 Bob served as a Fire Alarm Dispatcher in the FDNY’s busy Brooklyn Central Office before being assigned to the FDNY’s Computer Assisted Dispatch Operation Unit (CADO) until his appointment as a firefighter in 1987. After more than 35 years of service, he retired from the FDNY after spending the last 29 years assigned to Rescue Co 3 in the Bronx. During that time he also worked part time as a dispatcher in the Orange County NY Fire Dispatch Center.

In 1995 he became a member of the FEMA/DHS US&R NYTF-1 serving as a Communication Specialist responsible for managing, and maintaining all communications systems including radio, satellite, telephone, internet, GPS and networks during deployments to areas with compromised infrastructure as a result of manmade or natural disasters. He deployed with the team more than a dozen times including deployments to Haiti and the Dominican Republic as well as around the US. Bob also served on the US&R Communication Working Group responsible for operational and equipment recommendations for the he entire FEMA US&R TF communications system.

In 2013 he became a member of the FDNY Tactical Communications Working Group as they began the process of research, evaluation, purchase, and training of more than 6000 new handie talkie portable radios for FDNY Fire & EMS that were placed in service in 2018. He was also involved the rewriting of relevant portions of the FDNY Communications Manual relative to the new radios.

Bob is also president of SAFE-IR, INC. a thermal imager training and consulting group that has been training firefighters on the safe, tactical application of thermal imagers since 1996. Bob has taught thermal imaging in several countries including the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, Germany, Czech Republic and Taiwan. He consults with thermal imager core and fire service camera manufacturers and organizations such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the US Department of Commerce, NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program. 

He was the lead instructor for thermal imager training programs at the FDNY Fire Academy and was involved in the evaluation, testing and training of the new thermal imagers recently purchased by the FDNY.

Bob currently serves as the chairman of the NFPA Technical Committee on Electronic Safety Equipment which is responsible for NFPA 1982: Standard on Personal Alert Safety Systems (PASS) and they developed NFPA 1801: Standard on Thermal Imagers for the Fire Service and the recently released NFPA 1802: Standard on Two-Way, Portable RF Voice Communications Devices for Use by Emergency Services Personnel in the Hazard Zone.