What is the value of Accreditation? What is in it for my agency?
The Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) will provide your agency with the accreditation model, various accreditation publications, and access to experienced mentors and peer assessors. Your agency, however, will have to do the work. We promise, it’s worth it.
Working towards, achieving, and maintaining accreditation:
- Provides greater community alignment.
- Encourages quality improvement.
- Facilitates input from and builds positive relationships with labor.
- Identifies areas of strengths and weaknesses.
- Allows for the establishment of a plan for improvement.
- Provides for greater data-driven decision-making.
- Communicates management and leadership philosophies.
- Ensures your agency has a defined mission and related objectives.
- Encourages the development of organizational procedural documents.
- Learn more about how to get accredited or contact us to chat about the accreditation process.
How long does it take to achieve Accreditation?
Timelines for achieving accredited agency status vary based on the organization’s capabilities, team size, expertise, and overall commitment to the process. It is our experience that most agencies can implement the processes required for peer review in two to three years.
How do we get access to tools, templates, and communications available from CFAI?
To obtain access to the tools, templates, and communications from CFAI, you must become a Registered or Applicant Agency agency and designate one individual within the agency as the official Accreditation Manager. The Accreditation Manager will be provided with access to our platforms.
Does the Accreditation model apply to volunteer fire departments?
Absolutely! The CFAI model applies to any fire department that provides emergency services to a community. If you are interested in assessing your organizational performance and community risk then the effectiveness of this model is blind to which departments are career, volunteer, or combination.
What training is required for my agency’s Accreditation working team?
Only the agency’s designated Accreditation Manager is required to attend the Quality Improvement Fire and Emergency Services course and the Peer Assessor Workshop. However, if agencies are able, we strongly encourage them to train additional working team members through these courses and workshops. Numerous other opportunities for training are available from CFAI and through your local CPSE Consortium. Visit the CPSE University page for more information.
What is the best way for an agency to prepare for Applicant Agency status?
We recommend that the agency’s accreditation manager, fire chief, and at least one other person who can fill in for the accreditation manager, when necessary, attend the live Quality Improvement for the Fire and Emergency Services (QIFES) Workshop.
The accreditation manager’s first step should be to build a team of key members within the agency who will serve as the agency’s accreditation working group. CFAI recommends the accreditation manager review Section 4 of the current self-assessment manual to better understand the type of people they will need on the accreditation team. For example, you may seek a city or county finance officer to lead the Category 4 – Financial Resources review. More diverse teams typically result in better outcomes and experiences for the entire community. You may also find that you need additional expert assistance outside of your organization. If that’s something you’d like to consider, please contact our Technical Advisor Program (TAP).
Next, the accreditation manager (and any others) should attend the Peer Assessor Workshop and plan to become qualified as a CFAI peer assessor. We also strongly recommend the agency’s accreditation manager plan to participate as a peer assessor and complete an agency peer review and site visit to fully understand how the peer assessment process works.
Before requesting a move to applicant agency status, an agency should have completed their Community Risk Assessment/Standards of Cover, Community-Driven Strategic Plan, and have begun to address Categories 1-3 of the self-assessment manual.
What are the timelines for submitting final documents for a site visit?
CFAI currently holds public hearings twice annually to vote on granting accredited status. These hearings are in the spring at CPSE’s Excellence Conference and in the summer at the CPSE Summer Symposium. Agencies wishing to achieve accredited status in the spring will need to upload all required accreditation documents to the online platform by September 30 of the previous year. The deadline for the summer hearings is March 31 of the same year. Check the website to stay updated on any changes in the hearing’s schedules and site visits.
Can I request a delay, deferral, or an extension of the deadlines established by CFAI?
Agencies cannot request a delay or deferral as these are decisions only the peer team (delay) or the Commission (deferral) can make. Agencies may request an extension of their Applicant status at the approval of the CFAI Program Manager or the CFAI Commission. To learn more about how to request an extension in the CFAI Policy and Procedures Manual, visit the Accreditation Managers’ SharePoint resource page.
What is an accreditation Peer Assessor?
Peer assessors are CFAI’s trained volunteer agents who are tasked with verifying and validating an agency’s accreditation documents and conducting on-site assessments. Peer assessors, as a team, make a recommendation to the CFAI Commission to either accredited, defer, or deny an agency based upon their assessment.
What are the requirements to become a Peer Assessor?
To serve in the capacity of peer assessor, an individual must meet the following requirements:
- Successful completion of the Quality Improvement for the Fire and Emergency Services and Peer Assessor workshops.
- Completion and approval of a Personal Resource Inventory (PRI) form
- Sponsorship by the prospective peer assessor’s agency (e.g., fire chief, city manager, mayor, etc.). Peer assessors must come from an agency that has started the accreditation process with CFAI (registered, applicant, candidate, or accredited).
- Individuals must be assigned to a peer team within 18 months of final approval as a peer assessor.
Peer assessors must have the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to effectively evaluate all areas of an organization. Typically, these individuals will be considered at the agency’s officer or supervisor level and above to be considered for peer team assignment. CFAI recognizes that many agencies have employed civilian equivalents within their organization to perform accreditation work. These individuals will be considered on an individual basis based on their job descriptions and recommendation of their fire chief.
How are Peer Assessors assigned to teams?
When assigning peer assessors to a team, we strive to match assessors to agencies of similar size and where their experience will be most effective (e.g., EMS patient transport agencies vs. BLS only agencies).
CFAI maintains detailed information on all our volunteer peer assessors. To avoid any possible conflicts of interest, our peer assessors have had no direct relationship, past or present, with the agency being assessed.
What is a Consortium?
Accredited agencies have found that banding together to form regional Consortiums is a very effective networking opportunity. Click here to see the consortium in your area, who to contact for more information, and details on their meeting frequency and location. Click here to learn more about Consortiums.
How are CFAI Commissioners appointed?
The commission’s current 12-member CFAI Commission represents a real cross-section of the fire and emergency service from around the world. The Commission includes representatives from fire departments, city and county management, labor, standards development organizations, and the United States Department of Defense. CFAI Commissioners are appointed by the CPSE Board of Directors.
When an opening is identified, CPSE directly recruits fire chiefs and city/county managers and solicits and accepts nominations from appropriate organizations for the labor, insurance industry, and standard development positions.
Commissioners are appointed to serve an initial term of three years and are eligible to be reappointed for up to a maximum of three terms of three years each for a total service time of nine years.
Can an agency appeal a decision on Accreditation from the CFAI Commission?
If an agency feels the final vote to defer or deny agency accreditation was made in error, the agency in question may appeal that final decision. The first step in appealing a CFAI accreditation decision is to submit an appeal to email@example.com within 14 days of the Commission’s final decision. A process is then followed that allows for the agency’s issues to be clearly examined and resolved.
Who Is chosen to serve on the Appeals Committee?
A three-member Appeals Committee is made up of a prior CFAI commissioner, a prior CPC commissioner, and a fire chief of an accredited department that holds a CPC designation. The Appeals Committee meets, as needed, to hear appeals of commission decisions.