A community-driven strategic plan process is another key to overall agency credibility. Communities are charged with making critical decisions about their services and being involved in those decisions is a part of the accreditation process.

A credible strategic plan involves taking the time and the effort to not only look externally, but internally at the overall health of the organization. The strategic planning process required for agency accreditation forces the fire department to ask both the community served, and their firefighters, tough questions about their programs, performance, and future direction.

Specific goals and objectives are a key part of the strategic plan. Not only defining those goals and mapping the objectives but defining who is responsible for the development and implementation of the plan must be well defined. Everything from the specifics of what, who, when, and how to where the timeline funding come together all result in a successful and credible strategic plan.

Successful agencies, when completed, will create 250 plans for specific performance improvement when they write to their Self-Assessment Model. Taken together, the SAM plans, and the SAM performance indicator responses, along with the strategic plan, form a clear roadmap to continuous improvement for the agency.