What is the value of accreditation? What is in it for my agency?
The Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) will provide your agency the accreditation model, various accreditation publications and trainings, and access to experienced 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 data supported decision-making.
- Communicates management and leadership philosophies.
- Ensures your agency has a defined mission and related objectives.
- Encourages the development of organizational procedural documents.
How long does it take to achieve accreditation?
Timelines for achieving accreditation vary based on the organizations capabilities, team size, expertise, and commitment. Currently, agencies have reported they spend approximately 2,000 hours preparing the required accreditation documents and up to 13,000 hours addressing all things they learn from the self-assessment. It is our experience that agencies generally take 3-5 years to work through the process to achieve accredited status.
How do I get access to tools, templates, and communications from CFAI?
To get access to tools, templates, and communications from CFAI, you must become a Registered or Applicant Agency and designate an accreditation manager who will be provided access to our platform. To become a registered agency:
- Learn more about how to get accredited.
- Registered Agency status is valid for three years and can be renewed as many times as you need.
- Registered agencies receive a copy of the most recent accreditation publication, gain access to an online platform, and may participate in frequent web-based trainings.
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 team?
Only the accreditation manager is required to attend the Quality Improvement Fire and Emergency Services Workshop and the CFAI Peer Assessment Webinar. However, if agencies are able, we encourage them to get additional team members trained by attending the above-noted classes.
We are a Registered Agency. What is the best way to prepare for Applicant Agency status?
We recommend that the accreditation manager, fire chief, and at least one other person who can fill in for the accreditation manager, when necessary, first attend the first attend the Quality Improvement for the Fire and Emergency Services (QIFES) Workshop. Then, the accreditation manager (and any others) should attend the CFAI Peer Assessor Webinar to become a CFAI peer assessor. The accreditation manager should conduct a site visit as a new peer assessor and gain the experience necessary to clearly understand how the peer assessment process works.
The accreditation manager’s first steps should be to build their team of key members within the process. It is recommended to review Section 4 of the current 10th edition book, to better understand the type of people you wish to have on the team. For example, you may seek out a City or County finance officer to lead Category 4 – Financial Resources. The more diverse you make the team, the better the outcome and experience it will be. If you find that you need additional expert assistance, outside of your organization, consider contacting our Technical Advisor Program (TAP).
Before moving to Applicant Agency Status an agency should have a final Community Risk Assessment/Standards of Cover completed, The Strategic Plan nearly complete, and have spoken to Categories 1-3 of the self-assessment manual.
What are the timelines for submitting final documents for a site visit?
Currently, CFAI holds public hearings twice annually to render a vote on granting accredited status. These hearings are in spring at CPSE’s Excellence Conference and in the summer at the IAFC’s Fire Rescue International. Agencies wishing to achieve accredited status in the spring will need to upload all required accreditation documents to the online platform by the 30th of September of the previous year. The deadline for the summer hearings is March 31st of the same year. It is important to stay update to date on CPSE happenings for changes in the hearing’s schedules and site visits.
Can I request a delay, deferral, or an extension from CFAI?
Agencies cannot request a delay or deferral as these are decisions only the peer team (Delay) or the CFAI (Deferral) must make. Agencies may request an extension of their applicant or accredited status. Agencies can learn more about how to request an extension in the CFAI Policy and Procedures Manual located on the accreditation managers’ page of our online platform.
What is an accreditation peer assessor?
Peer assessors are CFAI’s agents and are tasked with verifying and validating an agency’s accreditation documents and conducting onsite assessments. Peer assessors, as a team, make a recommendation to CFAI to either accredited, defer, or deny an agency.
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 Successful completion of the Quality Improvement for the Fire and Emergency Services and Peer Assessor workshop.
- Completion and approval of a Personal Resource Inventory (PRI) form
- Sponsorship by prospective peer assessor’s agency (e.g., Fire Chief, City Manager, Mayor, etc.). Peer assessors must come from an agency that is in status with the CFAI (registered, applicant, candidate, accredited).
- Must be assigned to a peer team within 18 months of 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 lieutenants (Lt.) and above in most fire service organizations. It is recognized that many agencies have civilian equivalents within their organization, however are filling full time employee positions below the rank of Lt. These individuals will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. All other special requests will be reviewed as they present themselves.
How are peer assessors assigned to an agency?
CFAI maintains detailed information on peer assessors’ experience and information on the agencies they work for. When assigning peer assessors to an agency, we strive to match assessors to agencies of similar size to the one they work for and where their experience will be most effective (e.g. transport agencies vs. BLS agencies). Peer assessors should have no direct relationship, past or present, with the agency visited that might be construed as a conflict of interest.
What is an accreditation consortium?
Accredited agencies have found that banding together to form regional consortiums is an 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.
How are CFAI commissioners appointed?
The Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) has 11 members that represent a cross-section of the fire and emergency service, including fire departments, city and county management, labor, standards development organizations, and the U.S. Department of Defense.
CPSE solicits and accepts nominations from appropriate organizations that align with the seat in which the vacancy represents. Commissioners are appointed by the CPSE Board of Directors.
CFAI Commissioners are appointed to serve an initial term of three (3) years and are eligible to be reappointed by the CPSE Board of Directors up to a maximum of three (3) terms of three (3) years each.
Can I appeal a commission decision?
If CFAI votes to defer or deny agency accreditation, the agency in question may appeal the decision. The first step in appealing a CFAI decision is to submit the appeal to firstname.lastname@example.org within 14 days of the commission decision. This flowchart describes the entire appeals process.
Who is on the Appeals Committee?
The three-member Appeals Committee is made up of a prior CFAI commissioner, a prior CPC commissioner, and the chief of an accredited department that holds a designation. The Appeals Committee meets, as needed, to hear appeals of commission decisions.