Category: CPSE Exchange

CFAI Welcomes Izzo as New Commissioner

The CPSE Board of Directors has appointed Senior Risk Control/Fire Protection Engineer Salvatore Izzo to the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) representing the insurance industry.
Mr. Izzo is a Senior Risk Control/Fire Protection Engineer for Verisk Insurance Solutions – Commercial Lines Underwriting (Insurance Services Office, ISO) with over 28 years of experience in the fire protection industry. He is a member of the American Water Works Association’s Fire Protection Committee, a Professional Member of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers and a member of the National Fire Protection Association and National Fire Sprinkler Association. Mr. Izzo is a licensed Professional Engineer in the discipline of Fire Protection Engineering and is an NFPA Certified Fire Protection Specialist. He has over 30 years of experience as a fire fighter and line officer with the Middletown Township Fire Department/EMS, as an instructor at the Middletown Township Fire Academy and with the College Park Volunteer Fire Department.
Mr. Izzo received his Bachelor of Science degree in Fire Protection Engineering from the University of Maryland at College Park.

Message from CPSE CEO, Preet Bassi, regarding COVID-19 impact on CPSE operations (Updated 04.06.21)

The Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE) continues to monitor COVID-19 matters on an ongoing basis relying on verified sources and expert recommendations.
CPSE recognizes the effects the current pandemic are having and that it will continue to impact all of us for longer than was originally anticipated. We are analyzing how best to provide service in light of travel and/or financial restrictions.
Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures. CPSE is taking the following steps to ensure our continuity of operations and the safety of our staff, agencies and officers, contractors, and volunteers:

The Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) has issued new protocols for site visits and hearings through the end of 2021. This message outlines how your agency may be specifically affected by these new processes.
CPSE has resumed in-person workshop deliveries. Visit the CPSE University for a list of upcoming workshops.
In-field technical advisor work has resumed. Some work may be accomplished virtually.
All non-essential staff travel through Q2 2021 has been cancelled.
Headquarters staff is teleworking part of the week. We have the infrastructure in place to telework without significant delays or disruptions. Meetings will be conducted virtually, and the CPSE team continues to be available via email and phone.
A 90-day grace period for officers seeking re-designation remains in place.

CPSE is committed to working with our agencies seeking accreditation/reaccreditation and officers seeking designation/re-designation with maximum flexibility. Please reach out to program staff if you have any questions. We know you are on the frontlines of responding to this global pandemic and we want you to know that CPSE has your back.

CPSE Learning Opportunities

Peer Assessor Training

Quality Improvement Workshops

On Demand Webinars

Resource Documents

At the Center for Public Safety Excellence® (CPSE®) we are excited to bring you the latest learning opportunities to advance your department and career.

Peer Assessor Training Program

May 12 and 19Distance learning webinar – $400Register

Quality Improvement for the Fire and Emergency Services Workshop – 3 Days, In-Person

May 18-20 – Lenexa Fire Department, Lenexa, KS – Click here for registration and additional information

May 18-20 – San Antonio Fire Department, San Antonio, TX – Click here for registration and additional information

June 8-10 – Murrieta Fire & Rescue, Murrieta, CA – Click here for registration and additional information

June 8-10 – Fayetteville Fire Department, Fayetteville, NC – Click here for registration and additional information

June 22-24 – Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, AZ (DoD ONLY) – Click here for registration and additional information

August 3-5 – Castle Rock Fire and Rescue Department, Castle Rock, CO – Click here for registration and additional information

August 16-18 – Boulder City Fire Department, Boulder City, NV – Click here for registration and additional information

August 24-26 – Searcy Fire Department, Searcy, AR – Click here for registration and additional information

September 8-10 – 128th Fire and Emergency Services, Milwaukee, WI – Click here for registration and additional information

On-Demand Webinars and Resource Documents
We encourage you to take the time to access these free resources in the CPSE University:
On-Demand Accreditation Videos

Writing the Four-Part Answer – A webinar explaining development of the four-part answer for the self-assessment manual.
Performance Statements – A webinar explaining development of performance statements.
Creating a Strategic Plan – A webinar explaining the creation of a community-driven strategic plan.
Developing Strategic Plan Goals and Objectives – A webinar explaining how to develop effective goals and objectives for a strategic plan.

Resource Documents

Annual Appraisals – A handout to assist with developing annual appraisals.
Critical Tasking – A handout to aid in conducting critical tasking for all emergency response types.
Engaging Stakeholders – A handout explaining how to engage stakeholders in the CRA/SOC process.
Fire Department Strategic Plans and Community Master Plans: Are They The Same? – A handout comparing and contrasting fire department strategic plans and community master plans.
Performance Statements – A handout outlining how to develop performance statements.
Writing the Four-Part Answer – A handout explaining development of the four-part answer for the self-assessment manual.
Completing the Designation Application – Learn tips on completing the designation application for CFO, CTO, CEMSO, FM, or FO

For questions or assistance contact or 703-691-4620.

2021 Excellence Conference

Like so many other organizations, CPSE pivoted to a completely virtual 2021 Excellence Conference. Held on March second, third and fourth, each day from 11:00 to 3:00 (Eastern), people from around the world could log in online and take part. While we certainly missed seeing everyone and catching up, this year’s conference still had an outstanding lineup of education and learning from a stellar lineup of speakers. It featured the ability to not only participate in real-time as it was unfolding, but attendees will continue to have access to all of the recorded content for 60 days afterwards. This gives everyone the opportunity to see all of the presentations, even if they were being held simultaneously.
And this also provided an unprecedented opportunity for CPSE to reach even more people and for everyone to actively participate. How many? Let’s look at some numbers:

885 attendees – a 32% increase over 2020
182,381 interactions (taps, views and votes cast)
206 average interactions per attendee
10,161 live stream views
52 presenters
38 education sessions

Another important metric is that by doing it virtually, paid participation was 845 people, a 153% increase over 2020.

Opening Session

The conference started with CEO Preet Bassi and Board President Jeff Pomeranz welcoming attendees and reflecting on the prior year.

“2021 marks CPSE’s 25th Anniversary, observed Pomeranz. “I have had the honor of being part of CPSE as both a commissioner and board member for 15 of those 25 years. Over this quarter century, so many of you have contributed your expertise and time to create frameworks that focus on generating high-performing, accountable, and safe fire and emergency service departments and officers.”
The 2020 Annual report covers a host of material in this transformative year, and you can read it (and all of our annual reports) on our website.
Shortly after the pandemic struck, CPSE initiated Operation Pivot to ensure that we were continuing to deliver services as seamlessly and effectively as possible. A key part of this was education, and we began an aggressive effort to turn our existing in-person events into virtual offerings. We developed and added dozens of new accreditation and credentialing videos and handouts to the CPSE University Resource Library. Over 5,000 individuals have accessed this free, on-demand content and we will continue to add new videos and handouts in 2021, so please make sure to check out the Resource Library at CPSE University.
The strategic plan CPSE has operated under for the last few years expires in 2021. Last December, the CPSE Board along with the chairs and vice chairs of both commissions and senior staff worked with an external facilitator to develop a new strategic plan. The plan addresses CPSE’s growth goals not only in the number of agencies and officers we serve but also growth in who we are as an organization. To achieve this growth, we have identified six areas of focus:

Greater and Broader Engagement and Collaboration
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Meaningful Brand Awareness
Robust Digital Strategy
Launching a Center of Innovation
Development of a Multi-Step Path to Accreditation.

You’ll hear more about this new plan throughout the coming year.

Education Sessions

The key component of the Excellence Conference is education, education and more education. Even though we were virtual, there was no shortage of sessions to pick from, and the benefit of being virtual is that the attendees can review all of the sessions online at their leisure! There were four tracks that the attendees could participate in:

A New Way Of… were presentations that took a new look at current issues, providing a fresh perspective on solving problems and implementing change within organizations.
Case Studies were examples of how people had solved some problems, ranging from small to wicked
21st Century Fire and Emergency Services were a series of presentations discussing the eight sections of the white paper that CPSE and ICMA collaborated on producing that looks at the future of the fire and emergency services.
Accreditation Bootcamp is the incredibly popular series on how to go through the accreditation process and helpful tips along the way.


Our Keynote speaker was Gordon Graham, Board Member and Founder of Lexipol, who spoke energetically on the topic of “Making Excellence the Norm and not the Deviation.” One of the most talked about moments (on social media) was when he went over the seven rules of Admiral Rickover –

Practice Continuous Improvement
Hire Smart People
Establish Quality Supervision
Respect the Dangers You Face
Train, Train, Train
Audit, Control, and Respect
Learn From Past Mistakes

CFAI and CPC Chair Welcome

Wednesday’s session was opened by CPC Chair Derek Bergsten (CFO, CEMSO, CTO). In his remarks, Chief Bergsten commended the work done by the commissioners for their service and dedication in advancing the continuous improvement model for professional credentialing. Chief Bergsten gave a special thank you to Commissioners Tim Bradley, CFO, and Craig Hannan for completing nine years of serving on the CPC. In addition, the work of the Commission would not have been possible without all of the time put in by the volunteers. Last year, 284 peer reviewers reviewed 902 applications volunteered 2,372 hours and through this we reached a new milestone by surpassing 2,500 designees for the first time in our history.

Thursday was kicked off by CFAI Chair Steve Dongworth (CFO) welcoming everyone and thanking the CFAI Commissioners for their work over the past year pivoting from on-site accreditation hearings to full virtual accreditation hearings. CFAI’s success was only made possible by a dedicated cadre of volunteers, and in 2020 there were 170 peer assessors working on 42 teams who volunteered 11,886 hours. Based on their efforts, the percentage of the Canadian population protected by a CFAI accredited department increased to 18% and the United States population protected to 12%. In the U.S., that means that an additional 3 million people are now protected by a fire department focused on continuous improvement.

Closing Session

On Thursday, Preet wrapped it all up and sent everyone on their way. Although it was different this year, we still had a great turnout, people were actively involved, whether it was posting on Twitter and in the Forum or taking part in the interactive sessions. This year is a major milestone for CPSE, our 25th anniversary, and we have accomplished so much in a quarter century because of everyone’s active involvement and support over the years. And this was also possible because of the incredible number of hours dedicated by the CPSE staff team in pulling together our first virtual conference – thank you!
Be sure to check out the conference highlights reel!

The Platform

To help keep attendees engaged throughout the three days, the conference website featured a photo gallery where people could post photos of themselves or patches of their departments. This was a popular and fun way to engage with attendees. Attendees also had fun playing the engagement game where points were awarded based on activity within the platform. During the conference we saw lots of activity posting to the site’s Forum and Social Feed. During the closing session Amazon gift cards were given to attendees with the top five engagement scores.
What did people have to say about Excellence 2021 in the online Forum?
“Looking forward to re-watching some of these presentations, especially the keynote from Gordon Graham. That was one of the best pieces I’ve seen.”
“Day 3 – so many great topics – tough to choose! Amazing we will be able to watch the sessions we are unable to attend later!
“Our entire accreditation core team has been in attendance this week. I am excited to see what everyone picks up and for us all to start speaking the same language!!”
“Pivot! Pivot! Pivot!!!! Well done to Preet and the team for the work you have done to go digital. You guys have succeeded in making this ‘virtual’ conference an excellent one.”
“Good to be back amongst peers, even if it is only virtually!”

CPSE Awards

As always, a high point of the conference is recognizing those people and agencies that have made significant contributions to CPSE and to their communities.
Ray Picard Award
The winner of the Ray Picard Award for 2021 was Assistant Chief Christian E. Jacobs, CEMSO from the Grissom ARB Fire Department, IN. This award recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions and provided exceptional leadership to the Commission on Fire Accreditation International and the accreditation of fire service organizations.
Ronny Jack Coleman Leadership Legacy Award
CPSE named Fire Chief Norris W. Croom, III, CEMSO, CFO, Castle Rock Fire Department, CO, the 2021 recipient of the Ronny Jack Coleman Leadership Legacy Award. This award recognizes an individual committed to elevating the fire and emergency service profession through mentoring, teaching, advocating, and sharing outstanding contributions.
Randy R. Bruegman Agency Innovation Award
Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services in Georgia was selected as the recipient of the 2021 Randy R. Bruegman Agency Innovation Award for their High School Pathway Program. The award is presented annually to a CPSE accredited agency that has worked collaboratively within their agency and community to innovate a practice leading to improved outcomes that serve as a model for the greater fire and emergency service.
Cliff Jones Ambassador Award
In 2021, CPSE re-named the Ambassador Award in honor of Chief Cliff Jones, a former board member and long-time supporter of CPSE. the first recipient of the Cliff Jones Ambassador Award was Ricky N. Brockman, CFO, retired, Navy Fire and Emergency Services, Washington, DC. This award recognizes an individual who goes above and beyond in their support of accreditation, credentialing, and CPSE as a whole.
Michael Worthington Scholarship
The Michael Worthington Scholarship was created in honor of CPSE’s long-time former Board Member who passed away in 2015. Annually the CPSE awards up to five scholarships to officers who, like Mike, exemplify continuous improvement and encourage others to constantly grow and improve in their profession. The 2021 scholarship recipients were:

Lieutenant Michael Cornista, Naval Air Station Fallon Federal Fire Department, Fallon, Nevada
Captain Joseph T. DeRousie, Jr., Richland Fire and Emergency Services, Richland, Washington
Battalion Chief John F. Hoskins, Miles City Fire Rescue, Miles City, Montana
Assistant Chief Nicholas J. Mitchell, 119th Wing Fire Department, North Dakota Air National Guard in Fargo, North Dakota
Lieutenant Heidi A. Simon, South Metro Fire Rescue, Centennial, Colorado


This year’s Excellence Conference, and especially the robust functions of this virtual platform, would not have been possible without the generous support of our sponsors.
Thank you to…





NFFF Fundraiser

For those that have attended previous Excellence Conferences, you will remember the fundraiser we hold for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. CPSE strongly supports the great work that the NFFF does for the fallen and their families, and as part of our 25th Anniversary, we invite you all to help us meet an ambitious goal of donating $25,000 to the NFFF this year. If we get 1,000 individuals from the CPSE community to donate just $25 each, we will meet our goal. You can donate online to this fundraiser by clicking here, and I hope you’ll join us in celebrating our 25th Anniversary by giving back to a worthy organization.

2022 Excellence Conference

And now it is time to start looking forward to 2022. We’ll be back at the Caribe Royale in Orlando, Florida from March 22 to 25, so be sure to put it on your calendars and we’ll see you next year!

How a 2-year Strategic Plan can be just as bold as a 5-year plan

Preet Bassi, CAECPSE Chief Executive Officer

by Preet Bassi, CAECPSE Chief Executive Officer
What would you imagine are some of the required elements for an effective strategic plan?    – Lots of in-person community feedback sessions? Sounds about right    – A multi-day internal stakeholder development session? Absolutely    – Lots of easel pads/post-its/white boards? Definitely
What if COVID-19 restricts all of the above? What could possibly replace them? That was the challenge (and opportunity) that the leadership of the Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE) found ourselves in last year.
Core Competency 3A.1 of the Commission on Fire Accreditation 10th Edition Model asks departments seeking accreditation to have “a current and published strategic plan that has been submitted to the authority having jurisdiction.” At CPSE, we believe in applying the model to ourselves. So in 2015, we developed a strategic plan that would cover the period 2016 – 2021, presented it to the CPSE Board for approval, and posted it to our website. Each year, we use our Annual Reports to showcase our achievement of the goals set out in that strategic plan. We followed Category 3 – Goals and Objectives pretty much to the letter in the development and implementation of our previous plan.
With our existing plan set to expire, in early 2020, we formed a CPSE Board Strategic Planning Subcommittee, developed an RFP, and began soliciting proposals from external facilitators. By the end of Quarter 2-2020, we realized that our original plan of developing a robust 5-year plan based on extensive stakeholder input was not going to be possible. Rather than delaying our strategic planning efforts, we decided to shift to a nimbler 2-year plan that would get us past COVID but still allow us to take needed action on critical areas.
New surveys and web listening sessions with the CPSE community were substituted with repurposing prior feedback, such as the late 2018 Stakeholder Report developed as part of the CFAI 10th edition rollout and the 21st Century Fire and Emergency Services White Paper. A multi-day in-person session became a 6-hour Zoom meeting. Zoom breakouts and a shared Google Sheet replaced small group discussions around an easel. With the help of our expert facilitator, we found that the above elements were just as helpful in developing an effective strategic plan.
CPSE Leadership Strategic Plan Retreat
The CPSE Board of Directors, Chairs and Vice Chairs of both CFAI and CPC, and the CPSE senior staff met on December 10th, 2020. Prior to the meeting, all participants responded to a survey providing feedback on the next two years, specifically addressing:    – Where CPSE was well positioned to thrive?    – What should be the key places of focus and resource investment?    – What obstacles might CPSE face?
A review of the current Mission statement and development of new Vision statement was the first order of business. The group agreed that the current Mission statement continued to embody the organization. So, we dug into developing a new Vision statement and the results can be seen in the graphic below. The jigsaw imagery reflects how we, at CPSE, see our Vision, Mission, and Values fitting together and how one element is not complete without the others.
This session continued with the group identifying themes from the survey. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic emerged as a moment to be aware of, but not focused on. Being the overachievers that most of the strategic planning session attendees are, we shifted our gaze beyond the 2-year timeframe. We employed foresight to identify what areas of focus would lead to future growth. The group perceived growth in two ways: growth in agencies and officers we work with but also growth in who we are as an organization.
Greater and Broader Engagement and Collaboration, Meaningful Brand Awareness, a Multi-Step Path to Accreditation, and a Robust Digital Strategy will help us grow the number of agencies and officers we work while “collaboratively improving health and wellness outcomes in all communities.” Committing to greater Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and launching a Center of Innovation will be key to our own growth as an organization and an evolution of how we “lead the fire and emergency service to excellence.”

To effectively address the areas of focus, embody our mission, and achieve our vision, a set of four operational tenets were identified. These four tenets were collectively at play during 2020 as CPSE successfully weathered COVID-19 impacts to our operations. A continued focus on these tenets will be necessary in the years to come.

Our strategic planning work did not end on December 10th. Throughout Quarter 1-2021, we are taking each area of focus and bringing it to life. For each of the six areas, we are developing a success narrative and strategies and identifying resources needed and challenges to overcome. A CPSE Board Member is assigned to each area of focus as a champion and will work with CPSE staff, consultants, and members of the CPSE community to make the success narrative a reality. During Quarter 2-2021, CPSE will be scanning (via surveys, conversations, and/or research) before shifting to planning in Quarter 3-2021. Then come the implementation and evaluation phases. We look forward to sharing the results of the first year of the 2021-2023 Strategic Plan during the 2021 Annual Report and at the 2022 Excellence Conference.
While we are developing our new strategic plan in a very different way than the prior plan, we are equally excited for its implementation and hopeful that it will help us achieve our goals. In turn, by CPSE continuing to improve, we believe that we can provide our agencies and officers the tools they need to continue to improve both as organizations and as professionals.

Preet Bassi has been CPSE’s chief executive officer since 2014 and oversees work across all program areas with a focus on the organization’s strategic direction as set by the Board of Directors. Prior to CPSE, she was the Director of Finance and Administration for the International Accreditation Service and managed their Fire and Life Safety and Building Department Accreditation Programs. She has experience at both the local and state government levels, having worked for the City of Anaheim, California, and the California State Assembly.
Ms. Bassi holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California, and a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Political Science from the University of California Davis. She is credentialed as a Certified Association Executive through the American Society of Association Executives. She was part of the inaugural cohort for the University of Pennsylvania’s Executive Program in Social Innovation Design and has completed Cornell’s Diversity and Inclusion eCertificate Program.