The last couple of years have posed challenges for the fire service. Despite all that we have faced, the Commission on Professional Credentialing® (CPC®) continues to make strides in improving the credentialing model for fire and emergency service personnel. Accepting the CPC Chair role in June of this year, and following on the work of immediate past Chair Chief Derek Bergsten, has truly been an honor and collaborating with great Commissioners makes things even easier. Going forward, I will focus on proficiency, equity, and strategies for developing career enhancement and development.  There are currently 2,999 designated officers across five designations, and the Commission continues to analyze models, procedures, and new initiatives to improve the fire service credentialing process.

The holistic approach of the CPC model focuses on seven components that cover the span of an officer’s experience that include:

  • Education
  • Experience
  • Professional development
  • Professional contribution/recognitions
  • Professional memberships/affiliations
  • Community involvement, and
  • Technical competencies

Great things are happening in CPC including a significant change in Commissioners.

In August 2022, the CPC elected a new Vice Chair, Dr. Alexander Henderson, who is an associate professor in the Department of Public and Nonprofit Administration at Marist College in New York. Alex is representing academia and holds the CTO designation.

Chief Chris Christopoulos took over as the Chair of the Ethics Committee. Chris is the fire chief and emergency management director of the Lebanon Fire Department, New Hampshire.

CPC also welcomed two new commissioners this year. In June, Chief Thomas Maloney joined the Commission as a Fire Marshal designee representing Fire Prevention. Tom serves as Deputy Fire Chief/Fire Marshal for the Marysville Fire District, a Regional Fire Authority in Washington State, a position which he has held since October 2008. He began his fire service career as a volunteer in upstate New York in 1984 and has served as a fire chief in both New York and Montana.

In July, Chief Hezedean Smith joined the Commission as a Chief Fire Officer designee who is the agency head of a career emergency services department. Hezedean is the fire chief of the Charlottesville Fire Department in Virginia, an accredited agency through the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI). He has over three decades of experience in the emergency services profession, having started his career in 1998. He holds a Doctor of Management degree from the University of Phoenix.


Attaining a designation is an integral part of an individual’s professional development that recognizes excellence in their career and strategies for continuous improvement. With that in mind, the Commission on Professional Credentialing is working to enhance outreach to designees with a personal congratulations for obtaining their well-deserved designation. In addition, we have developed a standardized packet of information for designees that includes a press release template, social media posts and more that designees can use to let their community know when they have achieved designation or been redesignated.

Public Information Officer Project

In January 2022, CPC began the process of formalizing the professional designation for Public Information Officers (PIO). The project began with a partnership with the National Information Officers Association (NIOA), and the goal of this partnership was to create a designation that highlighted the important profession of the PIO. The project is currently in the beta testing phase. Watch for more information coming soon about this new designation!

Renewal Alignment

In April, the CPC voted to allow designees with multiple designations to align renewals and make one payment. Effective January 1, 2023, any designee holding multiple designations may choose to align the renewal dates of their multiple designations. Look for further details later this year.


CPC has led the way to integrate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the designation process, and that included adding DEI as one of the technical competencies in all of its designation applications. This will ensure CPC preserves equity in the credentialing process while creating new pathways for access. CPC will continue to create inclusive environments, model transparency, stand against bias and discrimination, while at the same time growing a culture of respect, belonging, and psychological safety.

The credentialing process is an extremely rewarding experience that reveals your strengths, accomplishments, knowledge, and the diversity of your professional portfolio. If you have not begun the process, start today! If you are credentialed, congratulations and keep up the good work.

Please be sure to visit the CPC Credentialing page for more information.

Toni Washington is the chief of the City of Decatur, Georgia, Fire Department, which she has been with for almost 11 years. She has over 27 years in the fire service including thirteen years with the City of East Point Fire Department as a Fire Administrator, Lieutenant, and Deputy Chief and three years with the State of Georgia Fire Marshal.

Chief Washington holds a Masters in Managerial Leadership from National-Louis University and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Savannah State University. She is a Georgia Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) and a current member of the Executive Board for Women in Fire.

Chief Washington earned her Chief Fire Officer designation in 2013.