CPSE’s Mission Statement: To lead the fire and emergency service to excellence through the continuous quality improvement process of accreditation, credentialing, and education.

That last word, education, is such a vital part of CPSE’s DNA, from the classes we hold to our annual Excellence Conference. Sharing knowledge, information and expertise built from experience is a cornerstone of CPSE. However, could we be doing it better?

Recognizing the value of education, in 2016 the CPSE Board of Directors included a focus in its five-year Strategic Plan. We wanted to take a closer look at how we were currently doing training and education, but with an eye towards what are the needs of those going through accreditation and/or credentialing and are we meeting their needs. We asked dozens of people, including peer assessors, peer reviewers, commissioners, attendees at consortiums meetings, and others as to what gaps exist and how we could help to close these gaps.

We formed the University Advisory Council whose goal was to provide guidance on emerging topics and trends. In addition, we met with education specialists and over the next two years, developed an online Learning Management System (LMS) and launched CPSE University in 2019.

What type of content is available? 

There is a wide range of content available through CPSE University, where you can register for live workshops and webinars; access on-demand content; search the online Resource Library that includes accreditation handouts, videos, credentialing information and much more. The accreditation handouts and videos range in length and level of detail and work to address some of the top priority gaps that were identified in the education strategic plan. Just this past month, CPSE added access to the presentations on the 21stCentury Fire and Emergency Services White Paper that were presented at the 2021 CPSE Excellence Conference and supporting handouts .

One of the more significant changes that has occurred is the development of a new curriculum for the 10th Edition of the CFAI accreditation model, which goes into effect March 2022. The Quality Improvement for the Fire and Emergency Services Workshop is a 3-day, in person workshop and replaces the previous Quality Improvement Through Accreditation. The new curriculum has undergone a significant rewrite, not only to meet the new requirements of the 10th Edition, but to better serve agencies as they work through the accreditation process.

Previous versions of this workshop were developed by a third-party consultant, but this version was through CPSE in partnership with the International Fire Service Training Association (IFSTA). “This time, it involved significant input from the instructors and students,” said Steve Olson, CFO, CFAI coordinator and retired fire chief. “It was a different, more robust and inclusive process and the result is better tailored to meet the needs of our students. It is much better than before.”

The new version of the class is user-friendly and more useful to the agency. We took a step back and asked the agencies what they needed, and that was used to revise the curriculum.

And while most of the workshops are in-person (click here for a schedule), some are being offered virtually. “We are doing one for the first time for our friends north of the border in Canada,” said Olson. “And when we do any class, whether it is in-person or virtual, we point the students to the resources that are available for them in CPSE University. These include handouts, videos, and articles, so it is strongly linked to the curriculum.”

How are people using CPSE University?

The content in the University is smaller, more granular, “bite size” in nature. The goal is to provide a quick, but comprehensive, resource that people who are either going through credentialing or taking their department through accreditation can quickly find information they may need on their journey.

Who can benefit from CPSE University?

While it may sound simple to say, it really is true – everyone can benefit from CPSE U. When it comes to accreditation, it isn’t just the people within the department that may need access to this information, but those outside as well, such as a city’s human resources or IT departments. For someone that may not be familiar with the Accreditation process, they can watch a 20-minute introductory video and get the information they need for their area of expertise.

Credentialing is something that those at all ranks can find valuable, whether it is a fire fighter aspiring to become a credentialed officer or a chief that is renewing his or her CFO designation. CPSE U provides “how-to” information such as Navigating the Application and Documenting Technical Competencies, Cliff Note-type handouts, and narrated PowerPoint presentations.

Anyone in the fire service that is interested in learning more about continuous improvement, community risk assessment, strategic planning as well as any company or chief officer seeking to create their professional development roadmap will find value in the information available in the University

And CPSE University is not limited to just departments going through accreditation or officers interested in credentialing, it is open to anyone. Any fire and emergency services department that is looking to develop a strategic plan or conduct a risk assessment will find resources that will help them. And since all fire and emergency services departments are being asked to engage more broadly with their stakeholders and their mission is going far beyond the traditional ones of fire suppression, there is something available for everyone.

The content is valuable for people that are both starting their journey in accreditation and credentialing or may need a refresher as they go for re-accreditation or pursuing a new designation.  CPSE wants to reach all departments, any size, any type, any location with information that will help them move forward in new and different ways based on a proven model.

Who can access CPSE University?

CPSE University is available 24/7, and for much of the content you don’t need to log in to gain access. If you do choose to create an account, which is free, it will help you create a Dashboard around what you want to learn and focus on. There are some courses that do have a fee associated with them, but much of the material, including the Resource Library, is free.

CPSE University in a Post-Pandemic World

CPSE had been researching and building CPSE University well ahead of the pandemic. When COVID-19 started spreading across the globe, while there was great content on CPSE University, we identified the need for more. While CPSE was restricted from in-field work it provided two great opportunities to expand the University.

The first was that many of the people in the fire and emergency services were not able to participate in in-person training and education, and CPSE was able to help fill that need by creating virtual deliveries.

The other opportunity was that a number of the CPSE instructors had more availability because they were not on the road teaching classes. We used this time to have them develop on demand content including videos, narrated PowerPoint presentations, handouts and more. This was an incredible opportunity to capture the depth of knowledge that this cadre of highly experienced instructors had. CPSE had made the content available to everyone at no cost.

As we all emerge from a COVID world, the question that everyone has on their mind is “what now?”

There will always be a need for in-person training and education, but one of the major lessons we all have learned since March 2020 is that there is also a role for both online education and hybrid deliveries. CPSE U is an additional avenue for information, provided at a time and in a place that best meets the needs of the student.

While we would welcome people using the information to pursue accreditation or credentialling, this is not the reason CPSE University was created. If more departments understood the value of planning strategically, if more departments determined the risks and priorities in their communities, the sky is the limit in terms of what they can accomplish.

Helping all departments and officers achieve excellence is what CPSE is about. CPSE University is a vital part of making that a reality.

CPSE University Materials

Some of the material available at CPSE University includes (and there is much more):

Accreditation Handouts

  • Annual Appraisals
  • Critical Tasking
  • Engaging Stakeholders
  • Performance Statements
  • Writing the Four-Part Answer

Accreditation Videos

  • Introduction to Accreditation
  • New Registered Agency Orientation
  • Creating a Strategic Plan
  • Developing Strategic Plan Goals and Objectives

Credentialing Handouts

  • Completing the Chief Fire Office Application
  • Completing the Fire Officer Applications
  • Completing the Chief EMS Officer Application
  • Completing the Chief Training Officer Application
  • Completing the Fire Marshal Application

Credentialing Videos

  • Introduction to Credentialing
  • Navigating the Credentialing Application Process
  • Guide to Designee Development Goals and Measurements

You can learn more about CPSE University at https://university.cpse.org/ where you can access all the free resources, videos, FAQs and more. You can register for in-person and web-based courses and create a personalized Dashboard that will help guide your journey.