The Reimagined 6th Edition Community Risk Assessment: Standards of Cover

In the November 2015 newsletter, we highlighted the evolution of the new edition of the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) accreditation model. The development of the new model and the corresponding publications are all part of the Reimagining Project that kicked off in 2014. This month marks another major milestone in the Reimagining Project: the release of the 6th Edition of the Community Risk Assessment Standards of Cover Manual.

The 6th Edition of the CPSE Community Risk Assessment & Standards of Cover Manual serves as a technical guide for fire and emergency service agencies in preparing, constructing, and developing two of the major CFAI accreditation building blocks: 1) the community risk assessment (CRA) and 2) the standards of cover (SOC).

The Fire and Emergency Service Self-Assessment Manual (FESSAM), 9th Edition, provides a brief overview for developing a CRA, the importance of the SOC, and establishment of agency baseline and benchmark statements. The 6th edition of the CRA-SOC extrapolates on those concepts following Category II of CFAI’s 9th edition accreditation model.

Don’t miss your opportunity to learn about more about Category II of the new accreditation model from the convenience of your desk. CPSE presents its final webinar on the Reimagined Community Risk Assessment – SOC 6th edition on May 3, 2016. Sign up for the 90-minute webinar to understand the significant changes between the 5th edition Standards of Cover and the 6th edition Community Risk Assessment: Standards of Cover. All attendees will receive a complimentary copy of the 6th edition of the CRA-SOC.

Rick Fagan, who led the re-imagining of the 6th edition CRA-SOC, is the presenter. The cost of the webinar is $79. Click here to register.

CPSE Accepting Nominations for Fire Chief of the Year

The Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE) is currently accepting nominations for the CPSE Nomination for the IAFC/Pierce Manufacturing Fire Chief of the Year Award.

The CPSE, along with other select organizations and associations, are invited to submit nominations for the IAFC Fire Chief of the Year Awards. CPSE can submit one nomination in both the Career and Volunteer Chief category. The following information is taken from the IAFC webpage to describe the award criteria:

Two awards will be presented in 2016; one for a career fire chief and one for a volunteer fire chief:

  • A volunteer fire chief is defined as one who earns his or her principal livelihood by some means other than serving as a fire chief, even if the position of chief carries some compensation.
  • A career fire chief is defined as one who earns his or her principal livelihood as a fire chief.
  • In each category, the status of the fire department as a whole — paid, volunteer or combination — is not considered.
  • Individuals who are eligible for nomination and selection as Fire Chief of the Year are limited to active chiefs of departments. Previous Fire Chief of the Year winners are not eligible.
  • Selection criteria will emphasize leadership, innovation, professional development, integrity, service to the public, and contributions to the fire service as a whole.
  • All of a nominee’s fire service activities and accomplishments will be considered, but, because this is the Fire Chief of the Year award, special emphasis will be placed on the period from 2013 through 2015. A nominee’s command role at a major emergency incident, while relevant, will not be enough to place that individual into contention for the award.

CPSE will accept nominations from within our communities of credentialed Chief Fire Officers and accredited fire departments.

Nomination packages must be received no later than May 20, 2016. An internal selection process will determine the individual who will receive CPSE’s nomination as Fire Chief of the Year.

Download the nomination form from the CPSE website.

CFAI Accreditation Model Performance Indicator 8A-5

As leaders in our organizations, we are tasked with ensuring the improvement of performance for our departments. While this is very important, we often overlook the vital task of making sure that all of the personnel are developed as our department’s future leaders. It is important to ensure that our personnel are trained and developed to succeed, in order to best prepare them, and the department for the future.

One of the important updates in the 9th edition of the CFAI accreditation model is Performance Indicator 8A-5, which states: “A command and staff development program is in place that encourages pursuit of professional credentialing”. The Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE) Commission on Professional Credentialing (CPC) has a variety of designations that will ensure that the individuals have the proper education, training, and experiences to validate their professional competence in fire and emergency services. The best designation to consider for all fire and EMS Officers is the Fire Officer Designation. This designation, according to the CPSE website, enhances the stature and capabilities of not only the individual who achieves the designation, but their organizations and communities as well. Some specific benefits are a demonstration that the individual has developed a strategy for continued career improvement and development, developed a commitment to continuing education, training, and skill proficiency, and it also serves to improve the promotional and hiring process by enabling authorities to quickly identify individuals with superior skills, knowledge, and abilities.

I would like to task every fire chief of an accredited organization to support at least two of their members in the pursuit of designation for each category of professional credentialing.

More information on these designations can be found at

We’re Looking for Host Agencies for 2017

CPSE offers a variety of workshops to help departments and their personnel achieve peak performance. Offered in both on-site and web-based formats, these workshops are designed to provide fire and emergency service professionals with the tools for continuous improvement. Our 2016 schedule for dates and locations of classes is complete; details are on the CPSE website. CPSE is now seeking agencies to host delivery of our workshops in 2017. We currently offer four on-site, instructor-led workshops:

  • Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
  • Data Analysis and Presentation Using Excel
  • Exceeding Customer Expectations
  • Nurturing Fire Service Leaders Through Mentoring

The “Quality Improvement…” and “Data Analysis…” classes are each three days, scheduled over a Monday-Wednesday, or Wednesday-Friday time frame. The “Exceeding Customer Expectations” and “Mentoring” classes are each one, full day.

By hosting, you eliminate travel costs for your personnel to attend any of these classes. You can also save money on registrations: workshops that exceed 20 paid registrations earn the host agency two complimentary registrations for the class.

When selecting host sites for workshops, CPSE considers many factors:

  • Number of Accredited, Applicant, and Registered agencies in the region
  • Access: proximity to major cities, airports, and interstate freeways
  • Size and accessibility of training facilities with audio-visual capabilities
  • Willingness of agency to help with promotion in the state, province, or region

The typical audience for an on-site workshop ranges from 20-30 students. Thus, a training venue should be able to comfortably seat at least 30-35 students with laptops. There is no cost to host a class, however, most host agencies generally provide a continental breakfast each morning of the class and lunch each day from a local supplier. If your agency is interested in hosting a class in 2017, contact Tom Mawson, CPSE Director of Business Development, at, or call: 703-691-4620, X205.

Designees in the News

Mayor Kenney recently appointed Adam Thiel, CFO, as the new Fire Commissioner of Philadelphia. Since 2014, Thiel has served as Virginia’s Deputy Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security. Thiel has served in fire and emergency service organizations in Maryland, North Carolina, Arizona, and Virginia. He holds a Master’s in Public Administration and Bachelor degrees in Fire Science and History. Adam has been a Chief Fire Officer Designee since 2007.

G. James Robinson, III, CFO was promoted to Deputy Chief of the Emergency Services Branch for Greensboro Fire Department, NC. Robinson began his career in Greensboro in 1995. He has served as fire equipment operator, battalion chief, division chief, training officer, emergency management coordinator, and special operations chief.

Robinson holds a Master’s in Emergency Management from Jacksonville State University.

CPSE Exhibits at FDIC

This week, members of the CPSE staff are exhibiting at FDIC International in Indianapolis, IN. An annual event for CPSE, this conference is a great opportunity to visit with credentialed officers, members of accredited agencies, and representatives of our Partners in Excellence. Stop by booth 10092 to say hello.

CPSE’s new exhibit on display this week at FDIC in Indianapolis, IN.

Accreditation: What’s the Value?

In February’s newsletter we talked about the costs for agencies seeking accredited status. In this article we will explore the value or seeking accredited status. According to Merrian-Webster value is defined as, “a fair return or equivalent in goods, services, or money for something exchanged”. So you have invested time and money to become accredited. Was it worth the investment? What did you learn about yourself that you did not know?

To help with this article I reached out to a few agencies that were recently accredited and posed the same four questions to each of them.

1. Since becoming accredited, what has changed for your organization?
“The biggest change for our organization is that our identity and purpose has been well defined. Prior to completing the accreditation process, we always thought that the services we were providing in our city were good, however, there was never a “measurable outcome” to demonstrate this. We now have a well-defined standard of cover as well as a strategic plan that help us in planning both our immediate, as well as long-range goals” (John Podgorski, Fire Chief, Portage FD, MI).

“Since becoming accredited, our fire department has an enhanced sense of value, achievement and presence as a leader in the fire service. Although the department was confident of their level of professionalism, achievement of this best practice proves it” (Bertral Washington, Fire Chief, Pasadena FD, CA)

“The department staffing was increased to meet our DOD aggregate response time and staffing requirements. Our written policies and procedures are now reviewed with an eye towards quality improvement. Our members assess their areas of responsibility looking for any weakness that can be improved upon. We are now able to better justify our missions, staffing, and equipment” (Chief Henry Hoffman, Fire Chief, DLA Installation Support at Susquehanna, PA).

“The City’s leadership and citizens have been very supportive regarding the accreditation process and they are extremely pleased that we were successful. Based on a recent Fire Department Community Survey out of 236 responses, 101 thought having an accredited fire department was extremely important, 95 very important, 31 important, 6 not very important and 3 unimportant. We also received a commendation from our State Senators and Representatives” (Rob Ugaste, Fire Chief, Wauwatosa FD, WI).

“City leadership is proud of the organization and worked with the local media to release several stories on the achievement. There have been numerous inquiries from local neighborhood and business associations asking us to come discuss the accomplishment. We have also met face to face with each station and shift to answer any questions and discuss next steps” (Margaret Felix, Interim Fire Chief, Grand Rapids FD, MI).

“Since becoming accredited, this process has forced us to become a better organization, it’s forced us to truly become data-driven, it’s forced us to do things in a way that we can now document how we’re doing it and why we do it. We have truly become a better, improved organization, because of it” (Gary L. Peck, Fire Chief, 115th FW Fire Emergency Services, Truax Field, WI).


2. What has been the tangible and perceived value to your agency?
“The process has provided us the “value” of our core service delivery so that each member of our organization now has a clear understanding of what our mission is, the steps to provide our services in relation to our mission and how to better measure and evaluate both the qualitative as well as quantitative aspects of the performance outcomes as it relates to our service delivery to our stakeholders. Although the perception of our service delivery by our citizens, political body, peers and other agencies that we work and engage with has been extremely high, we now have the statistical and analytical data to demonstrate both our strengths and weaknesses, so that we can continually monitor and improve on both. That is the tangible value that the accreditation process has provided us” (John Podgorski, Fire Chief, Portage FD, MI).

“Enhanced standards and methodologies for setting goals and measuring our performance. We have a solid set of goals from our strategic and specific recommendations, refined performance measures, and routine reviews to ensure we stay on track for continuous improvement” (Bertral Washington, Fire Chief, Pasadena FD, CA)

“Our department is more efficient and effective. All of our members have access to the Strategic Plan, Risk Assessment/Standards of Cover, and Self-Assessment Manual which provide guidance for the department operations. The better our members understand the accreditation process, the better the organization becomes” (Chief Henry Hoffman, Fire Chief, DLA Installation Support at Susquehanna, PA).

“The accreditation process became part of a concerted effort to ensure we substantiated the trust of the community. By demonstrating transparency in everything we do in addition to becoming data driven which enables us to support our positions logically rather than emotionally it has increased the confidence of the Mayor and Elders in our organization” (Rob Ugaste, Fire Chief, Wauwatosa FD, WI).

“Tangible value is we have plans in place and data driven analysis to make decisions, along with a formally adopted commitment to continuous improvement. Perceived value is the level of professionalism within the fire service and our local community has been raised. It can’t be overstated by compiling and organizing the documents needed for Accreditation we know now what was only a gut feeling before. With changes in personnel at every level the documents of how and why we do things is very tangible” (Margaret Felix, Interim Fire Chief, Grand Rapids FD, MI).

“The value is that it’s a means to prove our department is doing a good job in all areas, like emergency response time, business practices and training records, among many other things. Everything we have done and do, is now validated” (Gary L. Peck, Fire Chief, 115th FW Fire Emergency Services, Truax Field, WI).

3. What has been the tangible and perceived value to your community?
“The most tangible value to our community has been the decrease in response time of getting our medically trained personnel to the aid of our patients. When we respond to Priority 1 type calls whether it be cardiac related, extreme trauma or other responses, we are getting assistance to these patients on an average of 1 minute sooner than we previously did prior to conducting the self-assessment. Our new call processing of times is being evaluated by our County Medical Control Authority, Dispatch Center, both private ambulance providers and the new Central Dispatch Director for the future consolidated dispatch in our county. The perceived value is that our organization through the accreditation process, has identified many areas where performance measures have been identified and may result in positive outcomes of service delivery throughout our region” (John Podgorski, Fire Chief, Portage FD, MI).

“Since becoming accredited, the community has received improvement in the ISO PPC of Class 1 from Class 3. In addition, the community now receives information (data and graphs) about the department’s performance” (Bertral Washington, Fire Chief, Pasadena FD, CA).

“We continue to look for ways to educate our community on the accreditation model. We also show them the value of having a fire department that meets and exceeds the national best practices. Our residents have shown that they value the services that we provide to the base. We receive positive feedback at town hall meetings and public education events” (Chief Henry Hoffman, Fire Chief, DLA Installation Support at Susquehanna, PA).

“We believe we are now ready to go for an ISO 1 rating (Currently ISO 2), the community’s perspective of the fire department is that it is a more professional organization thanks to achieving accredited status, and the administrator and elders have been very good about supporting our budget this year where there had been a budget deficit each of the previous 4 years” (Rob Ugaste, Fire Chief, Wauwatosa FD, WI).

“I can use the accreditation process to show the community that we are constantly looking to improve and we are good stewards of their resources” (Marion Blackwell, Fire Chief, Spartanburg FD, SC).

“Tangible is over the past 10 years we have streamlined numerous processes, speeding up our response to emergencies and expanding fire prevention and training programs to provide better service to our customers. Perceived is now our community has a verified and validated agency that is striving for excellence” (Margaret Felix, Interim Fire Chief, Grand Rapids FD, MI).

“The value to our community is the ongoing community risk and safety assessment and our community-specific Standards of Cover, it proves to our customers that we have truly established a method for achieving continuous organizational improvement, a true dedication to excellence” (Gary L. Peck, Fire Chief, 115th FW Fire Emergency Services, Truax Field, WI).

4. Was it worth it and why?
“The accreditation process was a significant journey for our organization. We encountered many obstacles such as organizational understanding and buy-in. It forced our organization to “change” many of the procedures in our service delivery, as well as our culture. As uncomfortable and struggling, this process can be and was, it has made us stronger and has allowed us to better serve our citizens and develop the strategy needed to measure every performance indicator of our operation and monitor the effectiveness of the services we deliver. I would recommend this process to everyone who wants to make a positive difference” (John Podgorski, Fire Chief, Portage FD, MI).

“Becoming accredited was well worth the effort. PFD has aspired to become accredited for several years. Now that we are accredited, we have taken a huge step to proving our high-level of professionalism to a world of people that enjoys Pasadena every January 1” (Bertral Washington, Fire Chief, Pasadena FD, CA).

“Yes, it was worth the effort. The accreditation model provided a road map that allows us to evaluate our processes and strive for improvements. We don’t neglect planning for the future because of the day to day tasks as we sometimes did in the past” (Chief Henry Hoffman, Fire Chief, DLA Installation Support at Susquehanna, PA).

“It was definitely worth it as it has positively changed the culture of a 100 person fire department with over 100 years of history and tradition. It has also generated internal pride from personnel who may not fully understand the process but who still like the reaction they get from other fire departments who find out we are accredited” (Rob Ugaste, Fire Chief, Wauwatosa FD, WI).

“If you truly want to see the bowels of your agency, then the accreditation process is the means to do it. It reveals the good, the bad and the ugly. But isn’t that what we need to do if we truly want to improve our organization?” (Marion Blackwell, Fire Chief, Spartanburg, SC).

“Absolutely, positively, unequivocally yes. When we originally started the process about 10 years ago, we tried to rush through the process, which would have minimized the true benefits of the journey. By slowing down and aligning with the process, our organization has progressed into a modern day professional fire department that stands shoulder to shoulder with any public or private sector business in our city in terms of management, efficiency and professionalism. We truly are a better organization due to this process. It allowed us to carefully look at every level and make adjustments based on best practices” (Margaret Felix, Interim Fire Chief, Grand Rapids FD, MI).

“Was it worth it, yes very much so, our department now has a greater sense of professionalism and higher performance. We’ve always held ourselves to a very high standard. Expectations are much higher these days. It is a tremendous amount of work and analysis of our process, we had to be very open to looking at how we do things and how we can make it better. And again we are now truly better because of it. I believe every Fire Chief and every Fire & Emergency Services Organization should go through this process, well worth the hard work & dedication” (Gary L. Peck, Fire Chief, 115th FW Fire Emergency Services, Truax Field, WI).

As you can see from the responses above there are some differences in what each community achieved and found as valuable. What I have learned over 35 years in the fire service is each story is different because each and every community is unique. Succinctly however there was value in the accreditation process for each of these agencies.

Many of the key words found in the comments from the accredited agencies center around the intent of accreditation since it began. Words like change, measurable performance, continuous improvement, data driven decision-making, and community. The additional value these agencies saw centered on words like achievement, purpose, pride, and professionalism.

In closing, we in the fire service are risk takers. We balance risk versus reward (cost v. value) daily in every response we go to. For over 400 agencies that are currently somewhere in the process of accreditation they are or have learned the risk is worth the reward. They are seeking to make a difference in their community through change in their organization to better serve Mrs. Smith.

If you would like to learn more about the accreditation process and how the quality improvement model can work for your community go to the CPSE website or contact me at

Upcoming CPSE Workshops

CPSE has several workshops scheduled for the next few months. Register today to reserve your seat at the workshop that meets your needs. Please pass these dates and locations on to your colleagues at adjacent fire departments to help us promote attendance at all workshops.

For course details and registration, go to:

April 27, 2016
DOD Only – The Reimagined Community Risk Assessment – Standards of Cover

May 02, 2016
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Tamarac, FL

May 02, 2016
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Wauwatosa, WI

May 03, 2016
DOD ONLY: Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Sigonella, Italy

May 03, 2016
The Reimagined Community Risk Assessment – Standards of Cover

May 11, 2016
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Jacksonville, NC

May 18, 2016
Data Analysis & Presentation
Addison, TX

June 13, 2016
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Covington, GA

June 20, 2016
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Olivette, MO

July 11, 2016
DOD ONLY: Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Keyport WA

July 20, 2016
CPSE Peer Assessor Webinar – July 2016