Agency Accreditation: Why it Matters

In our March newsletter, we revealed 14 agencies who received accreditation or re-accreditation at the 2017 Excellence Conference. But did you know there are over 230 accredited agencies in the CFAI network? So why have so many agencies decided to go for excellence and achieve accreditation status? Chief Leland Greek of Sumter County Fire & EMS, a first-time accredited agency from the March hearings, gives us insight into how accreditation has benefited his department.

Different departments seek continuous improvement for various reasons, which are specific to their communities. “We saw the process as a way to begin building the organization from an established template,” Chief Greek states. Of self-assessment, he says the strategic process allowed the department to develop appropriately for their community. Communities want answers for why their resources do what they do. Chief Greek explains the self-assessment process forced the department to examine how business is done and to consistently ask “why” and “how” in all they do. “This process has allowed us to appropriately justify our needs to our governing political body in order to gain support.”

The reasons behind pursuing accreditation give continuous improvement and self-assessment meaning to that department, spanning personal to professional. “The process allows us to put systems in place that will allow us to continually evaluate and validate what we do moving forward,” Chief Greek explains, “lending to the continuous improvement process.” He states receiving accreditation status has provided a sense of pride for his department.

Regardless of the reasons behind pursuing self-assessment, and the systems already in place, the department will inevitably learn something about itself through the process. Chief Greek explains that, although his department was already doing many things correctly, it forced the department to track and record documents more formally. “The process prompted us to put out surveys and ask questions of other agencies to determine how they were doing things in communities similar in make-up to ours,” he states. This can not only assist your own department in evaluating how work is handled, but it can also create relationships with other agencies, which can serve as professional resources. Chief Greek supports this by stating, “during the initial process and since receiving accredited agency status, we have gained relationships with other agencies whereby we both benefit from the learning process of seeking continuous improvement.”

Is continuous improvement and self-assessment right for your department? Chief Greek reminds us that “the more you invest, in time and money, the more you can expect in return.”

Hungry for more? Visit our accreditation page.

TAP-ing into Potential

CPSE’s Technical Advisor Program (TAP) assists agencies in the accreditation process with facilitation of documents, from community-driven strategic plans to standards of cover. What do agencies seek TAP’s help with? And why do they choose TAP for that assistance? Deputy Chief Marc Lusk of Amarillo Fire Department talks with us about why his department reached out to TAP and how TAP assisted them.

Chief Lusk explains that in 2016, the city’s interim city manager requested that city departments prioritize accreditation. “The Amarillo Fire Department took this message to heart,” he says, “and set an aggressive timeline to complete the CFAI accreditation process.” As for how TAP fits into that picture, he says, “we felt TAP was an asset that would be able to properly guide us in the development of the Strategic Plan, Community Risk Assessment/Standard of Cover, and the Self-Assessment Manual.” After experiencing success in developing their strategic plan, Amarillo Fire Department felt that it would be beneficial to utilize TAP’s expertise for the entire accreditation process. “TAP was able to develop a scope of work plan that meets our aggressive timelines to complete the project,” Chief Lusk states. Because of this expertise, Chief Lusk is also confident the department will fully meet the accreditation requirements.

As is the case when another entity comes into our environment to assist us through a process, a department is likely to see things in a different light after working with TAP. “The process was enlightening for the AFD administration,” Chief Lusk explains, “because we now have a better feel for what the members of the department see as priorities for themselves, and the members of the AFD found that the chief officers are willing to hear what they have to say about the services they provide to the community.” He also noticed positive change in this relationship within just days of the planning meetings.

So what can be an outcome of working with TAP? “First, the AFD now has validation for the strategic direction we have planned,” Chief Lusk explains, “secondly, the citizens and the agencies we work closely with understand they are valued and will be heard.”

On if they would recommend utilizing TAP to other agencies seeking accreditation, Chief Lusk says, “Yes.” TAP can assist an agency in digging deep to find any cause for concern and hammering out how to approach community-centered documents and practices. Truly, they can help an agency TAP into their potential.

If your department wants to get a head start on the self-assessment process and wants TAP’s help, visit their page.

Why Credential?

As it stands, there are 1210 CFO designees, 118 CEMSO designees, 115 FM designees, 94 CTO designees, and 373 FO designees across the U.S. and Canada, including those who received designations at the 2017 Excellence Conference. Why are so many professionals reaching for these designations? Michael Curtin, FO, Lieutenant with the Burlington Fire Department in Burlington, VT, and IAFF Local 3044 President, talks with us about why he chose CPSE’s credential program.

Curtin explains it takes personal motivation to pursue designations and divulges his motivation to continue professional development: “I am good friends with Shawn Hannux who is a Hartford, VT Captain, and he was the first in the State of Vermont to obtain the FO Designation, and I wanted to be the second in the State and first in my own department.” If you are interested in pursuing a professional development path, “it is a great way to look at yourself and your contribution to your department and to the fire service” he says.

So how does credentialing benefit your career? The requirements of achieving the designations are rigorous, and an officer must show involvement in not only their department but also their community. Curtin explains completing the competencies portion of the designation application better prepared him for the written portion of his Captain’s exam. He also feels “it shows you ways to get involved with your community and makes you think about how to handle potential situations as a company officer.”

Curtin explains professional development helps you to better examine your contribution to your profession and the relationship between you and your department. “It’s easy to sit back and criticize,” he says, “but it’s hard to do something about it.” Credentialing is how you can do something about it.

If you’re ready to do something more for your career, visit our page on credentialingto learn more.

All About…Consortiums

Sense of community is important in giving a group a trusted source to seek help and feedback from. That is where our consortiums come in. CPSE has 14 consortiums that provide community to accredited agencies as well as credentialed officers across the United States and Canada. What do Consortiums do?

Stephanie Julazadeh, Captain of the North Charleston Fire Department, says, simply, the consortiums serve as “the organized voice of accreditation managers.” Let’s look deeper, though. Leonard Chan, Accreditation and Compliance Coordinator for the Texas Consortium, explains consortiums provide an avenue for CPSE to learn about issues specific to a state or region as well as “provide context on the environment a department operates under.” As Chief James White, EFO, CFO, MIFireE puts it, “the roll of today’s consortium is to bridge the gap between CPSE and the local agency.” White further explains “having the ability to speak to someone locally who you trust, and who has been through the process, is huge to the success of the process.”

So why should departments be a part of their local consortiums? “Consortiums serve as a vehicle to foster collaborative relationships among fire departments across a respective geographic area,” Chan explains. “Departments that participate in a consortium can learn from each other when establishing new programs.” In addition to departments learning collaboration, White finds benefit in the fact that individuals, such as Accreditation Managers, can share any difficulties they may be facing with self-assessment, strategic plan, or standard of cover. The consensus: consortiums can help departments through accreditation process concerns, training, mentoring, and brainstorming.

Basically, consortiums are there to help. “They open up to all of your questions and can relate to others who have walked the walk,” White explains. “It is really a network geared totally for success.” “We were all where you are at some point in the accreditation process,” Julazadeh states. “Come on in.”

For a full list of our consortiums and their contact information, visit the consortium page on our website.

Two Accredited Agencies Receive CFSI Recognition

On April 6th at the 29th Annual National Fire and Emergency Services dinner in Washington, D.C., Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MD) and Orange County Fire Rescue Department (FL) were honored by the Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) for their “best practices and innovative solutions.”

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service was given this recognition for their development of the Montgomery County Non-Emergency Intervention and Community Care Coordination initiative. Through examining frequent users of the 911 system, this program assists fire department personnel in connecting patients to programs that would be appropriate to treat their conditions. Because of this program, call volume for these services has decreased significantly within the user group.

Orange County Fire Rescue Department was recognized for their implementation of the Sepsis Alert Program and the Paramedic Preceptor Academy. The Sepsis Alert Program allows the fire department, in conjunction with the Orange County Office of the Medical Director, to identify and initiate pre-hospital treatment for patients experiencing severe sepsis. This has reduced time to definitive care, ICU admits, and length of hospital stays. The Paramedic Preceptor Academy has led to an increase in pass rates for new paramedics and improved training and continuing education opportunities. Both programs have enhanced the department’s pre-hospital knowledge base and helped the community through an increased chance of survival.

The programs developed and implemented by Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service and Orange County Fire Rescue Department show how the continuous quality improvement process can assist departments in seeing the needs of their communities and rising to meet those needs. The self-assessment process and the Accreditation Model give departments the tools to better meet the needs of their communities.

To read the CFSI article on the recognition of these two departments, visit their website.

Just a Friendly Reminder…

Don’t forget: CPSE is accepting nominations for the CPSE Nomination for the IAFC/Pierce Manufacturing Fire Chief of the Year Award.

There will be two awards presented: career fire chief and volunteer fire chief. CPSE can submit one nomination in both the Career and Volunteer Chief category.

The following describes the award criteria:

  1. Only active department chiefs are eligible.
  2. Previous Fire Chief of the Year award winners are not eligible.
  3. Selection criteria will emphasize the following: leadership, innovation, professional development, integrity, public service, and contributions to the industry.
  4. While all a nominee’s fire service activities and accomplishments will be considered, special emphasis will be placed on the period from 2014 to 2016.
  5. A nominee’s command role at a major incident will not be enough to place that individual into contention for the Award.

CPSE will accept nominations from our communities of credentialed CFOs and accredited fire departments.

Nomination packets must be received no later than 3 May 2017. An internal selection process will determine who will receive CPSE’s nomination.

Access the Nomination Form here. We look forward to seeing your nominations!

What’s Coming Up: CPSE Workshops

If any of these stories have resonated with you, CPSE has several workshops scheduled over the next few months so you can learn more about our programs. Register today to reserve your seat at any workshop that meets your needs.

For course details and registration, go to our Workshops & Events page.

May 3, 2017
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Roseville, CA

May 8, 2017
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Fort Collins, CO

May 16, 2017
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Fargo, ND

May 17, 2017
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Lansing, MI

June 12, 2017
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Calgary, AB

June 19, 2017
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Murfreesboro, TN

June 19, 2017
DoD Only: Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Souda Bay, Crete

July 12, 2017
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Blue Springs, MO

July 18, 2017
DoD Only: Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Goodfellow AFB, TX