August Newsletter

August is the time for back to school. In this spirit, the Center for Public Safety Excellence has themed our August newsletter around education and training. In this newsletter, you will find articles on the Chief Training Officer (CTO) designation, training and education in agencies, CPSE’s education strategic initiative, workshop hosting opportunities for 2018, and upcoming workshops.

All About: The Chief Training Officer (CTO) Designation

Have you ever wondered how our designation programs got their start? Or have you thought about how one of the designations could benefit your career? Now is your chance. Chief Brian Kazmierzak, CTO talked with us about the Chief Training Officer (CTO) program and why he chose to pursue the designation.

About the Designation

Fun fact: Chief Kazmierzak served as a member of the technical working group that drafted the technical competencies for the CTO designation. “I was aware of the CFO process offered by CPSE,” he said, “but, looking at the CFO designation, it did not fit me.” The Commission on Professional Credentialing (CPC) Program Director, Debbie Sobotka, eventually brought Chief Kazmierzak on to be involved in the project. “I had seen other professional credentials offered for training officers at the time, but being tied to the CFO process and CPSE seemed like a natural fit for me,” he said.

Once the designation was developed, he was one of the first individuals to go through the beta process.

The Learning Process

If you are currently an administrator of training and education programs in your organization, the CTO designation is designed for you. “It measures you against your peers,” he explained, “and holds you accountable for your professional development.”

Applications can be arduous, though. What can you learn about your professional development during an application process?

Candidates seeking the CTO designation must demonstrate proficiency in the seven components of the model and the NFPA 1021 and 1041 standards.

“I learned about gaps in my background,” Chief Kazmierzak said. He explained his realization that community volunteerism was important to professional development. “I also learned that several classes I had taken in the past really helped to narrow other gaps I needed for the designation.”

To see how you measure against the eligibility requirements, download the candidate guidelines and application today.

How the Accreditation Model Prepares Agency Training

Training and educational resource programs express the philosophy of the organization they serve and are central to its mission. If this sentence sounds familiar, good. You’ve taken a step toward accreditation, and you’re familiar with Category VIII in the Fire and Emergency Service Self-Assessment Manual (FESSAM) 9th Edition. With three criteria and five core competencies spanning training and education program requirements, performance, and resources, it is clear training and education are important to ensuring an agency operates at a continued level of excellence.

To get a better idea of how agencies incorporate Category VIII, we talked with training Chief Randy Callahan of Poudre Fire Authority (PFA) in Fort Collins, Colorado about their training program.

Training Programs

The first performance indicator, and the first core competency of Category VIII (8A.1) states: “the organization has a process in place to identify training needs.” These training needs include the tasks, activities, knowledge, skills, and abilities required to handle emergency conditions.

How does Poudre Fire Authority meet this criterion?

“The PFA follows the United States Fire Administration Professional Development Model, ISO, regulatory mandates, and accreditation recommendations to develop its training/education programs,” Chief Callahan explained. PFA follows a three-year cycle training calendar, where the agency identifies future training needs, in order to better meet medium and long-term organizational goals.

The agency embraces the flipped classroom concept, Chief Callahan stated, and basic skills, driver/operator, and EMS assignments are sent out in an eight-week cycle. “Roughly four times a year,” Chief Callahan said, “the agency incorporates the concepts of previous assignments into department-wide scenario based Major Emphasis Training.”

What’s more, PFA has a cooperative research partnership with the local university, Colorado State University (CSU), to assist with training needs and assessment as well as the exploration of best learning practices. According to Chief Callahan, these projects include: modern fire service learning strategies, After Action Review (AAR) improvements, and firefighter health and fitness.

Self-Assessment and Training

The connection between self-assessment and training can be seen in the approaches PFA takes to their training programs. The partnership with CSU, for one, can help PFA to meet core competency 8B.3: “the agency evaluates individual and crew performance through validated and documented performance-based measurements.”

“The self-assessment process helped immensely with PFA’s training programs,” Chief Callahan said. He explained he used the tool to “identify training gaps,” which allowed him to evaluate and correct certain attainable items before the accreditation process truly began.

Poudre Fire Authority supports the concept of the flipped classroom. For the agency’s purposes, “flipping the classroom pertains to sending preliminary training topics out to PFA personnel [through the learning management system] prior to crews traveling to the training grounds,” said Chief Callahan. This means crews can arrive at the training campus with a high baseline understanding of the training topic, as well as allowing for combined “higher drill ground activity” and higher learning objectives.

But how does the self-assessment process play a role in this concept?

Chief Callahan explained “the self-assessment model creates an effective and efficient mindset that seeks excellence.” The flipped classroom concept supports response reliability as well as higher learning objectives, he said. “The accreditation process allowed PFA to fine-tune and validate the flipped classroom concept.”

Self-assessment, then, is a huge step in ensuring top-notch training programs.

Closing Remarks

It is clear Chief Callahan and PFA support the CFAI accreditation process. “It is an important evaluative tool,” Chief Callahan stated, “that assists with identifying current needs, along with medium and long-term organizational goals.”

2018 CPSE Workshop Hosting Opportunities

Are you interested in hosting one of the following workshops?

  • Exceeding Customer Expectations (ECE) – 8 hours
  • Nurturing Fire Service Leaders Through Mentoring (Mentoring) – 8 hours
  • Quality Improvement Through Accreditation (QITA) – 3 days

Does your agency meet the following criteria?

  • An active CPSE agency (registered, applicant, candidate or accredited) – QITA Only
  • In close proximity to hotels and restaurants
  • A meeting room with internet and AV
  • A meeting room with classroom seating for at least 25

If so, get your agency on the hosting list! Host agencies guarantee to register at least four personnel for the workshop. If registrations exceed 20 paid registrations, the fee for two of these registrations will be waived. We also ask host agencies to market the workshop among departments and personnel in their area.

We are currently looking for hosts in the following locations:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Georgia
  • Kansas
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • North Dakota
  • North Texas
  • Northern California
  • Northern Florida
  • Oregon
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Ontario, Canada

For more information or to request a hosting agreement please contact:

Cynde Singer, CFAI and Events Administrator, by email at or by phone at 703-691-4620 ext. 206

CPSE Strategic Initiative: Excellence in Education

The mission of CPSE is as follows: “Leading the fire and emergency service to excellence through the continuous quality improvement process of accreditation, credentialing, and education.” In the current (2016-2021) CPSE strategic plan, “Education” is one of six strategic initiatives identified to improve upon, ensuring that the CFAI and CPC models and processes remain current and effective. To that end, work has begun to establish a continuous improvement strategy for our education program. The Center selected an education consultant to work with the staff in developing a quality improvement process and plan for the education initiative. Focus was placed upon direction from the Board of Directors as well as feedback from the Center’s strategic planning process stakeholders. As a part of this process, a three-year education strategy development plan was developed through 2020. The current five phases of the plan include:

Phase 1: (October 2016 – March 2017) Establish an approved “Strategy Development Outline” based upon stakeholder feedback and hire an Education Director.

Phase 2: (March 2017 – November 2017) Recruit a cadre of Education Champions to support the education strategy, and identify measurable competencies categorized for CPSE use in developing and/or improving its education program and delivery.

Phase 3: (December 2017 – February 2018) Perform a learning needs analysis and identify key metrics and strategic education goals through 2020.

Phase 4: (December 2017 – Ongoing) Develop and implement the education strategic plan.

Phase 5: (March 2018 – Ongoing) Evaluate outcomes and revise plan as needed.

While information at this point on the CPSE education initiative is global in nature, the following specifics have been accomplished in phases 1, 2, and 4 to date:

  • Phase 1 is complete with stakeholder feedback and the selection of a CPSE Education Director (Richard Fagan, CFO).
  • Phase 2 has progressed with the selection and commitment of 16 “Education Champions” who have volunteered assistance with the development of the CPSE education program; CFAI and CPC key competencies are being drafted to establish a competency catalog; and, finally, CPSE’s Deputy Director and Education Director attended the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) Accredited Provider Course, beginning our preparation and pursuit of IACET accredited status for education deliveries.
  • Phase 4 has progressed with the continued development and implementation of the education strategic plan.

As CPSE continues its journey of continuous quality improvement in search of excellence with its education programs, we will provide updates as key elements are accomplished.

Consortium Highlight: Great Lake Fire Accreditation Managers (GLFAM)

On August 9th Debbie Sobotka, CPSE Deputy Director, had the opportunity to visit the Great Lakes Fire Accreditation Managers (GLFAM) consortium meeting, hosted by Rockford Fire Department. This provided the chance to congratulate recently re-accredited and newly accredited departments from Naperville Fire Department, IL; Westmont Fire Department, IL; The Village of Skokie Fire Department, IL; Highland Park Fire Department, IL; Oak Creek Fire Department, WI; and Fort McCoy Fire and Emergency Services, WI.

During the meeting the Commission on Professional Credentialing (CPC) Vice-Chair and Fire Chief of Rockford Fire Department Derek Bergsten, CFO, CEMSO, CTO and Debbie presented to the group on “The CPC Credentialing Program and its Relation to Performance Indicator 8A.5.” Debbie also provided an update to the group on CPSE corporate activities.

At the conclusion, GLFAM consortium coordinator and Fire Chief of Naperville Fire Department Mark Puknaitis, CFO, presented on “Integrating Accreditation Within All Aspects of Your Department.”

There were a total of 25 in-person representatives, with another five online.


CPSE will be at Firehouse Expo! Come by booth #1643 to learn more about accreditation and credentialing, or just to say hello. We look forward to seeing you!

Early bird pricing ends September 1.

Coming Up

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

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

September 18, 2017
Nurturing Fire Service Leaders Through Mentoring
Charlotte, NC

September 19-21, 2017
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Dayton, OH

September 26-28, 2017
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Kingston, ON

October 5, 2017
Exceeding Customer Expectations
Germantown, WI

October 13, 2017
Exceeding Customer Expectations
Pasadena, CA

October 24-26, 2017
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Lincoln, NE

October 24-26, 2017
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Fairfax City, VA

November 13-15, 2017
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Winter Park, FL

November 14-16, 2017
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Kent, WA

November 16, 2017
Nurturing Fire Service Leaders Through Mentoring
Winter Park, FL

December 5-7, 2017
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Slidell, LA