A Letter From CPSE President, Chief Randy R. Bruegman

I would like to personally invite you to the 2017 CPSE Excellence Conference, which is shaping up to be the best ever. The 2017 Excellence Conference heads to California for the first time and will be held at the Hyatt Regency Orange County, CA March 21-24, 2017.

We have lined up over 25 hours of dynamic conference programming over four days, terrific networking opportunities, and more. This conference brings together the real thought leaders in the fire service on quality, data, the use of predictive analytics, and a showcase of organizations who are truly on the leading edge of our profession. Once again, CPSE is honored to be holding its annual fundraiser for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, a partner organization who does such valued work for those fire service families that have suffered a loss.

Attending the Excellence Conference brings opportunities to:

  • learn how to move your department through the accreditation process
  • hear your peers sharing how achieving professional designations advances careers in the fire service
  • gain from interaction with technical facilitators and peer assessors
  • grow your abilities as a leader
  • learn the latest developments in technology for fire departments from our conference sponsors
  • learn what the latest trends are in in the industry
  • be exposed to the best leaders and agencies in the fire and emergency services

Make your plans now and build registration for the Excellence Conference into your 2017 budget. Bring your key personnel and expose them to the steps that departments are taking every day around the world to achieve excellence. If time permits and you can spend a couple of extra days, bring your family too, there is a great deal to see in Southern California.

I look forward to greeting you in March in Orange County, California. Make the 2017 Excellence Conference the start of your journey to continuous quality improvement – in your career and in your department’s delivery of services.

Chief Randy Bruegman
Anaheim Fire Department

CPSE Presents to Ontario Fire Chiefs

CPSE was invited to present on November 23rd at the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs Midterm Meeting. Held in Niagara Falls, Ontario, over 160 delegates were in attendance. Rick Fagan, CFO, and CPSE Technical Advisor Program Director, presented “Is Your Fire and Emergency Service Operation Credible?” Fagan shared how the CFAI accreditation model and self-assessment process serve as tools to evaluate all aspects of an agency’s operations with an eye to continuous improvement.

Highlighting that the CFAI model works no matter the size or complexity of a community and its fire department, Fagan explained the building blocks of agency accreditation: assessing community risk, establishing goals and objectives, developing standards of cover, setting performance benchmarks, strategic planning, and self-assessing.

Fagan closed by explaining the resources available through CPSE and locally to support agencies interested in accreditation. Representatives from the Southern Ontario Branch of the Canadian Consortium were in attendance. CPSE consortiums are groups of agencies engaged in the accreditation process that meet locally to train, network, and provide support. More information about the SOBCC is available on CPSE’s website.

Integrating Accreditation and Lean Methodology

Brad Brown, FO

The Michigan-Indiana-Ohio accreditation consortium met on December 9th in Grand Rapids, Michigan, hosting approximately 20 people despite the snowy travel conditions. Deputy City Manager Eric DeLong provided unique insight into the transformation of the City of Grand Rapids and how accreditation played a key role in helping the fire department navigate change. The decision point for the city came in 2008, when Grand Rapids was experiencing a $33 million general operating fund deficit and the city was faced with making tough decisions. Receiving guidance from local businesses, the city adopted lean methodology as a way to transform its business operations into a model that was highly efficient and effective. In addition, a considerable amount of time and effort was expended to establish a sustainability plan for the city and a concomitant transformation plan with three distinct phases; sustainable operations, sustainable asset management, and continuous improvement.

Mr. DeLong provided numerous examples of how accreditation helped disseminate lean methodology not only throughout the fire department but the city as well. The cornerstone of lean for the City is the A3 problem solving process. Named for the 11 x 17 sheet of paper that is utilized, the A3 has served as a problem-solving tool, a management tool, a project management platform, and as the decision point for all major city investments. The fire department is now responsible for training all city employees in this process. Much like accreditation, the A3 process is factual and data driven, using specific terms that have now been adopted as common language throughout the city. While describing a recent fire department presentation to the city council, Mr. DeLong recounted that the first question from the Mayor concerning a proposed deployment change was how it would affect the key metrics used by fire: distribution, concentration, and unit reliability. In closing, Eric discussed how the accreditation process provides a platform for success by always pushing for improvement through incremental and measurable change.

The second perspective discussed at the meeting was from Grand Rapids Fire Chief John Lehman, who retired from Aurora, IL as fire chief with over 29 years of experience. Chief Lehman has been in Grand Rapids for five months, and depicted the contrast between the two city’s governments and fire departments. He noted that in Grand Rapids the data comes first, then experience and intuition are applied to interpret the results, always with an eye on outcomes. Chief Lehman discussed several changes on the horizon for the fire department to keep pace with the growing city, noting that having clearly defined effective response forces and response time goals has given him and the command staff a great platform for managing the evolving risk profile in the city.

Accreditation – An Applied Research Project?

CPSE staff is often asked for examples of key documents by agencies working through the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) self-assessment and accreditation process. While examples may be beneficial, they could potentially hinder a critical element of the self-assessment process: an agency’s research of its own unique community.

For those that have attended the Executive Fire Officer (EFO) Program at the National Fire Academy, you were required to complete an Applied Research Project (ARP) in order to advance to the next year in the program. The ARP is designed for EFO students to investigate a key issue within their organization. Once the investigation is complete recommendations are offered, in the form of a paper, that contribute to the improvement of their organization. The primary elements of the paper are an introduction, background and significance, literature review, procedures, results, discussions, and references. Some students use their papers as a springboard for their master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation.

A foundational element of the CFAI self-assessment and accreditation process is a risk-based approach to decision making. Researching the unique community characteristics and determining the risks allows an agency to identify courses of action to mitigate the risks. Conducting this risk analysis, allows agencies to develop the key documents that are required: Community Risk Assessment/Standards of Cover (CRA/SOC), Strategic Plan (SP), and Self-Assessment Manual (SAM). The CRA/SOC and SP provide measurement and important reference for an agency’s SAM wherein they will describe how they meet CFAI accreditation model performance indicators, appraise their performance in accordance with these indicators, identify plans for improving their performance within these indicators, and then document references to support said performance.

The parallels between the EFO ARP and the CFAI accreditation process are quite clear. Accreditation starts with an understanding of an agency’s community through a comprehensive risk assessment. This research allows agencies to better understand the background and significance of their community and ensures a complete and thorough review is conducted. The SOC and Strategic Plan are the products of the research allowing for performance to be measured through the establishment of goals and objectives. The results of this work culminate in the SAM as agencies describe, analyze, and plan for improvements. References support an agency’s statements the same as they do in any ARP.

The value in the end is the potential for change and continuous improvement based on sound research. This research will be unique to your community and agency and cannot be duplicated elsewhere because factors may be different that can affect decision-making. Finally, conducting this original research instills pride and ownership which in turn will better support institutionalization of the concept of continuous improvement.

Professional Credentialing: Why Should I Care?

Reginald D. Freeman, MS, CFO, FIFireE
Chair, Commission on Professional Credentialing

I am sure that you have heard someone ask this question if you did not raise it yourself when thinking about or discussing professional credentialing and its relevancy to you and your career. In the 1970s, it was not out of the ordinary for a fire chief’s highest level of education to be a high school diploma. In the 80s, chiefs on average had an Associate’s Degree. Transcending into the 90s, it was commonplace for fire chiefs to have Bachelor’s Degrees and today, many, fire chiefs have graduate degrees including some with doctorates. Expectations levied on us by our elected officials, city managers, and communities are reflective of the “culture of accountability” that is prevalent in today’s society. Why should you care about professional credentialing? Credentials offered by the Commission on Professional Credentialing (CPC) through the Center for Public Safety Excellence, Inc., (CPSE) are a barometer for individual success and contributions as a fire service professional. Each designation, ranging from Chief Training Officer (CTO), Fire Marshal (FM), Chief Emergency Medical Services Officer (CEMSO), Fire Officer (FO), and Chief Fire Officer (CFO) are all designed to give a holistic evaluation of skills, experiences, training, and education.

Visit the CPC webpage for additional information or to download the candidate guidelines and application.

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:

January 09, 2017
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Naples, FL

January 24, 2017
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Columbus, GA

January 26, 2017
Nurturing Fire Service Leaders through Mentoring
Riverside, CA

February 14, 2017
Quality Improvement Through Accreditaton
Goodyear, AZ

February 21, 2017
DoD Only: Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Parris Island, SC

February 22, 2017
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Roseville, CA

March 03, 2017
Exceeding Customer Expectations
Sarasota, FL

March 07, 2017
DoD Only: Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Okinawa, Japan

March 21, 2017
CPSE 2017 Excellence Conference