CPSE Welcomes New Volunteer Leader

Chief Steve Dongworth

The Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE) recently appointed a new volunteer leader to its Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI).

Chief Steve Dongworth, Fire Chief, Calgary, AB joined the eleven-member CFAI. CFAI is tasked with monitoring the process for fire agency accreditation and granting accreditation during public hearings. Chief Dongworth was nominated by the IAFC and replaces Chief W. Bruce Burrell.

On December 12, 2014, The City of Calgary announced Steve Dongworth as Calgary’s new fire chief, starting January 1, 2015. He has more than 35 years’ experience in municipal fire and emergency services. He joined the Calgary Fire Department in 1992, and was promoted to deputy chief in 2000.

Previously, Dongworth was the deputy chief of Community Standards, Recruitment and Training. In this role, he oversaw The Calgary Fire Department’s Inspection & Investigation sections, which include fire safety codes officers who enforce the provisions of the Alberta Safety Codes Act, fire investigators and the Accelerant Detection Canine program as well as recruitment, firefighter and recruit training, and the Fire Cadet program. Prior to this, Dongworth served in a variety of deputy chief commands including Operations, Training, Community Services, Administration and Emergency Management. He has led a wide variety of projects from the development of false alarm fees to the creation of the Community Safety section.

Something New at Excellence Conference

CPSE’s 2016 Excellence Conference in Orlando, March 15-18, will offer many new features for attendees. First and foremost is an entire track of programming devoted to an understanding of the agency accreditation model and process. The “Accreditation Bootcamp” track is devoted to getting started and successfully completing the accreditation process.

The first session, on Wednesday, March 16 is “Getting Started on Your Accreditation Journey.” Ensuing sessions through Wednesday, Thursday and Friday focus on building an accreditation team, community risk, establishing the accreditation culture, the four parts of the Self-Assessment Manual and finishing on Friday with a perspective on “From Candidacy to the Commission,” preparing for the CFAI hearing with a three-member panel comprising an accreditation manager, team leader, and CFAI commissioner. Also new this year is incorporating the opening night networking reception with our annual fundraiser for National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. This year’s event is from 5-6 pm on Tuesday, March 15, outdoors on the Boca Patio at the Caribe Royale Orlando hotel (weather permitting). Entrance to the fundraiser consists of a $20 donation to the Foundation. Each $20 donation provides one drink ticket and one door prize ticket.

Door prizes that will be given away during the reception include:

  • All expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC and ticket to the Congressional Fire Service Institute dinner on May 5, sponsored by ISO.
  • $250 MasterCard gift card, sponsored by CPSE.
  • Complimentary registration for one individual to the 2017 Excellence Conference in Orange County, CA, sponsored by CPSE.
  • $50 Visa gift card sponsored by Sam Carbis Solutions Group.

Plus many other prizes from leading vendors and from the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

Registration for the conference closes on Monday, February 29. Register today for the 2016 CPSE Excellence Conference.

CPSE Kicks Off 2016 Consortium Visits

On January 27, 2016, Chief Randy Bruegman, CPSE President, and Debbie Sobotka, CPSE Deputy Director and CPC Program Director, joined the Arizona Accreditation and Credentialing Consortium hosted by Superstition Fire and Medical District, Apache Junction, AZ, for their first meeting of the year. As the group is newly formed, discussion focused on the goals and objectives for the year as well as an open forum for attendees represented by registered, applicant, and accredited agencies as well as credentialed officers. Jake Rhoades, CFO, CEMSO, CTO, Fire Chief of Kingman Fire Department volunteered to co-chair the consortium with Mike Walton, CFO, CTO, Battalion Chief, City of Yuma Fire Department, who has been the Chair since June 2015. CPSE representatives provided an update on corporate activities including the reimagining project and the 2016 CPSE Reinvestment Plan.

Representatives of agencies attending the
Georgia Consortium meeting.

During the week of February 22, CPSE staff visited two state consortiums. On Monday, February 22, CPSE CEO, Preet Bassi, and Director of Business Development, Tom Mawson, visited with members of the Georgia Association for Fire Accreditation and Professional Credentialing at Clayton County Fire & Emergency Services. Seven agencies, including the counties of Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, and Gwinett, and the cities of Atlanta, Columbus, and Covington were represented at the meeting. Preet provided an update on the re-imagining of the accreditation model and responded to questions regarding improvements in the accreditation process and in development of the 6th edition of the new Community Risk Assessment-Standards of Cover (CRA-SOC) manual. Tom offered key tips from the recently published “Consortium Toolkit” to help get the new consortium organized and operating efficiently.

On Wednesday, February 24, Tom Mawson and CFAI Program Director, Karl Ristow, attended a meeting of the Virginia Consortium in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Nine agencies in Virginia were represented, including the counties of Fairfax, Fauquier and Henrico, in addition to the cities of Virginia Beach, Charlottesville, Hampton, and Newport News, as well as Navy Region Mid-Atlantic and Marine Corps FPES. Karl provided an overview of changes in the new 9th edition of the FESSAM and answered questions related to the accreditation model, process, and development of new curriculum and the new CRA-SOC manual. Tom led a discussion of the key recommendations for the consortium to organize and begin to plan objectives and activities necessary to grow statewide interest in accreditation and credentialing with support of the consortium.

“Personal Accreditation”

By Deputy Chief Norris Croom

Deputy Chief Norris Croom

Over two hundred departments have successfully completed the accreditation process, and as of this month, 1,708 fire service professionals have been designated through the Commission on Professional Credentialing (CPC). When people ask me why they should seek one or more of the five designations, I use the analogy that it is simply a form of “personal accreditation”.

The combination of education, experience, professional affiliations and contributions, community service, and technical competencies (if needed) all serve as core competencies and performance indicators of the applicant. And like accreditation, the applicant has to provide a plan for continuous quality improvement over the next three years before they seek re-designation.

All of this information is then peer-reviewed by two other designated professionals, and in most cases, a telephone interview is conducted with the applicant. The peer reviewers will then make a recommendation to the Commission as to whether or not the designation should be awarded to the applicant.

Why is a designation important? It serves as a formal recognition of the individual’s professional accomplishments when compared against a recognized standard, and validates the professional competence of that individual. In today’s world where fire and EMS professionals are expected to operate more like business executives, the designation serves as evidence to the rest of the industry as well as the governing bodies that the individual should be professionally competent and capable of leading and managing a company, battalion, division, district, or agency. As we all know, a piece of paper doesn’t guarantee the success of the individual, but it is a strong indicator of future performance.

So as you can see, the designation model is very similar to the accreditation model. And, in order for our profession to continue to move forward to meet the demands placed upon us, our organizations need to be led by people who have realized the value of “personal accreditation.”

Norris W. Croom III, EFO, CEMSO, CFO, is the Deputy Chief of Operations for the Castle Rock (CO) Fire and Rescue Department. He currently serves as the Vice Chair and EMS Representative on the CPSE Commission on Professional Credentialing, and as the International Director for the International Association of Fire Chiefs EMS Section.

Designees in the News

Commission on Professional Credentialing (CPC) Chair Steven Locke, CFO, took over as the Chief Engineer for the Burlington Fire Department, VT, on February 2, 2016. Chief Locke joined the City of Burlington following more than 20 years of service with the Hartford Fire Department, VT, including seven years as Fire Chief. Locke has an associate’s degree in fire science, a bachelor’s degree in fire administration, and a master’s degree in fire service leadership. He completed the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program in 2007 and has been a Chief Fire Officer (CFO) designee since July 2009.

CPC Commissioner Reginald Freeman, CFO, was sworn-in on February 2, 2016, as the Fire Chief of Hartford Fire Department, Hartford, CT. Chief Freeman joins Hartford after serving as the Fire Chief for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics in Ft. Worth, TX. Chief Freeman holds a Bachelor’s degree in Leadership, a Master’s degree in Executive Fire Service Leadership, and is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Homeland Security. Chief Freeman has also attended Harvard University’s Senior Executives for State & Local Government program at the Kennedy School of Government. He received his CFO designation in May 2008 and is a fellow grade with the Institution of Fire Engineers.

John O’Neal, CFO, was recently appointed Fire Chief for the City of Fairfax, VA, Fire Department. Chief O’Neal has almost 30 years’ experience in fire and rescue services, department leadership, and emergency management. He spent the last five years as the fire chief for the Town of Addison, TX. Chief O’Neal holds a bachelor’s degree in fire administration and a master’s in public administration. He is a graduate of the Executive Fire Officer Program and has held the Chief Fire Officer (CFO) designation since May 18, 2004.

Deron “Pat” Wilson, CFO, has been named fire chief for Coweta County, NC, Fire Department. Chief Wilson has more than 29 years of fire service experience and most recently served as Deputy Chief with the Charleston, SC, Fire Department. Chief Wilson holds both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in business administration. He earned the Chief Fire Officer (CFO) designation in 2011 and served as the President of the Southeastern Association of Fire Chiefs in 2015.

Accreditation: Is It Worth It?

By Karl Ristow, CFO, MIFireE

This is the first of a two part article that will examine the cost and value for agencies seeking accreditation.

Due to increasing oversight of public safety budgets, concerns regarding the cost of discretionary activities, such as seeking accreditation, have risen. In my role over the last three years, I have heard from agency heads that while they wish to pursue accreditation, it costs too much. Likewise a few agencies have dropped their accreditation citing high costs. One agency recently stated to their elected officials that they estimate their costs to seek reaccreditation at $75,000 and were therefore choosing to not continue in the process. In this article, I am setting out to define the hard/external costs and highlight the soft/internal costs of pursuing and maintaining accreditation.

Registered Agency Status

The first step in the accreditation process is to become a registered agency. The 2016 fee is $570 and is valid for three years.

Agencies are required to enroll their accreditation manager, at a minimum, in two mandatory workshops:

  1. Quality Improvement through Accreditation: Regular registration for this three-day classroom workshop is $650. Over 20 sessions are provided throughout North America annually. If an agency is unable to locate one close to them, a total of $2350 should be budgeted for travel to attend the workshop.
  2. Peer Assessor Workshop: Registration for this online instructor-led course is $400. Attendees are able to attend from the comfort of their office and therefore no travel costs are incurred.

Applicant Agency Status

– A copy of the current Fire and Emergency Services Self-Assessment Manual (FESSAM),
– Access to SharePoint sites where the self-assessment templates and additional tools are available. Agencies can also use these SharePoint sites to network with other accreditation managers, and
– Six annual web-based Dayroom Discussion training opportunities.

Agencies are encouraged to move from registered to applicant during the final year of their three-year registered status. Successful agencies have their Community Risk Assessment and Standards of Cover (CRA-SOC) document and Strategic Plan completed prior to moving to applicant status. Applicant agencies are provided a mentor and their own dedicated SharePoint site. Agencies are given 18 months (24 months for volunteer agencies) to complete their accreditation documents and move to candidate agency status. Applicant agencies fees are based on the population of the agency’s jurisdiction.

Candidate Agency Status

2016 Applicant Agency Fee
0 – 9,999 $4,800
10,000 – 49,999 $5,950
50,000 – 99,999 $6,950
100,000 – 199,999 $8,150
200,000 – 499,999 $9,150
500,000 – 999,999 $11,800
OVER 1 MILLION $13,200

Once all three accreditation documents (CRA-SOC, Strategic Plan, and Self-Assessment Manual) are completed the agency is ready to move to candidate agency status. The agency is provided a new dedicated SharePoint site to load their final accreditation documents and a peer team is assigned to begin their review. Costs incurred by the agency during this status are for a four to five member peer team to travel to the agency for four to five days. The exact size of the team and number of assessors is based on the size and complexity of the agency. The agency should budget approximately $6,000 for travel, lodging, ground transportation, and meals for four peer assessors for five days. Should the peer team make a recommendation for accreditation, the agency head, accreditation manager, and peer team leader will need to attend the next scheduled Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) public hearing. Agencies should budget approximately $4,500 to attend the CFAI hearing.

Accredited Agency Status

2016 Annual Accreditation Fee
0 – 9,999 $950
10,000 – 49,999 $1,190
50,000 – 99,999 $1,390
100,000 – 199,999 $1,630
200,000 – 499,999 $1,830
500,000 – 999,999 $2,360

Accreditation is awarded for a five year term. During these five years, agencies are required to submit an annual compliance report and pay an annual accreditation fee. This fee is one fifth of the current applicant agency fee.

At the end of each five year accreditation period, the agency will receive another peer team site visit and need to appear before CFAI in-person. The agency in essence, becomes a candidate agency again and should plan for the costs based on the information above.

So if we take all of the hard costs for achieving accreditation through to reaccreditation it might look something like this:

Hard Costs by Fiscal Year
4 $4,800-$13,200 APPLICANT STATUS
5 $11,450-$13,140 REACCREDITATION YEAR

The costs above reflect the hard or external costs an agency faces when pursuing and maintaining accreditation. The soft or internal costs are not as easily defined as they are based on the unique make-up of each agency. The greatest soft/internal costs are staff hours. A few recently-accredited agencies have reported that they have committed nearly 15,000 staff hours to the accreditation effort. While high, other agencies have admitted that preparing documents and coordinating the accreditation process only took about 2,000 hours. The remaining 13,000 hours were spent on improving the agency based on the deficiencies identified during the self-assessment process. The agencies felt that the 13,000 hours should not be counted as a soft/internal cost of accreditation as their organization should have been working on improvements all along.

Agencies that embrace the self-assessment and accreditation process as part of their business plan, report that the staff hours dedicated to accreditation go down significantly once accredited. These agencies report an estimate of 1,200 hours to prepare documents to seek re-accreditation. However, agencies that make accreditation a once every five-year project will face a significantly higher investment of staff hours.

For Department of Defense (DoD) agencies the hard/external costs are lower as certain costs are supported through a contract by the Department of the Navy. The DoD contract provides funding for all agency fees, peer team travel, team leader travel to the commission hearings, and workshop registration. The remaining hard/external costs for DoD agencies are travel to the workshops and travel for the agency head and accreditation manager to the CFAI hearings. As with all agencies, soft/internal costs for staff hours are based on the size and complexity of the installation.

Is the investment worth it? In next month’s newsletter, we talk with agencies that have recently walked through the process to hear what they think.

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. But this is more reminiscent of the popular cool math games and not what is mentioned above.

For course details and registration, go to: www.cpse.org/news/upcoming-workshops-events.aspx.

March 28, 2016
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Atlanta, GA

March 28, 2016
Data Analysis & Presentation
Parris Island, SC

March 29, 2016
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Loveland, CO

March 30, 2016
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Dubuque, IA

April 05, 2016
DOD ONLY: Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Fort Huachuca, AZ

April 06, 2016
Data Analysis & Presentation
Novi, MI

April 12, 2016
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Sierra Vista, AZ

April 12, 2016
DOD ONLY: Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Richmond, KY

April 18, 2016
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Mississauga, Canada

April 20, 2016
CPSE Peer Assessor Workshop

April 25, 2016
DOD Only: Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Fort Detrick, MD

April 25, 2016
Data Analysis and Presentation
Boca Raton, FL

April 27, 2016
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Burbank, CA

May 02, 2016
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Wauwatosa, WI

May 02, 2016
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Tamarac, FL

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

May 05, 2016
Nurturing Fire Service Leaders Through Mentoring
Wauwatosa, WI

May 11, 2016
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Jacksonville, NC

May 18, 2016
Data Analysis & Presentation
Addison, TX