Donald N. Striejewske, CFO, FM, Joins Commission on Professional Credentialing (CPC)

Donald N. Striejewske, CFO, FM joins the CPC to serve as the Department of Defense (DoD) representative.

Chief Striejewske is currently the Fire Chief of Fort Drum Fire and Emergency Service Division, Fort Drum New York, home of the 10th Mountain Division. He is responsible for providing a world class, highly skilled and trained department ready to react immediately when called to prevent and minimize loss of life, property and environmental impact in periods of peace and war. Chief Striejewske earned a bachelor degree in Fire Administration at the State University of New York, Empire State College in 1988. He has more than 34 years of increasing experience working in emergency services for local, state, and federal agencies. In May 2012, he was granted “Chief Fire Officer” re-designation (4th term) by the Commission on Professional Credentialing and in June, 2012 received his Fire Marshal (FM) Designation. In addition to being a Chief Fire Officer for the past 16 years, he has taken time to participate in several FEMA and National Fire Academy advisory boards and fire safety grants as a peer reviewer. Chief Striejewske was promoted to the rank of Fire Chief in September 1998. He is the fourth generation fire chief in his family history dating back to 1840 and has 233 years of family fire service experience behind him.

Money Talks

By Chief Wayne Senter, CFO, MIFireE and
Deputy Chief Norris Croom, CEMSO, CFO, EFO

Looking back, a lot has changed over the last thirty years in fire and EMS officer development. Our industry was considered a trade and a high school diploma was sufficient to get hired. An Associate’s degree was rare and a Bachelor’s degree was unheard of, even as we promoted through the ranks into management positions. However, as an industry, we recognized the need to move from a trade to a profession. There were many topics, such as human resources, finance and budgeting, strategic planning, and the like, that were not covered in high school or the fire academy.

Realizing this, leaders began to focus on encouraging our incumbents to go back to school and earn a two year technical degree. Employers also began to give more credit to candidates with college degrees who were seeking employment as a firefighter or paramedic. This slow evolution created a new norm where a two year degree in fire science was an edge for those competing for company officer promotions or entry level positions. This created a ripple effect upward and soon raised the bar within the profession for senior incumbents and chief officers. Chief officers and chief officer candidates were headed back to school to earn their four year college degrees, and fire chief hopefuls were seeking post-graduate degrees. Today, many entry level firefighters possess graduate and post-graduate degrees, and this has also served to encourage incumbent supervisors who want to lead these new firefighters to obtain more formal education.

It is normal human behavior for employees to move toward the things where rewards exist, to move away from the things associated with punishment, and to ignore the things where neither reward nor punishment exists. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs proposes five areas for human motivation, and he proposed that these exist in the shape of a pyramid. The base of the pyramid represents human physiological, or basic, needs followed by security, or safety, both of which are vital to survival. One of the many ways employers tried to address these basic needs for incumbent employees was by creating educational incentives to go back to school. It is common today for an employer to pay for an employee’s formal education, and then once the degree is earned, to continue to reward the employee with formal education incentive pay.

While this incentive addresses the basic needs, it also addresses, potentially without the employee realizing it, the three higher needs, those being social, esteem, and self-actualization. At the same time, we as an industry have developed a great thirst for officer development. Perhaps it’s time we should consider replacing the formal educational incentives with an incentive for professional credentialing, which meets those higher needs and ensures continuous professional improvement.

Credentialing defined is “that which entitles one to confidence, credit or authority”, while designation is defined as “a distinguishing name, sign or title.” Understanding this, we believe that the Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE) through its Commission on Professional Credentialing (CPC) has the most current and applicable officer development format and designation process that establishes continuous professional development as a core value. For chief officers, there are several professional credentials, including Chief Fire Officer (CFO)Chief Emergency Medical Services Officer (CEMSO)Chief Training Officer (CTO), and Fire Marshal (FM), while company officers have the option to pursue the Fire Officer (FO)credential.

Once earned, the designation requires documented proof every three years that professional development has continued over that period of time. Credentialing encompasses a healthy mix of formal education, training, and experience that articulates competency at the particular level being sought. It also takes into account the individual’s personal development goals, community service, and technical competency.

More and more, we are beginning to see employers require one of these professional credentials for chief officer level positions within employment contracts and collective bargaining agreements. Some employers have also structured resumes for promotion with the credentialing format in mind, and if an oral resume is part of a promotional assessment, that same structured format is used. This not only encourages, but also allows candidates to submit the materials to CPSE for consideration of credentialing at the conclusion of the assessment.

If we replace educational incentives with credentialing incentives, we are actually killing two birds with one stone. Not only will we reward officers with higher levels of education, we will also know that they meet the requirements of the credential, which means their experience and technical competency is there as well.

As our workforce changes, so must its leaders, and this is one potential change that creates value now and into the future. We know that money talks, and we understand its value in employment contracts and collective bargaining agreements. So consider this potential incentive the next time you sit down at the bargaining table as it will be a win-win-win for your organization, your employees, and the citizens we all serve. Your workforce and the citizens who expect excellence will certainly be better for it!

Wayne Senter, CFO, MIFireE, is the Fire Chief (retired) of South Kitsap Fire Rescue in Washington State and is currently the Executive Director for the Washington Fire Chiefs representing 2500 fire service members and 487 fire agencies. He is currently a Director on the Center for Public Safety Excellence Board representing the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC).
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 International Association of Fire Chiefs EMS Section’s Director at Large and International Director, and also as the Vice Chair and EMS Representative on the CPSE Commission on Professional Credentialing (CPC).

Networking: A Focus of the Excellence Conference

Networking – those informal discussions with colleagues in the hallway after a stimulating educational session, for example – is the primary benefit of attending the 2014 Excellence Conference. By joining your peers in Henderson, Nevada on March 10-13, you have numerous opportunities to share thoughts about accreditation, credentialing, leadership challenges, general management issues, new products and services and much more.

The 2014 Excellence Conference features four focused networking opportunities:

  • On Sunday evening, March 9, join other conference attendees for a reception prior to the start of the IFE-US meeting at 7:00 pm. All conference attendees are invited to the reception in Estancia E-D from 6:00 – 6:45 pm.
  • On Monday, March 10, CPSE is hosting a networking reception at 3:30 – 4:30 pm for all conference attendees following the presentation by Mike Metro in Estancia F-G. You can also visit with the conference sponsors who will display their products and services.
  • On Tuesday, March 11, we’re serving a box lunch in Estancia F-G where you can continue conversations with the conference sponsors.
  • On Wednesday, March 12, Westnet, Inc. and CPSE are sponsoring a reception and fundraiser on behalf of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Bring your friends and co-workers and enjoy light snacks and enjoy drawings for dozens of door prizes as we raise funds at the pool area for the NFFF from 5-6 p.m.

2013 “Pass the Baton” Winner Announced

Help Raise the Standard of Excellence in Your Department

Fire Chief Jim White, Winter Park, Florida is the winner of the Center for Public Safety Excellence “Pass the Baton” program for 2013. Chief Steven Locke, Public Safety Director in Hartford, VT and Chair of the Commission for Professional Credentialing commented that, “Chief White is to be commended for his hard work mentoring his staff to achieve professional credentialing. Jim exemplifies the chief officer who believes in the value of professional credentialing and has worked to fully implement it in his organization.”

The program, announced during CPSE’s awards banquet at Fire Recue International in August of 2013 is intended to inspire the next generation of leaders in the fire and emergency services. Designated officers were encouraged to mentor at least one fellow officer to pursue Chief Fire Officer (CFO), Chief EMS Officer (CEMSO), Fire Marshal (FM), Chief Training Officer (CTO) or Fire Officer (FO) designation through the Commission on Professional Designation (CPC). Chief White implemented a program within his department and is being credited by the Commission on Professional Credentialing with 15 new applications for designation. Twelve of the fifteen were for Fire Officer designation, one for Chief Fire Officer designation, and two were for Chief EMS Officer designation. He gives all the credit for the group’s success in achieving their designations to the participants and their individual embrace of personal and professional development.

Chief White provides us with comments about the program in Winter Park and why it was a success.

“Thank you for making me aware that Winter Park Fire Rescue is being recognized with the Pass the Baton Award for this year. This is a department-wide accomplishment for our team as they are the ones who answered the call and my personal challenge. Mid-level managers in the fire service have been forgotten for many years. Company officers, shift commanders and other operational leaders, once promoted, are left to fend for themselves to develop their careers. I see departments continue to suffer from a lack of vision, objectives, and goals for these officers; Winter Park Fire Rescue was no different.

“To help my officers establish personal baseline performance measurements and help them set benchmarks for their career goals, in April of 2013 I challenged all of my senior leadership, company officer and above, to step up and apply for Professional Credentialing. I assigned currently credentialed officers, including myself, Chief Jimm Walsh, and retired Assistant Chief Brian Dean, to mentor a group of candidates and guide them through the application.

“With a deadline of October 1st, each candidate began completing the application and submitting them to their mentors for review. While most applicants found more than enough data and information to successfully apply for peer review. Others were surprised to see that while they had been officers for more than a decade, they had not kept up with today’s performance benchmarks for professionally credentialed fire officers. These individuals have set development plans which now include college-level courses, completing their degrees, and becoming more involved in their communities.

“At the October deadline, 15 of the potential 17 candidates had completed their applications with several already having been peer-reviewed and credentialed. I was very proud to recognize these individuals at our annual awards banquet in December and will be taking the first three awarded candidates to participate at Fire Rescue International (FRI) this summer. From a leadership perspective, I think the plan to challenge my officers to seek this level of professionalism has worked. Now, CPSE Professional Credentialing will become the expected standard. The process definitely rewarded those who have spent their careers continually moving forward, and defined a path for those who need a roadmap to excellence. Any recognition for this effort goes to the agency and the officers who answered my challenge to raise the bar.

“As I move towards the end of my career here in Winter Park, paving the way for the officers who will lead this agency into the future is one of my top priorities. ‘Pass the Baton’ should challenge all fire service leaders to mentor the next generation continually raising the expectations and levels of our profession.”

Chief White is delivering a presentation at the CPSE 2014 Excellence Conference in March highlighting the Winter Park program for professional development which incorporates the CPC credentialing programs. CPSE will personalize a brick on the Walk of Honor in CPSE’s node at the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation Memorial in Emmitsburg, Maryland, recognizing Chief White’s professional contributions. He and his officers will be recognized at the CPSE 2014 Excellence Conference in Henderson, Nevada in March.

Fire Service Accreditation – Why It’s Important Now

By Christopher J. Cotter, Commissioner, Commission on Professional Credentialing

“Because elected officials can’t see our results, they focus on what they can see – our expenditures,” so says Ken Miller, author of We Don’t Make Widgets – Overcoming the Myths that Keep Government from Radically Improving. While not speaking directly about the fire service, the author makes a point; elected officials often can’t see our results, so they look only at what they can see, the bottom line.

The very nature of effective fire protection often makes the results hard to see. We know this from comments by an uninformed public when a fire is extinguished in its early stages – either through aggressive firefighting tactics or effectively placed sprinklers. Statements such as “the fire didn’t amount to much” underscore a lack of appreciation – or understanding – of what actually occurred. On the continuum of fire protection, the results of effective fire prevention are equally difficult for the public– and elected officials – to see. The adage: “It’s hard to count bad things that don’t happen” holds true despite various attempts by the fire service to actually count bad things that don’t happen. For example, estimating the value of property saved at a fire scene may be an inexact method but is at least an attempt to quantify or “count” what didn’t occur. Unfortunately, there’s no standard approach to quantify that result.

Whether it’s the new economy or the new normal, one thing is likely; there will be continuing if not increasing public sector scrutiny. That scrutiny, driven by a scarcity of resources and a distrust of institutions generally, and government more specifically, will focus on results and in their absence, on expenditures. A skeptical public will demand transparency to better scrutinize institutions of government. Scrutiny of complex operations – like fire departments – is not easy, so that same wary public will demand a process that will assure authenticity. Transparency and authenticity are essential components of public trust.

Fortunately, there is a process to help the public and elected officials “see” our results. Fire Department Accreditation and its close relative, Professional Credentialing, provide the structure of transparency and authenticity so important in today’s environment. Both require a comprehensive self-assessment, an evaluation where “gaps” in capabilities may be evident, development of a plan for continual improvement and importantly, a rigorous review by a team of assessors that authenticate the process—and the result.

In the same book Ken Miller also said: “The less our value is understood, the more our funding is scrutinized.” The effort associated with Fire Department Accreditation or Professional Credentialing is not easy – nothing worth achieving ever is. But the benefits are considerable largely because it shifts the focus from funding to understanding. And when the public and their elected officials better understand the value your fire department – and you – provide to the community, you will have gone a long way to reaffirming the public trust.

Somber Government Jobs Report for 2013

Governing magazine reports that state and local government employment remained flat last year, still failing to recover jobs lost in the aftermath of the recession.

Nationally, the public sector job market of 2013 looked a lot like 2012. Most governments didn’t shed large numbers of jobs, but they didn’t begin to ramp up hiring, either.

Job estimates published last week indicate local governments collectively added 33,000 jobs last year, an increase of only 0.2 percent. State government employment also registered a meager year-over-year gain of 0.2 percent. The sector would have actually lost jobs last year had it not been for colleges and universities, which added an estimated 16,400 positions.

The steepest cuts to state and local government payrolls occurred back in 2010 and 2011 as revenues plummeted after the economy worsened.

The federal government was the hardest hit last year, trimming payrolls by 2.5 percent, according to Labor Department estimates.

While state and local government employment levels didn’t budge in 2013, most other sectors of the economy did expand, albeit at a slower pace than expected.

Last week’s jobs report signaled job gains still haven’t accelerated, despite positive reports the past few months that suggested the economy was poised for a turnaround. Preliminary estimates indicate the economy added just 74,000 jobs last month, the lowest tally in three years. Overall, public sector employment levels have remained mostly unchanged for about two years now.

New Resource for Agencies Seeking to Increase Diversity

Firefighter’s ABC’s are offering several resources for agencies seeking to increase diversity in their workforce. The website offers a “free” membership to the Firefighter Diversity Recruitment Council. To activate the membership, log on to, select log in and proceed to update your company information – thereafter your membership will be activated.

  • Complete the attached PDF
  • Membership must be approved by your department head
  • The department contact will receive a welcome letter via his/her email address
  • The welcome letter will contain the User Name and Pass Word

By joining:

  • You may make use of the monthly council suggestions
  • You may make free use of the National Recruit Database and add candidates via the D.R.I.V.E. Program
  • You have unlimited use of the site to post available positions
  • You may post other items of importance to your agency
  • You can place your membership logo and link to their site on your web site
  • You have free use of the F.L.A.S.H. T.E.S.T. to each NRD candidate you enroll
  • Plus other support tools and items housed on the site.

Firefighter’s ABC’s hopes that these tools as well as other tools on the site will support your efforts. They cannot provide every answer for every agency, however, it is their belief that using the tools will go a long way in supporting diversity within the public safety sector.

Question of the Month

“What funding changes have you experienced recently in your department and what trends do you see for fire department funding in your area?”

“Over the last 3-4 years our District has seen a steady decrease in equalized assessed value (EAV). EAV is multiplied by the tax rate to determine property taxes for the year. We have been fortunate enough to have some movement in our tax rate to help minimize any losses in our tax extension (the amount of money we receive from taxes).

Because departments are seeing lower tax funds, some have started to charge for certain types of service calls. We specifically have started to charge for vehicle accidents. Most if not all the charges are paid by the owners auto insurance. Last year we were able to collected almost $24,000. Being creative and looking for other funding sources will be the key for us to provide the increasing demands on our organizations.”

Ken Caudle
Fire Chief
Huntley Fire Protection District
Huntley, IL

“Our metropolitan statistical area is an anomaly. The Northwest Arkansas Metropolitan area, which includes Rogers, has been fortunate to see growth and economic development during the recent recession. Most of this luck is centered around the Fortune 500 companies that call our area home (Wal-Mart, JB Hunt Transportation, Tyson Chicken). Even under positive circumstances, our Standard of Cover has been instrumental in managing our agency to ensure efficiency. As an example, our city noted some opportunities to improve our Effective Response Force (ERF) travel times in our 2011 Standard of Cover. By using the accreditation model, we found that relocating, rather than adding, resources was the best way to address this response gap. As all of our agencies move forward, we will undoubtedly be asked more and more to prove and validate our resources needs. This is the perfect opportunity to educate our public about how the SOC and accreditation process fits into local public safety. Additionally, the organizational change undertaken by accredited agencies (or agencies aiming for accreditation) should recognize that the future is ripe with problems that require more solutions than just funding. Collaboration, efficiency, and ways to contribute revenue to our respective jurisdictions will only increase in importance during the remainder of our tenures. Whether our agencies have been blessed with a strong economic rebound or we’re still struggling to maintain our limited tax dollars, it is clear that we should educate neighboring jurisdictions about how the accreditation process can help us make good decisions and defend our talents to the watchful public. For Rogers, I know that we won’t always see double-digit revenue growth. Rough times will undoubtedly appear now and again, but our agency will be prepared, through the SOC and accreditation process, to present options and outcome-based consequences about any tough decisions we make.”

Thomas Jenkins
Rogers Fire Department
Rogers, AR

“The current economic climate has forced the reduction of staff positions within local departments. The City of Alhambra is continuing to see economic recovery within the business community and housing foreclosures. Group purchasing has reduced expenditures, as well as addressing efficiencies in all aspects of what we do. Administrative positions have been frozen for nearly four years. Area departments are all looking at new models that address changes in EMS caused by PPACA, and Standards of Cover to quantify our Mission, Vision, and Organizational Goals. Five surrounding cities within Region 1, Area C are conducting studies by third parties to address Mergers, Consolidations, and Shared Services.”

John Cermak
Battalion Chief
Alhambra Fire Department
Alhambra, CA

“The most noticeable changes in funding in our department are directly related to a general demand from management and city council to have greater accountability for how, when, and for whom the money is spent. Previously, funding requests for specialty teams and training areas may have been approved as long as they were under a specified amount. Now we have to be very specific about how each dollar is being spent, discretionary spending limits are lowered, and multiple vendor quotes have to be obtained for each item before ordering can commence. Though there are signs that the economy has turned away from the previous recession, tax bases have not fully recovered and the frugality this forced along with the demand for “more from less” has not. One of the largest funding trends in our area is the deviation from Define Pensions Plans and HMO/PPO health plans to departments now offering HSAs and 401Ks which are generally cheaper for the municipality to maintain and also allow for more predictable future costs.”

James E. Curry
Battalion Commander
Sandy Springs Fire and Rescue Department
Sandy Springs, GA

News About CPSE People

Mayor-Elect Lovely Warren Picks Fire Chief
Rochester Mayor-Elect Lovely Warren has made some more appointments to her incoming administration including a new fire chief.

Warren has promoted John Schreiber, CFO, who most recently was a deputy chief. He started with the department in 1989, and served in various divisions of the department. He is also Fire Marshal for the city. Schreiber replaces Salvatore Mitrano, who was chief for just over a year, and found out recently he would not be keeping that role, so he has decided to retire from the department.

Kerri Donis, CFO, Takes Over as Fresno Fire Chief
City Manager Bruce Rudd recently announced the appointment of Kerri Donis, CFO, as Fire Chief for the City of Fresno. Chief Donis has served 18 years in the Fresno Fire Department. “Chief Donis has demonstrated that she is an extremely capable and dedicated public servant. She has proven her abilities in the Fresno Fire Department of the last 18 years,” May Swearengin said. “In that time, she has served at every level of the organization, including interim Fire Chief since 2013.”

Technical Corner

CFAI Peer Assessors want to remind all Registered and Applicant Agencies to assemble a team to organize the documentation needed for accreditation. The process should not be handled by one or two people in the department, but it should be a team, group effort.

Do you have a technical issue that you want addressed in this column? Please send all suggestions to Tom Mawson, Business Development Director, at

From the CPSE Regional Consortiums

Greetings from the state of Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Accreditation & Professional Credentialing Consortium! We are meeting quarterly in different parts of the region and web casting the meetings to those members who are unable to travel. Our next meeting is being held on Wednesday February 5th in Fort Collins,CO at the Poudre Fire Authority. We welcome any and all agencies and individuals to participate. We now have 20 participating member agencies, with the recent addition of the City of Denver, Boulder Rural and the City of Boulder Fire departments, who are exploring the processes. Our region currently has 13 accredited agencies, with several others within a year or so of seeking their first site visit. The consortium continues to encourage our regional fire service providers to engage in the process of excellence through the CPSE programs of Agency Accreditation (CFAI) and Professional Credentialing (CPC). The consortium brings our regional agencies together to network, educate and support each other in an ongoing fashion. We are planning to meet as a group again at the Excellence Conference in Henderson, to share our experiences and to enjoy the surroundings and a dinner together.

    – Neil Rosenberger, Chairman

Shown is a group from the Rocky Mountain Accreditation and Professional Credentialing Consortium attending a program presented by Brian Dean and Rick Fagan on the history and overview of the Technical Advisor Program (TAP).

Upcoming CPSE Workshops

CPSE has several workshops scheduled for the next few weeks. 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 22, 2014
Self Assessment and Community Risk/SOC
Irvine, CA

January 23, 2014
The Puzzling SOC Document – Putting the Pieces Together

January 24, 2014
CFAI Virtual Peer Assessor Webinar

February 03, 2014
Self Assessment and Community Risk/SOC
Los Gatos, CA

February 04, 2014
Nurturing Fire Service Leaders Through Mentoring
Rocky Mount, NC

February 10, 2014
Self Assessment and Community Risk/SOC
Dayton, OH

February 10, 2014
Technical Competency–Writing to Achieve Designation

February 11, 2014
Fire Service Risk Management: A Proactive Approach

February 17, 2014
Self Assessment and Community Risk/SOC
Charlotte, NC

February 20, 2014
Credentialing: A Pathway to Personal and Professional Excellence
Charlotte, NC

February 24, 2014
Data Analysis & Presentation Using Excel
Northglenn, CO

February 25, 2014
Self Assessment and Community Risk/SOC
Rogers, AR

March 05, 2014
Self Assessment and Community Risk/SOC
Bellevue, WA

March 24, 2014
Self Assessment and Community Risk/SOC
Glendale, AZ

March 24, 2014
Self Assessment and Community Risk/SOC
Cumming, GA

March 27, 2014
Credentialing: Pathway to Excellence/Nurturing Fire Service Leaders Through Mentoring
Cumming, GA

March 27, 2014
When “Suck it Up” Doesn’t Work

March 31, 2014
Data Analysis & Presentation Using Excel
Los Gatos, CA

April 09, 2014
Data Analysis & Presentation Using Excel
Cleveland, OH

April 15, 2014
Self Assessment and Community Risk/SOC
Ft. Lauderdale, FL

April 22, 2014
Under the Dust is My Strategic Plan – Why Didn’t I Execute It?

April 23, 2014
Credentialing:Pathway to Excellence/Nurturing Fire Service Leaders Through Mentoring
Univ. of Akron

April 25, 2014
Peer Assessor Virtual Workshop – April

April 26, 2014
Standards of Cover Workshop
Conshohocken, PA