July Newsletter

The month of July often creates a sense of patriotism in the United States, with the country coming together to view itself as excellent.

Along that line, the Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE) wanted to highlight the theme of excellence in July’s newsletter. This month, you will find a story of how one department embodies and continuously pursues excellence, a list of officers who pursued excellence through achieving professional designations, a list of agencies who embarked on the journey of maintaining excellence through achieving accredited status, insight from our Technical Advisor Program (TAP), and a welcome to the new CPSE Board Director and Commission on Professional Credentialing (CPC) commissioner.

We hope you enjoy the July newsletter, and we hope it inspires you to continue to pursue excellence in all you do.

Quality Improvement and the Pursuit of Excellence: How One Department Embodies Excellence

The Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) pushes departments to achieve excellence in all they do through continuous quality improvement. But what exactly does that mean? What is excellence? Chief Micheal Despain, CFO of Lincoln Fire and Rescue, Nebraska (LF&R) talked with us about what excellence means and how his department has been pursuing it since the late 1990s.

Defining Excellence

“Excellence is one word but there are many facets to how it is manifested in an agency,” Despain said. The first: knowing current performance. “You can’t seriously consider pursuing excellence unless you are measuring performance or current level of service,” Despain explained. Second is reporting performance to the community to ensure the level of service is acceptable to them.

Despain drew on his experience to say, “excellence is a process where the public safety agency is investing time and energy into activities and outcomes the community values.” If the agency is pursuing a category the community has not expressed value for, there is no longer a pursuit of excellence. Instead, Chief Despain said, “it could be considered self-serving.”

But how does a department pursue this excellence?

Illustrating Excellence

Despain explained how LF&R pursues excellence in the field: investing time and energy to reach out to the community to gain insight on current performance and the level of service the community values as they move forward. “This was very valuable,” Despain said, “because we were able to develop various categories that are used as a type of barometer of performance that allows [the department] to continuously report our status to our customers.”

How is this done? A few ways, actually.

The first is the Vision 2025 graphic, which illustrates the level of service and outcomes valued by the community. The second is through an annual report, which is used to quickly inform readers of the department’s performance over the previous year in the categories that are most important to reaching the 2025 goal. While there are a number of ways LF&R report their performance, Despain said, “these two documents are the methods we believe communicate quickly and efficiently to the community and elected leaders.”

So we can see the process LF&R uses to pursue excellence, but what evidence is there that the method works?

“Our most notable examples of excellence,” Despain said, “is our cardiac survival rate.” With the onboarding in 2013 of Dr. Jason Kruger as the new Medical Director, who was intrigued by the latest medical findings regarding out-of-hospital treatment in cardiac arrests, LF&R chose to seek best practices from all over the country. From this, the department developed a series of strategies to improve the cardiac survival rate in their community.

“Over the past three years,” Despain noted, “we have seen astounding improvement.” He attributes that improvement to not only the department but also cooperation with hospitals, enhanced call processing, and implementation of the PulsePoint application, as well as community support.

“That’s great,” you may be thinking. “But what does it have to do with the fact they hold accredited status?”

CFAI and Excellence

“LF&R was one of the first accredited agencies under the CFAI beta tests in the late 1990s,” Despain said. He believes that is just one reason his department has had the ability to “invest in research and development to experiment more in the pursuit of excellence.”

Despain explained what the CFAI model is about to him: transparency and outcomes. “Within the CFAI model, we measure a lot of performance,” he said, “but eventually you report a few overarching performance criteria to your governing body and subsequently the community.” This, he said, illustrates transparency. The outcome involves the desire to work on improving areas that are deemed deficient and are of concern to the community.

“The CFAI model pushes agencies toward excellence,” Despain said, “because of that part of human nature and culture within the organization that does not want to let our community down.”

Continuous Improvement & Professional Individuals: Excellence in Officers

The model for the Commission on Professional Credentialing (CPC) is internationally-accepted and recognizes professional accomplishments and competence in the fire and emergency services. The process provides fire and emergency services personnel with career guidance and planning. There are five designations available: Chief Fire Officer (CFO), Chief EMS Officer (CEMSO), Chief Training Officer (CTO), Fire Marshal (FM), and Fire Officer (FO). Achieving any one of these designations indicates an individual’s dedication to their profession and continuous professional development. Chief Marion Blackwell, CFO Fire Chief of Spartanburg Fire Department (SC) and Chief Josh Waldo, CFO, CTO, FM of Bozeman Fire Department (MT) discussed individual professional excellence with us.

Excellence in Professionals

Chief Blackwell views excellence as far from simply an individual endeavor. “Excellence is the constant quest of improving your talents or qualities,” Blackwell stated, “to provide the best environment for those around you to succeed.” He carries this meaning with him in every interaction: “I strive to improve everyone that I come in contact with.” Chief Waldo supports this idea: “Excellence is setting the example of what professionalism should be in our profession while also leading and challenging other to grow and develop into future leaders.”

But how does this mentality of excellence translate to their careers?

“I am intentional with the pursuit of continuing education and training that is tailored to our department needs,” Blackwell explained. This desire to lead by example shows in his recent achievement of his PhD in Fire and Emergency Management Administration from Oklahoma State University.

He explains that his association with CPSE and the process of accreditation became his focal point for his academics. “I began to seek confirmation that the accreditation process of continuous improvements of departmental outputs related to improved community outcomes,” Blackwell said. “I focused on the core mission of the fire department, which is fire suppression.”

What did he find?

“The short answer is that a 10-year accredited department has an effect on community outcomes,” he stated, “and they are positive.”

Chief Waldo confirms that looking for challenges and opportunities to enhance the profession lead to excellence. “It is important to show others that there is always another challenge or opportunity out there,” he said. These include additional designations, trainings, higher education, and community involvement. “By remaining active and never settling for good enough,” he explained, “a leader challenges others to do the same to help make your organization and the profession excellent.”

Leading the Way

“I am proud to hold the CFO designation,” Blackwell said. “I feel the designation represents the culmination of a fire officer’s experience, training, and education.”

What advice do he and Chief Waldo have for others seeking designation?

“I would advise any potential candidate to look at the application early in their career,” Chief Blackwell stated. Why? “By understanding the requirements,” he explained, “they can groom their training and education to meet the designation’s expectations.”

Chief Waldo adds that setting deadlines and breaking the process into smaller pieces can be beneficial. While the packet can seem overwhelming initially, Waldo explains that breaking it down into components can make it seem less daunting. “From there,” he said, “establish deadlines for when you want to get each section completed to help you remain on task.” He also recommends seeking out someone who has gone through the process. “Having someone who has already been through it,” he explained, “provides some accountability to meeting deadlines and helps answers questions that may come up along the way.”

It is clear that excellence is more than a designation, but a way of life. So, look ahead – do it early and hold yourself accountable. You never know who you may be leading to excellence.

Agencies Achieve Accreditation in Charlotte, North Carolina

At this year’s Fire-Rescue International, 37 agencies came before the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) to complete their journey in achieving accreditation. This final phase involves a public hearing, a presentation by the peer assessment team leader, the agency’s fire chief, and a questions and answers session with the 11-member commission.

This brings the total number of accredited agencies to 238.

CPSE would like to recognize and congratulate the following agencies for successfully completing their journey in achieving accredited status:

  • Barking Sands Fire and Emergency Services (HI)
  • Beachwood Department of Fire-Rescue (OH)
  • Bristol Tennessee Fire Department (TN)
  • Broward Sheriff’s Office, Department of Fire Rescue and Emergency Services (FL)
  • Castle Rock Fire and Rescue Department (CO)
  • Charlottesville Fire Department (VA)
  • Clayton County Fire & Emergency Services (GA)
  • Columbus Division of Fire (OH)
  • Cunningham Fire Protection District (CO)
  • El Paso Fire Department (TX)
  • Fort McCoy Fire & Emergency Services (WI)
  • Greensboro Fire Department (NC)
  • Guelph Fire Department (ON)
  • Highland Park Fire Department (IL)
  • Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue (SC)
  • Kingman Fire Department (AZ)
  • Lenexa, Kansas Fire Department (KS)
  • Little Rock Fire Department (AR)
  • Loveland Fire Rescue Authority (CO)
  • Mesa Fire & Medical Department (AZ)
  • Metro West Fire Protection District (MO)
  • Monroe Fire Department (NC)
  • Naperville Fire Department (IL)
  • NAS JRB New Orleans Fire & Emergency Services (LA)
  • Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay Fire & Emergency Services (GA)
  • Oak Creek Fire Department (WI)
  • Olathe Fire Department (KS)
  • Parris Island Fire Rescue Division (SC)
  • Regina Fire Protection Services (SK)
  • Roanoke Fire-EMS Department (VA)
  • Shawnee Fire Department (KS)
  • St. Petersburg Fire Rescue (FL)
  • Village of Skokie Fire Department (IL)
  • Washington Township (OH)
  • West Metro Fire Protection District (CO)
  • Westmont Fire Department (IL)
  • Wilson Fire/Rescue Services (NC)

Officers Receive Designation in Charlotte, North Carolina

The Commission on Professional Credentialing (CPC) met during Fire-Rescue International (FRI) in Charlotte, NC the final week in July. During their semi-annual business meeting, they considered over 170 peer-reviewed designation and re-designation applications. Approval of these applications brings the total number of designated officers to:

  • 1262 Chief Fire Officer (CFO)
  • 119 Chief EMS Officer (CEMSO)
  • 129 Fire Marshal (FM)
  • 104 Chief Training Officer (CTO)
  • 400 Fire Officer (FO)

Technical Advisor Corner – Community Stakeholder Feedback

The 9th edition CFAI Model requires community input and feedback, which is important not only in driving agency strategic planning activities, but also in comparing agency Category 5 program delivery performance to community expectation. One question that we hear a lot is: “Who should we consider to provide us with feedback?”

The CPSE Technical Advisor Program (TAP) suggests identifying a broad balanced sampling of your community when receiving input. It is more important to have a balanced sampling of your community in gaining feedback than to have large numbers in feedback but from an unbalanced sampling.

The following are examples to consider in gaining feedback representative of your community:

  • Community business (from a variety of locations community wide)
  • Neighborhoods (variety of representatives from neighborhood, retirement, and/or home-owner associations from throughout the community)
  • Institutions (local hospital(s), assisted care facilities, school district(s), college(s) in the community)
  • Non-profit organizations (variety of civic groups, social service, and/or special interest/charity organizations in the community)
  • Local media (print, radio, television)
  • Key partners (automatic/mutual aid, law enforcement, emergency dispatching entities)
  • A sampling of recipients of a variety of emergency services from various locations throughout the community (within the past year)

TAP also suggests holding a brief meeting (or meetings) where community input/feedback is received in a structured way (in writing on instruments for specific categorization of feedback), rather than in a non-structured way (where verbal discussion or debate occurs). Also, it is suggested that no information about your department be provided in advance of the feedback session(s). This allows your agency to pursue the journey of excellence through gaining a “snapshot” perceptive of feedback about or for your agency without “training them in advance” relative to information you want to gather. You can learn what they really know, and what they really don’t know, about who you are and what you do.

Your community will appreciate being asked for their input, and they will better be able to see what pursuing excellence means and what their role is in the process.

Center for PublicĀ  Safety Excellence Welcomes New Board Member

In July, the Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE) welcomed a new member to an at-large position on the Board of Directors: Jim Pauley, President and CEO at the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). In addition, he serves as Chairman of the Board of the NFPA Research Foundation.

Before joining NFPA in 2014, Mr. Pauley concluded a 30-year career in the electrical and energy industry, where he most recently served as Senior Vice President, External Affairs and Government Relations for Schneider Electric.

Mr. Pauley has also served in numerous leadership positions, including chairman of the board for the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and chair of the High-Performance Building Council for the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA). He has received multiple awards and recognitions, including the George S Wham Leadership Medal from ANSI and his induction into the Engineering Hall of Distinction at the University of Kentucky.

Jim Pauley hold a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Kentucky and was a licensed professional engineer in Kentucky.

Commission on Professional Credentialing Welcomes New Commissioner

On July 1, the Commission on Professional Credentialing (CPC) welcomed Greg Rogers, FM as a new Commissioner. Rogers currently serves as the Division Chief of Fire Prevention and Fire Marshal for Spokane Valley Fire Department (WA). He has over 25 years of experience in the fire service, has a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Engineering Technology-Fire Protection and Safety, and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Fire Emergency Management Administration through Oklahoma State University.

In 2011, Rogers was the first person in Washington State to be awarded the Fire Marshal (FM) designation through CPC.

Chief Rogers currently serves as a board member and Vice Chair of the Fire and Life Safety Section for the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), as well as an IAFC committee member of the Fire Code Action Committee. He is also a past president of the Washington State Association of Fire Marshals.

Chief Rogers has assisted 15 local jurisdictions with sprinkler ordinances and has been a driving force behind sprinkler-related efforts in Washington State. Rogers has been the catalyst behind the formation of the Washington Fire Sprinkler Coalition, which was created in 2008.

Coming Up: CPSE Workshops

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 ourĀ Workshops & Events page.

August 14-16, 2017
DoD Only: Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Ft. Gordon, GA

August 29-31, 2017
DoD Only: Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Indian Head, MD

September 5-7, 2017
DoD Only: Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Scott AFB, IL

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