CPSE’s Final Awards Banquet

Preet Bassi, CPSE Chief Executive Officer

On August 18th, 2016, CPSE will hold its 17th and final Annual Awards Banquet. This annual event has become a time to recognize the accomplishments of accredited agencies and credentialed officers. This year marks CPSE’s 20th anniversary, and as we look to the next 20 years (and beyond), we began to reimagine what our recognition program should look like.

Each year since its establishment, CFAI has steadily awarded accredited status to additional agencies and, in recent years, CPC has seen exponential growth in the number of credentialed officers at all levels. The ability to bring these officers and agencies together in a single location just once a year and meaningfully recognize their accomplishments has become difficult. Earlier this year, we surveyed officers and agencies on their recognition preferences and the findings overwhelming supported increased local recognition.

During their March 2016 meeting, the CPSE Board of Directors approved a new multi-tiered and multi-faceted approach for recognizing accredited agencies and credentialed officers that will go into effect in 2017. CPSE will implement this new approach at no additional cost to our agencies and officers. Some of the highlights of the new approach include:

  • Letters from CPSE to city/county administrators (or equivalent) notifying them that their fire and emergency service agency has achieved accreditation.
  • Letters from CPSE to senior management (administrators or fire chiefs) notifying them that officers in their agency have become credentialed.
  • Press releases from CPSE to state chiefs’ associations, IAFC divisions, and local media notifying them of newly accredited agencies and credentialed officers.
  • Designating one lunch at the CPSE Excellence Conference as the Accredited Agency Recognition Lunch and another as the Credentialed Officer Recognition Lunch.
  • A dedicated photo room for agencies appearing before CFAI at either the Excellence Conference or FRI. This room will give agencies a place to relax, celebrate with refreshments, and take photos with their plaque on their own and with the CFAI Chair.
  • An expanded networking reception at the Excellence Conference that, borrowing from the tone of reunions, will recognize the “Class of 20XX” of agencies and officers.

We will miss the Annual Awards Banquet. It is a wonderful opportunity to catch up with friends, new and old, as they become part of the larger CPSE family. If your travels bring you to San Antonio, please plan on joining us at this year’s banquet. We only hope that our new approach to recognition will allow a greater audience to learn of the accomplishments of our agencies and officers.

If you have any questions regarding the changes to the recognition program, please contact me at pbassi@cpse.org. If you would like to purchase tickets for the banquet, they are available on CPSE’s website.

CPSE Welcomes New Volunteer Leaders

The Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE) recently appointed new volunteer leaders to its Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) and Commission on Professional Credentialing (CPC). These new commissioners were nominated by the International City-County Management Association (ICMA). ICMA, along with the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), executed the Master Trust Agreement in 1996 that established the corporation that is today known as CPSE.

Mr. James Bourey, City Manager Newport News, VA and Mr. Stephen Riley, Town Manager Hilton Head, SC joined the eleven-member CFAI. CFAI is tasked with monitoring the process for fire agency accreditation and granting accreditation during public hearings.

Mr. James Hipp, Deputy County Administrator County of Spartanburg, SC joined the eleven-member CPC. CPC is responsible for establishing the requirements and process for gaining CPSE’s five professional designations. CPC meets six times a year to approve new and renewal designation applications.

Mr. Bourey and Mr. Riley replace Mr. Kurt Taylor, former County Administrator Charleston County, SC, and Ms. Linda Cochrane, City Manager Edmonton, AB on CFAI. Mr. Hipp replaces Mr. Chris Cotter, CFO, former Town Administrator Summit, NJ on CPC. CPSE thanks these individuals for their many years of committed service to CPSE and its mission.

James Bourey

Jim Bourey has been the city manager for Newport News since July of 2013. He is responsible for leading and managing city operations as well as providing recommendations to the City Council on the budget and financial matters and all other policy issues. Originally from Hanover, New Hampshire, he has served in local government management positions for better than thirty years. Prior to joining Newport News, he served as Director of Corporate Development with a relatively large Southeastern regional accounting/financial services firm and was involved in economic development and business recruitment activities throughout the region. Prior to that he served in a variety of local government management positions, most recently as City Manager of Greenville, and also held Chief Administrative positions with El Dorado County, California, Maricopa Association of Governments in Arizona and Hennepin County, Minnesota. He has also worked in public management positions in Tampa, Florida and Seattle, Washington. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Design from North Carolina State University, and two master’s degrees from Washington University in St. Louis, in Urban Design and in Architecture.

Stephen Riley

Steve Riley serves as Town Manager for the Town of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina; a position he has held since 1994. Steve oversees the daily operations of an organization that serves a resort island whose summertime population swells to three times its permanent population. Steve previously served as the Town’s Community Development Director. Prior to joining the Town of Hilton Head Island, Steve served in the private sector with a Minneapolis-based architecture/engineering as a Planner. Steve has served stints as the Planning Director for the City of Beaufort, SC and as a Planner for Beaufort County, South Carolina. Steve was appointed by the Governor to the South Carolina Planning Education Advisory Committee in 2005, when the committee was created, and has served as it’s only Chairman. A Credentialed City Manager, Steve is a past president of the South Carolina City and County Management Association; and currently serves on the ICMA Sustainable Communities Advisory Committee. Originally from Omaha, NE, Steve holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Iowa. Steve and his wife, Mary Jo, have four children and two grandchildren.

James Hipp

Jim Hipp has over 40 years’ experience in local government. He currently serves as the Deputy County Administrator for the County of Spartanburg, SC. Prior to joining Spartanburg he served in management positions in four North Carolina municipalities: Siler City, Tarboro, Lenoir and Concord.

Jim holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in Government from Wofford College, Government Executives Institute, UNC Chapel Hill, NC. He is a member of the International City County Management Association, the South Carolina City County Management Association, and a life member of the North Carolina City County Management Association. Jim serves on the Spartanburg Community Indicators Project Cabinet and the Northside Development Adviosry Board. He is the current Chair of the St. Paul UMC Pastor Parrish Relations Committee.

He and his wife Edie have two children and three granddaughters.

Accredited Departments Recognized for Creative Fire Service-Based EMS

Rocky Mount, NC Fire Department and Rockford, IL Fire Department were the recipients of the Heart Safe Community Award for populations under 100,000 and over 100,000 respectively. This annual award given at Fire-Rescue Med recognizes department with creative approaches to preventing and treating cardiac-related diseases. The award examines communities holistically and how they have integrated their systems to work symbiotically. Agencies must demonstrate improved quality of out-of-hospital resuscitation through bystander CPR; AED deployment; out-of-hospital 12-lead ECGs; 12-lead ECG advanced notification to the receiving hospital; or other continuous quality resuscitation improvements.

Since 2012, the Rocky Mount Fire Department (RMFD) has engaged in an aggressive campaign of AED deployment and bystander CPR training to improve sudden cardiac arrest survival rates in their community. The RMFD utilized federal grant funding to place 151 AEDs throughout municipal offices, and large private venues such as churches and restaurants. RMFD expanded upon these AEDs by providing bystander CPR training to more than 4,000 people at fire stations and public events. Since providing this training, the RMFD has noted an increase in bystander CPR at sudden cardiac arrests. RMFD has also developed strong partnerships with their community healthcare providers including EMS agencies in Nash and Edgecomb Counties and the local hospital. RMFD is led by Chief Michael Varnell, CFO and has been accredited by CFAI since 2008.

The Rockford Fire Department (RFD) worked through 2015 to improve cardiac arrest survival by expanding public education, implementing new procedures, and improving instructions from telecommunicators. Since 2004, the RFD has provided bystander CPR training to the community and encouraged their participation in providing assistance during sudden cardiac arrests. In 2015, RFD implemented an innovative patient care approach by rolling out a “pit crew” style of care where all EMS providers had predetermined roles at cardiac arrests. The RFD’s new policies also stressed high-performance CPR with little to no interruption and usage of q-CPR equipment on cardiac monitors. Lastly, all RFD 911 telecommunicators were re-trained to be more aggressive in encouraging 911 callers to provide CPR. Rather than ask if a caller was comfortable performing CPR, telecommunicators were trained to instruct the caller to return to the patient and follow CPR instructions. In 2015, the RFD achieved an Utstein survival rate of 46.2%. RFD is led by Chief Derek Bergsten, CFO, CEMSO and has been accredited by CFAI since 2011.

Peer Review and Professional Credentialing

Chris Christopoulos, CFO,
Commissioner, Commission on Professional Credentialing

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines peer review as “a process by which a scholarly work (such as a paper or a research proposal) is checked by a group of experts in the same field to make sure it meets the necessary standards before it is published or accepted”. This definition speaks to the heart and importance of the peer review process for all Center for Public Safety Excellence professional designations. Peer review allows for an unbiased review of all candidates based on a “whole officer model”. This model as adopted by the Commission on Professional Credentialing (CPC) utilizes peer reviewers that have attained a professional designation in the area they are reviewing. All applicants are reviewed by at least two separate peer reviewers. Candidate applications are reviewed in the following areas: educational background, diverse participation in emergency services at the local, state and national level; and demonstrated involvement in the broader community. At least one peer reviewer will then complete an interview with the candidate to fill in potential gaps in technical competencies or the application. If both peer reviewers sign-off on the application, the candidates name will move to the full CPC for a vote. Candidates who do not have consensus from both peer reviewers may have their application forwarded to a senior peer reviewer for additional assessment. The senior peer reviewer will approve, deny, or refer the application to the full CPC for a decision. Candidates who are denied designation can appeal this decision to first the CPC or lastly to the Center for Public Safety Excellence Board of Directors. The Peer Review process is a critical element in professional credentialing in order to maintain the integrity of the credentialing process.

170 designees volunteer their time as peer reviewers for the CPC. In 2015 they conducted 910 reviews totally in excess of 3,500 volunteer hours.

The Importance of Monitoring and Measuring Key Performance Indicators

Rick Fagan, CFO,
CPSE Technical Advisor Program Director

In May, I had the privilege of speaking at the Washington Fire Chiefs (WFC) annual conference in Spokane, Washington. Their theme for the conference was “Managing the Rapids of Change.” The topic that I was requested to speak about was Developing and Sharing Key Performance Indicators for Fire Agencies.

I did the required diligence in preparing for the presentation. I researched the topic of performance management, considered the history of performance management work in government, the military, in business, and in the fire service, but I found myself drawn to the focus of key performance indicators and their use in sports. Maybe it was the person in the kayak managing the rapids which was the WFC conference image used with its theme, or maybe it was the fact that, as an avid baseball fan, I was still remembering how the Seattle Mariners had just won a three game series against my home town team, the Kansas City Royals… but I just kept thinking about how much time, energy and strategy is put into the statistics and performance measurement in sports.

Whether its baseball, football, basketball, hockey, or even NASCAR racing, the measurement of time, distance, and outcome not only for your favorite team or player, but also for the opposing one is closely studied and monitored for a game plan strategy to win… and if a team or player’s performance isn’t going well with the game plan prepared, then a change in game plan is made whether during an inning or at half-time, or while in the pit for a tire change, and all based upon the statistical facts at hand. A strategic change is made for the purpose of performance improvement and a win.

It then struck me that all of this happens just to win a game or a race, and we get caught up in the passion of it too for our favorite team! Do we pay this much attention to performance measurement in the fire service? Do we measure our fire, rescue, or EMS performance action or time as closely or with the same intensity or passion? The fire service mission is no game. It is the business of maintaining our community’s life and property, and our community stakeholders are our sports fans. In most cases, we are their favorite team! So the question came back to light for me, what are fire departments doing to ensure that they have the best possible performance to accomplish their mission? For the conference attendees, I shared some examples of sporting performance measurement and success. Also provided were examples of current accredited agency usage of weekly and monthly key performance reporting, example use of dashboard key performance monitoring, and an example multi-community fire service benchmarking process utilized by some agencies in North Carolina.

When CPSE has a technical advisor team help a fire department with strategic planning facilitation, community risk assessment, standards of cover or self-assessment, the technical advisors press the agency to assess and measure closely its community’s unique hazards, risks, and the quality of the fire department’s performance. For a complete quality assessment, the CFAI accreditation model performance indicators should be assessed, but mission critical measurement and monitoring should be constant, not just once a year for an annual report or just for accreditation purposes. It should be done because of the passion and spirit for the fire department to continuously improve and to press for success in accomplishment of the department’s mission. The measures should be key performance indicators which are closely monitored, not only for quality measurement, but also for the well-being of the community that is served.

What’s In It For Us?

Brian R. Platz, MS, EFO,
Iowa City Fire Department 

The accreditation model boasts a process of continual improvement that ultimately translates to improved service delivery. Agencies that have embraced this process understand the amount of introspection and work it takes to reap the perceived benefits. At times, agency members might ask: Why do we engage in such a process? What has the process done for the agency? In these instances, a list of organizational accomplishments realized while engaged in the process can be a valuable tool to demonstrate past and ongoing success.

The Iowa City Fire Department started its accreditation journey in 1997 and since has attempted to capture milestone successes. While not a complete list, those successes have come in the form of:

  • An additional fire station,
  • A rebuilt fire station,
  • A station video conferencing system,
  • An electronic based fire inspection process,
  • A peer fitness trainer program,
  • An improved ISO rating to a class 2,
  • An annual data analysis and goals planning process,
  • Blue Card emergency operations program,
  • NFIRS data collection improvements,
  • An apparatus maintenance scoring process,
  • Automatic aid related to motor vehicle accidents, and
  • The creation or rewrite of over 42 policies and 54 operational guidelines.

Over time it is easy to lose sight of where we came from or how it used to be. Capturing our incremental improvements can help to clearly visualize the fruits of our labor, demonstrate this to be a very beneficial process, and allow us to capitalize on momentum to develop future goals and initiatives. Documenting a list of milestones and successes can provide the answer to the title question – what’s in it for us?

The Iowa City Fire Department is dedicated to providing its community progressive, high quality emergency and preventive services. Sixty-four full-time firefighters provide fire, medical, technical rescue and hazardous materials emergency response to approximately 70,000 residents in the 27.9 square-mile incorporated area of Iowa City, including the University of Iowa main campus. 

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:

July 11, 2016
DOD ONLY: Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Keyport WA

July 20, 2016
CPSE Peer Assessor Webinar
July 2016

August 09, 2016
DOD ONLY: Quality Improvement Through Accreditation

September 19, 2016
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Fairfax, VA

September 19, 2016
Data Analysis & Presentation
Fort Collins, CO

September 20, 2016
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Edmonton, Canada