Credentialing – What’s the Value?

Craig Hannan, CPA, Commissioner, Commission on Professional Credentialing

I have had the privilege of serving on the Commission on Professional Credentialing (CPC) for about a year. When asked if I would be interested in serving on the Commission, I possessed only a vague knowledge of the CPSE and credentialing. After some web research and visiting with CPC credentialed colleagues, I recognized the quality and values of a great organization and so was eager to join the Commission. Regardless of your position in the fire service, years of experience, or whether in a career or volunteer role, I encourage you to pursue a credential in at least one of the five available levels:

  • Chief Fire Officer (CFO)
  • Chief EMS Officer (CEMSO)
  • Chief Training Officer (CTO)
  • Fire Marshal (FM)
  • Fire Officer (FO)

For a new fire service professional seeking to further their career, the components required for each credential provide a great career path. To earn a credential, one must have the education and certification, professional memberships, community involvement, and technical competencies. For the experienced firefighter, the credential validates the work and accomplishments that have been earned during their career. For both the new and experienced fire service professional, the credential demonstrates your commitment to lifelong learning, training, and active involvement in the fire service. In a competitive promotional process, the credential provides a competitive edge and third party verification of professional competence. The value of setting yourself apart from other candidates can make the difference in getting that promotion or new position. The benefit of networking with other fire service professionals who are committed to excellence is an additional value of earning a credential. Whether through attending the Excellence Conference or participating in one of the CPSE workshops, the interaction with fire service professionals who share your commitment to excellence will bring ideas that will benefit both you and the community you serve.

These are just a few examples of the value of a gaining a CPSE credential. I encourage you to take a look and pursue a credential. I know I am.

As Reggie Freeman, CFO, Fire Chief at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, and fellow Commissioner on the Commission on Professional Credentialing states:

“The credentialing process affords any Fire Officer the opportunity to evaluate where they are professionally against an objective set of benchmarks. Most importantly, the process identifies the ‘blueprint’ for a holistic self-assessment to sustain excellence.” (CPSE Facebook page, 2014).

The Tip of the Spear: Accreditation As It Relates to the DoD

Department of Defense (DoD) fire and emergency services (F&ES) agencies are very similar to municipal fire departments in that we all must compete for limited resources with other government accounts.

The difference for DoD F&ES is what I refer to as the “tip of the spear” argument. In the DoD world, any resource driver that is not directly involved in war fighting is at a distinct disadvantage when competing for budget priorities. Base operating support (BOS) is generally viewed as a low hanging fruit by the budget managers in the Pentagon looking for efficiencies.

In recent years DoD F&ES has found itself in the unfamiliar territory of defending our value to the military and many of us struggle to articulate a persuasive argument for our expense. Many DoD F&ES managers continue to struggle against relentless pressure to shift scarce resources to the tip of the spear.

A funny thing happened on the way to the Navy comptroller in the late 1990’s when the Commission on Fire Accreditation International instituted a nationally recognized standard for process management in the fire service. The introduction of self-assessment criteria and a standard method of collecting data provided us the tools we needed to convince Navy leadership of the value of Navy F&ES.

Institutionalizing accreditation concepts of scope of services, standards of cover, and service level objectives, Navy F&ES has been working hard to collect and maintain meaningful metrics that illustrate our effectiveness. Today we have a modeled program that can quantify our response times, cost per company, and budget execution rates to a level that was unfathomable 10 years ago. We are, by no means, as good as we want to be at data collection but are definitely on the right path.

In a meeting discussing budget issues a few weeks ago, our Vice Admiral was asked why he placed so much trust in the Navy F&ES program; his answer; “because they have such good metrics.” That simple statement was a clear signal we were on the correct track with our data collection and analysis work.

Our budget model, based on the ten categories of the FESSAM, successfully completed the stringent DoD validation, verification, and accreditation process and is often used as a template for other Navy BOS programs. We continue to refine our metrics and look for other significant data points that will help us articulate our value to those focused on the tip of the spear.

Ricky N. Brockman
Deputy Director
Navy Fire & Emergency Services Programs
Commander, Navy Installations Command
Operating Forces (N30)
Washington, DC 

CPSE Accepting Nominations for Annual Awards

The Center for Public Safety Excellence is currently accepting nominations for the following prestigious awards:

  • Ronny Jack Coleman Leadership Legacy Award
  • Ray Picard Award

Take the time now to review the criteria and nomination procedures for each award and think about who you want to nominate.

Ronny Jack Coleman Leadership Legacy Award

This award recognizes an individual from an accredited agency or the Chief Fire Officer designation echelon for their significant achievements and/or contributions to the International Fire and Emergency Service (IFES) profession in the following areas:

  • Accomplishments (in mentoring and professional development, and can include the credentialing, accreditation process beyond their own agency)
  • Initiative (including helping others beyond their own agency through mentoring and professional development, and includes advocacy for the credentialing and accreditation process)
  • Technical competence (including serving as an instructor, mentor, peer assessor, peer reviewer)
  • Demonstrated Leadership and Mentoring Ability (including advocating professionalism, mentoring, credentialing and accreditation)
  • Additional achievements/contributions

Click here to download the award criteria and nomination form.

Nomination packages must be received no later than June 26, 2014.

Ray Picard Award

This annual award recognizes individual superior leadership and outstanding contribution to the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) and the accreditation of fire departments in the following areas:

  • Accomplishments (within the accreditation process)
  • Initiative (including helping others with the accreditation process)
  • Technical competence (including serving as a peer assessor, team leader or instructor)
  • Leadership ability (including spreading the word)
  • Additional Information

Click here to download the award criteria and nomination form.

Nomination packages must be received no later than June 26, 2014.

Award recipients will be formally recognized at the 14th annual CPSE awards ceremony being held Thursday, August 14, 2014 at the Hyatt Regency Reunion Hotel, Dallas, Texas.

News from CPSE Community

Columbus Appoints New Fire Chief

Columbus, MS – Tuesday, May 6, 2014, Mayor Robert E. Smith Sr. and the Columbus City Council appointed Martin Andrews Columbus’ new Fire Chief. Andrews had served as interim chief since Chief Kenneth Moore’s retirement in March. “This is something that I’ve dreamed about since I was a little boy. My mother always told me that I would be Chief someday. I just wish she lived long enough to see this day, because she always believed in me, says Andrews.”

Chief Andrews has been with Columbus Fire and Rescue since 1987, and was Columbus’ first African American assistant fire chief, taking the position in 2013, and is now Columbus’ first African American (permanent) fire chief.

CFO Takes Over as New Vallejo Fire Chief

Jack McArthur, CFO, was recently named the new Fire Chief of Vallejo (CA) Fire Department. Chief McArthur has 35 years of experience including 21 as fire chief in various departments, including Dearborn, Michigan, Snohomish County Fire District One in Washington State and Yuma, Arizona.

Push hard. Push fast. Don’t stop.

That was the message Saturday at the Kansas Speedway to kick off a collaborative program in the metropolitan area that officials say will help more people survive sudden cardiac arrest.

The Heart of America Metro Fire Chiefs, representing 72 area fire departments in the Kansas City area, have partnered with regional hospitals and ambulance services in Missouri and Kansas to teach basic CPR techniques to as many people as possible.

It’s all part of a program called HeartSafe Community. “A few of the communities were working on this program prior,” said Richard Carrizzo, CFO, president of the Heart of America Fire Chiefs. “Then we all came together. As far as we know we’re the first in the nation to (partner like this).”

Like Us on Facebook

CPSE has a very active Facebook page. If you have not already visited the page, please do so and “Like” or “Friend” us on the site. You will then be connected to a community of peers in department accreditation, professional credentialing, technical advisor facilitation services and our newest business line – accreditation of fire sprinkler contractors.

On the Facebook site, you can share opinions, react to professional issues, post photos of your activities and events, get technical questions answered, promote your department or simply share a laugh with colleagues.

Visit the site at:

Spotlight on an Accredited Agency

Agency name: FE Warren AFB Fire Emergency Services

Why the agency sought accreditation: We sought accreditation in order to give us a process that would help us truly achieve and maintain excellence in service delivery. Although the AF has an excellent self-inspection process in place we felt that it is still somewhat subjective in nature and that the CFAI is truly an objective self-inspection process that doesn’t discriminate based on whether you are a municipal or federal agency. The peer assessment provides an authentic “3rd party” external look at your agency from unprejudiced and experienced leaders within the fire service.

What was learned: We learned that as much work and man-hours spent on creating our SAM it was well worth it. We have improved in many areas that we didn’t realize there were flaws. We also learned that educating your entire department on the accreditation process is essential if you want to take full advantage of its benefits. A considerable amount of knowledge was attained during the commission meetings this past March, attending the hearings and listening to the commissioners was very enlightening, the workshops were also very fitting and informative.

Representatives from FE Warren Air Force Base appear before the CFAI Commission on March 12. Left to right: Team Leader Will Gray, Fire Chief John McDougall and Accreditation Manager and Assistant Chief, Greg Chesser.

What was justified: Within the same year that we became accredited our agency’s new fire station was funded. There were some concerns by our agency leadership about closing a fire station and consolidating our operations into one main HQ station. Our SOC which was reviewed by the peer team validated that there were no response coverage issues and in fact our service delivery would be enhanced because our ability to cross-staff different apparatus would improve substantially.

What change has resulted: We have applied many of the accreditation processes to our everyday business practices which has greatly improved two-way communication top to bottom and bottom to top. We do a much better job of ensuring our external stake holders are kept informed of changes we make and how we continue to look for ways to improve our service delivery.

John P. McDougall, DAFC
Chief, FE Warren FES

This newsletter will occasionally spotlight an accredited department in North America. If you want your department to share the spotlight, and lessons learned, contact Tom Mawson at CPSE, at


Technical Corner

When reporting emergency response performance data for accreditation purposes, why is a department required to document in data tables each of the previous three years emergency response data sets (five years for re-accreditation), and then additionally combine all of the reported years data into an additional column for a combined data review? 


The Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) wants to view emergency response performance quality at a 90% fractal in multiple data segments, and to view multi-year performance “trends” in measuring any improvement in any or all segments. The table column where the multiple years of performance by segment are combined is called the department’s cumulative or aggregate baseline performance. This column of combined years of data provides that “baseline” quality set that the CFAI considers when evaluating a department’s overall “baseline” performance.

See the sample below:

(Sample times. The agency must enter its own data relative to the risk and population density. The n value would be the number of incident points in that data set).

Submitted by Rick Fagan, Director, Technical Advisor Program.

Question of the Month

“How has being an Accredited Agency helped you to explain/justify large procurement requests to your city/county/fire district administration?”

“The City of Chandler Fire Department has been accredited since 1998. The best benefit to justifying large procurement requests is the relative ease of gaining approval since we can always tie the purchase back to our council approved strategic plan, which is required through the accreditation process, and site benchmark jurisdictions that already utilize whatever we are purchasing. Our City Council has grown to understand and expect that anything we bring forward will be part of the accreditation planning process, and benchmarked to other jurisdictions and standards. Putting the work in on the accreditation process allows the procurement process to be largely uneventful.”

Jeff Clark, CFO
Chief, City of Chandler Fire Department
Chandler, AZ

“Major procurements within the Los Alamos Fire Department are solidly linked to our accreditation model. Before these purchases are recommended to our County Administration, they have been internally evaluated with respect to our self-assessment, community risk/standards of cover, and have been included in our strategic plan. These major procurements do not come as a surprise to our County Administration. The potential questions we might face from our administrators have already been answered by our internal review and direct linkage to our accreditation model. The work we do to retain our accreditation allows us to quickly and accurately answer questions like; how will this purchase improve your performance?; and what impact will this purchase have on responding to or mitigating community risks? Accreditation provides the Los Alamos Fire Department with a clear map to success.”

Troy Hughes, CFO
Fire Chief, Los Alamos County Fire Department
Los Alamos, NM

The Mokena Fire Protection District (MFPD) utilizes the Strategic Planning process as well as the Standard of Cover process to assist in the overall justification and procurement of agency needs. Through these processes, the MFPD establishes general and specific goals and objectives to meet its long-range plans. These processes are utilized to direct the District’s priorities and resources in support of the adopted mission. Also included is a seven-year capital expenditure expense and operational plan in which specific, measurable objectives are incorporated. The MFPD Board of Trustees’ annually reviews and adopts the Strategic Plan as well as the Standard of Cover, which incorporates District goals and objective. The mission, vision and values portrayed in all published materials accurately portray the agency’s goals and objectives.

The MFPD has established a comprehensive management process that includes planning, policy administration/implementation, delegation of functions, control systems, and evaluation of processes. This process is utilized for the implementation and monitoring of MFPD goals and objectives. The MFPD utilizes the goals and objectives to drive the budget process on an annual basis. Service level objectives are developed that support the Strategic Plan, Standard of Cover, and Mission Statement of the MFPD.”

Howard Stephens, CFO
Fire Chief / Administrator, Mokena Fire Protection District
Mokena, IL

Hold the Date!!

Plan now to join friends and colleagues from fire departments around the world at the annual CPSE Awards Dinner on Thursday, August 14, during the IAFC’s Fire-Rescue International Conference and Exhibition in Dallas, Texas.

Watch for announcements about how you can reserve your tickets. Honor the industry’s best when we announce winners of the Ray Picard Award, the Ronny Jack Coleman Leadership Legacy Award and the CPSE Ambassador of the Year. Best of all, you will want to be there when we recognize all new designated Chief Fire Officers, Chief EMS Officers, Chief Training Officers, Fire Marshals and Fire Officers and dozens of new Accredited Agencies.

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:

May 21, 2014
Chief Officer Credentialing…Where Do I Stand?

May 28, 2014
DoD Only-Self Assessment & Community Risk/SOC
Goodfellow AFB, TX

June 03, 2014
Infusing Lean Methodology into the Fire Service

June 16, 2014
Credentialing: Pathway to Personal and Professional Excellence
Davis, CA

June 16, 2014
Data Analysis & Presentation Using Excel
Plano, TX

June 17, 2014
Self-Assessment and Community Risk/SOC
Davis, CA

July 14, 2014
Self Assessment and Community Risk/SOC
Peoria, IL

July 18, 2014
Peer Assessor Virtual Workshop

July 23, 2014
Self-Assessment and Community Risk/SOC
Buffalo, NY

July 30, 2014
Chief Officer Credentialing…Where Do I Stand?

August 04, 2014
Technical Competency – Writing to Achieve Designation

September 08, 2014
Self Assessment and Community Risk/SOC
Carmel, IN

September 15, 2014
Self Assessment and Community Risk/SOC
Alcoa, TN

September 16, 2014
Marketing and Managing your Dept’s Image and Reputation through the Power of Social Media

September 17, 2014
Self Assessment and Community Risk/SOC
Grand Rapids, MI

September 17, 2014
Data Analysis & Presentation Using Excel
Rockford, IL

September 22, 2014
Data Analysis and Presentation Using Excel
Los Gatos, CA

September 23, 2014
Self Assessment & Community Risk/SOC
Akron, OH