Quality Improvement in the DoD

Commissioner Tommy Thompson, CFO

The Department of Defense (DoD) has many mechanisms to evaluate their fire programs. Speaking specifically to different DoD component Fire and Emergency Services (Army, Navy, USMC, USAF, DLA) each has its governing document that supports the overall governing DoDi document. For example, the Army fire regulation is the AR-420, the Marine Corps- MCO P-11000, USAF-AFI 32-2001 and so on. The USAF utilizes the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) model to build the fire department inspection criteria for their program. This inspection is called the Fire and Emergency Self-Assessment Program (aka FESSAP).

Approximately four years ago, the USAF Fire Program started doing business this way and just recently their fire panel adopted the 9th edition of the CFAI model continuing this process for evaluating their fire programs. The United States Marine Corps has utilized the CFAI model since 2010 whereby the Commanding General of Marine Corps Installations Command ordered through policy for all USMC fire departments. The USMC has taken it another step forward and has aligned each chapter of our MCO 11000.11 to mirror the CFAI Categories.

The importance of the DoD supporting the CFAI process cannot be overstated. With multiple fire components in the DoD, all being funded through congressional appropriations, the CFAI process fits our DoD fire headquarters elements perfectly. A true self-assessment utilizing all CFAI categories and criterion, along with a published strategic plan, risk assessment, and standards of cover document fits all that the DoDi 6055.6 requires. There is other direction, such as Public Law 104-113, National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995, Section 12 requires Federal agencies to utilize standards adopted or recognized by the Federal Government and to coordinate the use by Federal agencies of private sector standards, emphasizing where possible the use of standards developed by private, consensus organizations.

Even before the USMC mandated following the CFAI model, I recognized the worth of going through the accreditation process a number of years prior. So when I became the fire chief at MCLB Barstow in 2009, we adopted the model and became accredited in August 2010. Although the Marine Corps Order does not make it mandatory to become accredited, in my opinion…not to have a PEER assessment team come to evaluate just didn’t make much sense to me. We opted to go through the entire process and were successful.

Here at Camp Pendleton, after my arrival as fire chief we adopted the model in 2012 and once again, utilizing the same way of thinking built our programs in line with the model, achieving accredited agency status in August 2015.

Let’s talk self-assessment for a bit…we all know this; the DoD is accepting more risk than ever before, funding is being cut and our operations tempo and levels of service are not diminishing. We still have the same mission to accomplish and if you are not conducting a 100% self-assessment of your department utilizing all CFAI categories, you’re not doing your department and its personnel justice.

I have seen some organizations answer just the core competencies of the model and be good with that. Again, in my humble opinion if you don’t assess all areas of what you do, describe how you do it, appraise how well you do it, and include an improvement plan, you may be contributing to higher up commanders making risk decisions for you without having all the information. Conducting a 100% self-assessment top to bottom evaluation of your programs is essential. Without it you’re just someone else in line with their hand out needing support for funding. Those who can justify their requirements, align it to mission, and show impact of not delivering those services can sustain periods of cut backs. Speaking for my department, I have obtained funds to refurbish multiple apparatus, acquired an additional truck company, remodeled a few fire stations, obtained acreage to develop a training area, received funds for a live fire trainer, and put in place a multi-level service contract to maintain and test/certify tools and equipment, all the while I have yet to take a cut in staffing.

What does a 100% self-assessment and accreditation do for you? This is what it has done for me and my department here at Camp Pendleton. Let’s be frank; as a fire department manager it’s our job to assess what we are doing and how well are we doing it by developing plans to bridge gaps in performance/programs. As DoD Fire Officers we are certified at the Officer 3 and 4 levels. Those competencies that we are certified at give us the know how to author a strategic plan, standard of cover, and risk assessment and give us a great foundation as executive level leaders to manage a department and its personnel. It really comes down to this; if you have not conducted a CFAI self-assessment, how does your command know where your department stands now and in the future in an uncertain fiscal climate when decisions will be made on cuts? Going through the assessment, I guarantee you will learn more about your own department and what other stakeholders bring to your organization in a support role. I certainly have!

We all like to think we are the best at what we do…prove it to all in your chain of command…roll up your sleeves and get to assessing your programs utilizing the industry best practice—the CFAI model. I am in a unique position as a fire chief of an accredited fire department and as a CFAI commissioner representing the Department of Defense. I see so many DoD departments taking on the journey towards accredited agency status and embracing process improvement. Yeah…it takes time, effort, personnel involvement, policy, management plans, union negotiations/implementation, and getting over barriers not tackled prior. If it was easy, anyone would do it…If you are dedicated to this craft, your personnel and to your command, take the steps and work the process, you will find that you are surrounded by very intelligent folks that are itching to improve the department.

In closing, this year I have started my 33rd year with the DoD Fire and Emergency Services, I have embraced the CFAI accreditation process because in my opinion, there is nothing that is more in-depth and that delivers holistically to a fire department and its community other than this process. I applaud the US Navy Fire protection component for managing the CFAI program for the DoD.

Workshop Presented in Italy

Recently, the Department of Defense (DoD) held a Quality Improvement Through Accreditation class at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy. In attendance were military and civilian students from Italy, Greece, and Bahrain. Workshops for the DoD are funded through a contract with the Department of the Navy for all the services. The contract also includes funding for accreditation fees and peer team travel.

Chief Ernst Piercy (Ret) was the instructor for the class. Ernst served as chairman for the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) representing DoD. Additionally he was the fire chief at the USAF Fire Academy FD and for Navy Region Southwest until his retirement.

Credentialing – What’s in it for me?

Dan Gaumont, CFO
Commissioner, Commission on Professional Credentialing

The Department of Defense is wholeheartedly behind the “whole-person concept” or as the Army used to say “Be All You Can Be!” This to me epitomizes the Fire Officer Credentialing Program in its entirety.

A fellow DoD Chief Officer asked me “what I thought the benefits of Chief Fire Officer Credentialing were.” My first response is that it provides that road map to become the “whole-person” Fire Officer. The most obvious benefit is it provides a single place for the fire service professional to find material of what it really takes to be the complete Fire Officer. It provides a list of peer reviewed skills, knowledge, and experience for being the effective Fire Officer everyone wants.

The days of just fighting fire are long gone. Fire Officers today must be able to deftly formulate, administer and solve complex budgets, personnel issues, and standards of cover for their department and community. All this while being an accomplished facilitator, writer, and speaker, as well as being involved with your family, department, community, and your profession.

The skills required include a well-rounded education, well-rounded fire service training, community involvement, and experience at leading and managing a company, a battalion/division, and a fire department. These skills and tasks are no different for Fire Officers attached to DOD components.

The key aspect of the program is also a hidden benefit as outside peers review your education, training, skills, and abilities. You have the benefit and experience of having a group of third party credentialed subject matter experts examine your credentials (education, participation, and tasks performed) to validate you have reached a level commensurate with your peers. The trend in both the public and DOD fire service is hiring and promoting well rounded Fire Officers to meet today and tomorrow’s challenges. Credentialing is the first step in that process. Being a credentialed Fire Officer provides you the benefit of walking the walk as well as talking the talk.

CPSE Welcomes New Volunteer Leader

The Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE) recently appointed a new volunteer leader to its Board of Directors.

Thomas Harmer, County Administrator, Sarasota County, FL joined the nine-member Board. The CPSE Board provides strategic oversight and direction for all CPSE programs. Mr. Harmer was appointed as one of two International City/County Management Association (ICMA) representatives on the Board. ICMA nominates a city and county manager to the CPSE board as a continuation of their support having been one of the two founding organizations that signed the Master Trust Agreement that formed CPSE.

Tom Harmer has more than 30 years of experience in local government, including nearly eight years as city manager of Titusville, Florida. He also served as Titusville’s fire chief, emergency manager and the executive director of the Community Development Agency. He previously served as deputy fire chief and emergency manager in Tallahassee, Florida.

In 1999 he was recognized by the Florida Legislature as Florida’s Fire Chief of the Year and in 2006 by the Florida League of Cities as a finalist for City Manager of the Year. He was also appointed by Gov. Lawton Chiles to serve on the Governor’s Wildfire Response and Mitigation Review Committee.

Harmer earned his master’s degree in public administration from the University of Central Florida, where he also served as the chair of the Public Administration Advisory Board and as an adjunct instructor teaching classes in local government and emergency management. He also has a bachelor’s degree in fire safety and engineering technology from the University of Cincinnati and graduated from the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program.

Harmer left local government in 2006 to serve as senior vice president of The Pizzuti Companies, a national real estate development firm. He managed the southeast U.S. office overseeing all real estate and public-private development projects in the region. Sarasota County lured Harmer back to government in August 2012. He was named interim county administrator in October 2013 and was offered the permanent post in February 2014.

CPSE Makes Three Stops on 2016 Consortium Tour

Over the last month, CPSE staff had the pleasure of visiting with the consortiums in Tennessee, California, and Michigan.

On April 28th, CPSE CEO, Preet Bassi, and TAP Senior Project Manager, Brian Dean, attended the Tennessee Fire Credentialing and Accreditation Consortium meeting. The meeting was held in Gatlinburg, TN in conjunction with the Tennessee Fire Chiefs’ Association (TFCA) Annual Meeting. Among the 60 members in attendance, were credentialed officers and representatives from accredited agencies. Chief Brian Goss, CFO, Fire Chief, Brentwood Fire & Rescue Department, coordinates this group and announced during the meeting that the consortium would become a section of the TFCA. Brian Dean presented a brief session on how to deal with change in one’s department and career using the accreditation and credentialing models respectively. Preet fielded questions from the attendees on recent activities within CPSE.

On May 13th, the Anaheim Fire Rescue Department hosted a meeting of the California Fire Rescue Accreditation and Credentialing Consortium. Chief Randy Bruegman, CFO, Fire Chief Anaheim Fire Rescue and CPSE Board President, led a roundtable discussion on how departments are preparing for accreditation and institutionalizing continuous quality improvement in their organizations. Chief Tommy Thompson, CFO, Fire Chief Camp Pendleton Fire & Emergency Services, and CFAI Commissioner, in conjunction with Deputy Chief Christopher Hubmer presented on the value of credentialing to professional development for an individual and an organization. Preet Bassi was in attendance and provided updates on the Reimagining Project and an overview of CPSE’s 2016-2020 Strategic Plan.

On May 19th, Preet Bassi and Karl Ristow, CFAI Program Director, joined the Michigan-Ohio-Indiana Accreditation and Professional Credentialing Consortium at the Detroit Metro Airport Fire Department. The approximate 20 attendees represented seven agencies from Michigan and Ohio. The meeting kicked off with co-coordinators, Captain Brad Brown, FO Grand Rapids, MI, and Battalion Chief Dave Dauer, Toledo, OH, inviting attendees to assist with representing the different regions within the consortium. Karl provided a training session on the relationship between Category II and Category V of the 9th edition CFAI accreditation model. Preet provided an overview of the CPSE’s planned information technology and education projects.

Accredited agencies and credentialed professionals have found that banding together to form regional consortiums is an effective networking opportunity. CPSE staff strives to visit all consortiums in person at least once annually and has developed a toolkit to assist consortiums in planning their activities.

Designees in the News

Michael Despain, CFO, has been named the Fire Chief of Lincoln, NE. He will take over his new role on July 18th. Mike has over 31 years fire service experience and has served as the Fire Chief of Clovis, CA Fire Department since 2012. Chief Despain holds a Bachelor’s in Management and Organizational Development and a Master’s in Human Resource Management. He is a graduate of the Executive Fire Officer program at the National Fire Academy and has been a Chief Fire Officer (CFO) designate since 2005.

Temple Terrace, FL, City Manager Charles Stephenson has named Ian Kemp, CFO, to take over as Fire Chief of the Temple Terrace Fire Department. Kemp served the past nine years as the Assistant Chief before being promoted. Prior to joining Temple Terrace, Ian was a battalion chief for the Fort Lauderdale Fire Department. Chief Kemp holds a Bachelor’s in Economics and received his Chief Fire Officer (CFO) designation in June 2013.

Olathe FD Recognized

The Congressional Fire Services Institute and Masimo honored the Olathe, KS Fire Department for best practices and innovative solutions in the delivery of emergency medical services with the Excellence in Fire Service-Based EMS Award at the 28th Annual National Fire and Emergency Services Dinner in Washington, DC earlier this month. The Excellence in Fire Service-Based EMS Award recognizes fire departments for developing and enhancing the delivery of emergency medical services.

The Olathe Fire Department was recognized for the establishment of its Mobile Integrated Health (MIH) team. With the support of local government, the Olathe Medical Center, and a number of local community partners, the MIH team is providing better treatment in the field for patients, thereby reducing the number of patient transports to emergency rooms. Through data collection, the MIH team is able to monitor the progress of these patients and schedule follow-up visits for evaluations and continued treatment.

The Olathe Fire Department is one of 220 accredited agencies with the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) and one of seven in the state of Kansas. Congratulations to the Olathe Fire Department.

Partners in Excellence – Congressional Fire Service Institute

Members of the CPSE staff took the opportunity to attend the annual Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) National Fire & Emergency Services Symposium held May 4th and 5th. The theme of this year’s program was “Making a Difference at the National Level.”

Over the two days the seminars featured members of Congress, federal agency officials and national fire service leaders covering a broad array of federal issues being considered by Congress or implemented by federal agencies.

The symposium concluded with the annual CFSI/National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) Town Hall Meeting: “Everyone Goes Home”. During the meeting Chief Randy Bruegman, CPSE President, presented a check to Chief Ron Siarnicki, Executive Director, NFFF for funds raised for the NFFF during CPSE’s Excellence Conference.

CFSI’s mission is to educate members of Congress about the needs and challenges of our nation’s fire and emergency services so that the federal government provides the types of training and funding needed by first responders. To learn more about CFSI visit www.cfsi.org.

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: www.cpse.org/news/upcoming-workshops-events.aspx.

June 13, 2016
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Covington, GA

June 20, 2016
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Olivette, MO

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

July 20, 2016
CPSE Peer Assessor Webinar

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