Evolution of the 9th Edition of the FESSAM

Twenty years ago, a group of thought leaders imagined a new system for fire departments to tell their stories. The system would introduce such terms as community risk analysis, standard of cover, and self-assessment to the fire and emergency service. This month sees the release of the reimagined 9th edition of the Fire and Emergency Service Self-Assessment Manual (FESSAM).

The new FESSAM guides readers through the steps and elements of the accreditation process, how to conduct a self-assessment, and how to research and collect information about their agency. The updated performance indicators are provided with a crosswalk to the Insurance Services Office’s Fire Suppression Rating Schedule and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives. The publications is rounded out with an overview of the CPSE and the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) and a glossary of terms.

Efforts to “reimagine” the CFAI accreditation model began in 2014. Rather than a simple update, the ambitious goal of the Reimagining Project was to consider every facet of the model and process and to ensure that it continued to push for excellence in the industry. Karl Ristow, CFO, CFAI Program Director, noted that the biggest benefit from the project was, “getting back to the intent of the accreditation process which was quality improvement through self-assessment.” A Steering Committee led by Chief Steve Westermann, CFO was tasked with overseeing the project. Mr. Max Baker, Chief Derek Bergsten, CFO, CEMSO, Mr. Rick Brockman, CFO, Chief Allan Cain, CFO, and Chief Jeff Piechura, CFO were also selected to serve on the committee. CPSE staff served as the project management team with four dedicated project leads considering changes to the accreditation model, the process by which accreditation is accomplished and maintained, the technology used during the accreditation process, and updating the community risk/standards of cover publication.

Mr. Jerry Nulliner, CFO, retired division chief from Fishers, Indiana, led the 14-member model technical working group (TWG) who in turn engaged over 150 subject matter experts to review each category, criteria, and performance indicator. The model TWG developed a first version of the proposed model which was published for a 45-day public comment period at the end of 2014. Speaking on the experience of leading the group, Mr. Nulliner said,” The challenge for me was to keep a handle on the input that was happening from the various technical working group members. They were all very enthusiastic about being a part of the project. Keeping track of the changes meant that I had to be a multi-tasker.”

A version of the proposed model incorporating changes from the public comment period was presented to the CFAI in March 2015 and was approved by the CPSE Board of Directors in April 2015. Development of the 9th edition of the FESSAM began immediately following. To bridge the gap until the publication would be available, CPSE provided a mark-up of the changes between the 8th and 9th edition and held five webinars on the new model.

Asked what he was most proud of upon publication of the FESSAM, Mr. Nulliner replied,” The technical working groups’ enthusiasm and desire to be involved at such an intense level. They were true professionals during this portion of the project. They all kept to the changing schedule while maintaining their regular job work schedules. They all showed they are true assets to their own organizations.”

A key new resource that has emerged from the reimagining project is development of an interpretation guide supporting the 9th edition of the FESSAM. The Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) envisions the interpretation guide as a living document providing insight into the intent behind performance indicators and core competencies. The guide will ensure consensus among the CFAI commissioners and will assist agencies, assessors, and workshop instructors during the accreditation process.

Ms. Preet Bassi, CPSE CEO shared that “By looking at the accreditation program holistically, CPSE submitted itself to a self-assessment activity” and we learned some interesting things. Reimagining the model and process has provided an excellent opportunity for CPSE to engage the community, enhance acceptance of the self-assessment model, and improve process efficiency. The success of the Reimagining Project and the publication of the 9th edition of FESSAM would not have been possible without the tireless dedication of CPSE’s volunteers. It was an honor to be able to recognize the model TWG members at this year’s awards banquet.”

Chief Westermann summed up the re-imagining process by saying: “This was one of the easiest committees I’ve ever chaired. That doesn’t mean that there were easy decisions to make. With over 900 public comments, [more than] 200 Subject Matter Experts spread over 4 subcommittees there was an immense amount of hours spent in writing and spirited debate over the draft document. By the time the final document got to the Steering committee, the Commission and then the Board, there was very little discussion left.”

The 9th edition of the FESSAM can be ordered from CPSE’s online store. Registration for the new Quality Improvement Through Accreditation workshops are also available on CPSE’s website. Look for the publication of the 6th edition of the Community Risk Assessment/Standard of Cover in early 2016.

Accreditation Bootcamp – What’s it All About?

Following the most recent Excellence Conference, CPSE staff reviewed the attendee feedback and learned that approximately 45 percent were first-time attendees and were interested in introductory/basic information about the accreditation process.

To address this request, CPSE has developed the inaugural Accreditation Bootcampto be held as one of four education tracks at the 2016 Excellence Conference. The conference runs from March 15-18, 2016 in Orlando, FL. Full registration and education schedule details are available on the CPSE website.

Six sessions comprise the bootcamp; the sessions have been carefully thought out to take a novice accreditation manager or agency starting their accreditation journey through the nuts and bolts of the accreditation process. The Excellence Conference educational sessions are arranged so attendees can participate in bootcamp sessions half the day and choose from Advanced Accreditation, Credentialing/Leadership, or general sessions for the other half.

Borrowing from his time as Fire Chief at the US Air Force Academy and Chair of the Commission on Fire Accreditation International, Ernst Piercy, CFO, will kick off the bootcamp with a session on “How to Get Started on Your Accreditation Journey.”Members of the Charlotte, NC Fire Department accreditation team and active peer assessors, Cindy Bonham, CFO and David Farnum, will assist attendees with “Building and Maintaining Your Accreditation Team.”

Tom Jenkins, CFO, CEMSO and Jake Rhoades, CFO, CEMSO, CTO, drawing on their successes at accredited agencies, will walk attendees through “Establishing the Accreditation Culture.” Rick Fagan, CFO, will share his almost 20 years of experience with the CFAI Accreditation Model, to demystify the terms “Community Risk Analysis, Standards of Cover, and Time Reporting.”

Brian Dean, CFO and Dawn Dixon will address “The Four Parts to the Self-Assessment Manual;” their time as accreditation managers and peer assessors will make for a very informational session. The bootcamp ends with the session “From Candidacy to Commission Hearing: Viewpoints from an Accreditation Manager, Team Leader, and a Commissioner.” Holger Durre, FO, Mike Stallings, CFO, and Steve Olson, CFO will recount the recent (and first time) accreditation of Poudre Fire Authority, CO and share some dos and don’ts.

In addition to 72 hours of conference programming, you’ll enjoy numerous opportunities to network with colleagues and to view the latest offerings in technology and software for fire-rescue departments. Plan now to enjoy a week in the Florida sun on March 15-18, 2016. Early-bird registration closes December 20.


CPSE Receives New Hampshire Academy Award

For the last twenty years, the New Hampshire Fire Standards and Training Commission has recognized organizations and individuals for their dedication and commitment to fire service education and training in New Hampshire with an “Academy Award”. CPSE was honored to be amongst a distinguished list that received the award during the November 5, 2015 event.

Winners of the 2015 New Hampshire Fire Academy awards.

Rick Mason, retired Director of the New Hampshire Fire Training Academy and former Chair of the Commission on Professional Credentialing, recited a proclamation about CPSE’s history, mission, and values as CPSE CEO, Preet Bassi, and CPSE Deputy Director/CPC Program Director, Debbie Sobotka, received the award. Accepting the award on behalf of the CPSE Board, Commissions, staff, and volunteers, Ms. Bassi, asked those credentialed officers and accredited departments in the room to stand and be recognized.

Chief Fire Officer (CFO) designees have the opportunity to apply for Fire Officer Level III and IV certification in New Hampshire by submitting a copy of their completed portfolio.

Final Stop on the 2015 CPSE Consortium Tour for 2016 – Iowa

Preet Bassi, CPSE CEO, attended the October 27 meeting of the Iowa Consortium met at the Cedar Rapids, Iowa Fire Headquarters. The Iowa Consortium pulls members from throughout the state and also the neighboring states of Nebraska and South Dakota. Approximately 25 attendees participated in person or by video conference.

Attendees represented registered, applicant, and accredited agencies as well as credentialed officers. The consortium coordinator, Dennis Eads, Fire Management Analyst at the Davenport, IA Fire Department, facilitated discussion on topics such as upcoming CPSE classes being held in the area, where and when to hold future meetings, and the successes departments had during their recent accreditation peer assessments.

During this meeting, CPSE had the opportunity to brief the consortium on important corporate activities and provide updates. There was a great deal of interest in CPSE’s information technology initiatives and the new publications.

Accredited agencies and credentialed professionals have found that banding together to form regional consortiums is an effective networking opportunity. CPSE staff visited with all consortiums that have held in-person meetings this year. Staff is developing a toolkit for consortiums to assist them in planning their activities. CPSE looks forward to once again attending at least one of each consortium meeting in-person during 2016.

Lenexa Hosts Beta Presentation of New CPSE Workshop

A beta presentation of CPSE’s new “Quality Improvement Through Accreditation” three-day workshop was held at the Lenexa Fire Department’s state of the art training facility November 9-11. Leading the presentation were CPSE workshop instructors Jerry Nulliner, CFO, and Chief Jim White, CFO.

Chief Jim White, CFO, addresses students during the Lenexa pilot class for the new “Quality Improvement Through Accreditation” workshop.

The purpose of the beta presentation was to allow students to experience and evaluate the new curriculum developed by professional instructional designers. The new curriculum is part of the project to reimaging the CFAI accreditation model and process. A total of 27 students participated in the three-day class and provided invaluable feedback to the course development team. CPSE staff and instructors were in attendance to facilitate the evaluation.

Feedback from this beta class isare being incorporated into the final version of the workshop. The newly-designed workshop debuts at the Anaheim Fire Department on December 2-4 with a second offering scheduled at the Auburndale Fire Department December 14-16. Multiple sessions of the new class throughout the US are open for registration on the CPSE website.

Designees in the News

The Golder Ranch Fire District (AZ) has selected Grant Cesarek, FO to join their team as a battalion chief. Cesarek last served as a fire captain with Rural/Metro Fire Department. He has been a Certified Emergency Paramedic for 15 years and a firefighter for 17 years.

“Grant is a strategic thinker, team player and eager to continue to grow in his career as a fire officer here with us at Golder Ranch,” said GRFD Chief Randy Karrer, CFO. Cesarek graduated from Grand Canyon University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Safety Management and holds the Fire Officer (FO) designation through the Commission on Professional Credentialing (CPC).

Chris Garrison, CFO, announced his retirement from the Lake Forest Fire Department (IL) at the end of the month after serving 20 years in the department. He will be moving Sun Prairie, WI to take over as the city’s first full-time fire chief.

Chuck Lauss, CFO, will be promoted from assistant chief to Fire Chief of the Peoria Fire Department (IL), at the end of November following the retirement of Chief Kent Tomblin, CFO.

Will Gray, FO, was recently promoted to the position of assistant chief for the Pueblo Fire Department (CO). During his 21 years with the PFD, Gray has held the ranks of firefighter, fire medic, emergency medical officer, training officer and captain. He has served as the department’s accreditation manager for the past two years. Gray is a peer team leader and mentor with the CPSE. He received his Fire Officer (FO) designation in March of 2014.

Latosha Clemons, FO, former fire captain, has been promoted to battalion chief for the Boynton Beach Fire Department (FL). 

“It is adversity that has brought me this far,” she said. “Becoming the first black woman to be promoted to battalion chief is significant for many reasons because it demonstrates that with hard work, dedication and perseverance anything is possible.”

“In order to rise to the rank of battalion chief you must meet the highest benchmarks in formal education, technical skills and ability, and master the art of leading employees,” said Boynton Beach Fire Chief Ray Carter. “I have watched Latosha develop from a newly promoted lieutenant 11 years ago to become a self-confident, dynamic leader who has the respect of her peers, her subordinates and her supervisors.”

Four Ways to Develop Your Leadership Legacy

Reginald D. Freeman, MS, CFO, FIFireE
CPC Commissioner, Representing Diversity

It is one thing to be in a position of authority and another to exhibit characteristics of being an efficient leader and/or manager. One problem that is prevalent in fire departments across the country, big and small, career and volunteer, is that being in a position of authority is often times confused with being a leader. As many of you have heard, time and time again, having legitimate authority is different from exercising leadership. For a leader to truly be effective, he or she must embrace the good, the bad, and the ugly that comes along with having the privilege to serve in a leadership capacity. As a leader, there shouldn’t be any thought into “picking & choosing” when you want to be ethical, consistent, approachable and proactive. That conclusion was made when you agreed to “serve” in a leadership capacity.

That leads me into the purpose of this article which is, “what do you want your legacy to be?” I once told a chief that as a member of his command staff, I wanted to ensure that I did everything in my power to secure his legacy so that he would be remembered as a proactive and effective chief. His response was a shock, “I don’t care about my legacy. People don’t like me anyway so what does it matter?” I think the chief was missing the point of what I was attempting to communicate. It wasn’t about being liked. It was about setting forth a framework and foundation that “tells your story” only how you can tell it. The chief said he didn’t care about his legacy and even today, those sentiments are prevalent. His legacy as Chief of Department obviously isn’t what it could have been or should have been. Let’s take a look at a few ways to adequately develop your leadership legacy:

  1. Understand & Know the Legacy that You Want to Leave
    Legacies are developed over long periods of time, similar to our organization’s strategic plans. Strategic plans are broken up into 3 main categories: Goals, Objectives, & Tasks. Before these aforementioned variables are implemented, they must first be understood. You must first identify goals that are realistic, attainable, and measurable when considering your leadership legacy. If your goals are realistic, your objectives are attainable, and your tasks are measurable, you will have a solid foundation to build your legacy on.
  2. Live the Legacy You Want to Leave
    As some may say, “walk the talk.” In order for you to be an efficient leader, you must have credibility and be able to practice “followership” just as natural as you can or are willing to exercise “leadership.” We all are familiar with the kind of leader that wants us to do as they say and not as they do. Furthermore, you can easily recall the feeling of resistance to any direction or position from that leader due to their hypocrisy. These kind of leaders do not live the legacy that they want to leave while compromising their credibility at the same time.
  3. Select Who Will Carry on Your Legacy
    Max Depree stated, “Succession is one of the key responsibilities of leadership.” When I first heard that quote, I didn’t quite understand it in its entirety. As an inexperienced Firefighter/EMT with no mentoring at the time, it wasn’t supposed to make sense; however, today the message is extraordinarily clear. As leaders, we must focus on ensuring that our efforts are solidified in organic and not ornate variables. In laymen terms, legacies live on and thrive through people, not buildings or objects. Don’t wait until you announce your retirement 90 days out to start sharing those things that you did well that helped you be successful as well as the embarrassing mistakes that your career barely survived. Share knowledge now…incorporate being a teacher/mentor into your daily activities. You would be surprised how many teachable moments you pass up (unknowingly) once you start paying attention to it.
  4. Be Sure You Pass The Baton
    In high school and college I was an All-American track and field athlete. One of the events that I participated in was the 4x400 meter relay. In any relay event, there is a specific zone that the baton must be passed in or the relay team will be disqualified. The baton cannot be passed too early nor too late, regardless of how talented the runners on the team are. One of my favorite quotes is, “there is no success without a successor.” Having an equitable succession plan in place ensures that there is leadership continuity and an opportunity for training and familiarization to take place while the leader is still there to provide clarification and insight into processes.

Operating in a self-less manner and putting the needs of the organization before the needs of you as an individual, is invaluable. This is the true definition of legacy…setting your organization up for success even in your absence. The Center for Public Safety Excellence, Inc. (CPSE) has a plethora of tools to assist you with developing your individual needs as well as the needs of your organization from a leadership and management perspective. From CPC workshops on mentoring and credentialing, the CFAI accreditation process that requires agencies to establish plans for improvement, and the Technical Advisor Program that can assist chiefs in developing a strategic plan for their organization, the CPSE has everything that is needed to develop and sustain your leadership legacy.

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.

November 24, 2015
Motivation: The Secret Sauce Revealed

December 02, 2015
NEW 9th Edition-Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Anaheim, CA

December 08, 2015
DOD ONLY: Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Jacksonville, FL

December 14, 2015
NEW 9th Edition-Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Auburndale, FL

December 15, 2015
Technical Competency – Writing to Achieve Designation

January 11, 2016
Data Analysis & Presentation
Charlotte, NC

January 13, 2016
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Southlake, TX

January 20, 2016
CFAI Peer Assessor Workshop

January 25, 2016
DOD Only:Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Fort Detrick, MD

January 28, 2016
Exceeding Customer Expectations
Apache Junction, AZ

February 03, 2016
DOD ONLY: Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Gulfport, MS

February 09, 2016
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Cincinnati, OH

February 10, 2016
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Charleston, SC