CFAI Team Leaders Meet in Olathe, KS

As part of the Reimagining Project kicked off in 2014, the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) received a Process Recommendations Report which outlined 30+ ideas for enhancing the process by which accreditation is granted. One of the key findings of the report was a need to focus on consistency among the agencies, peer assessors, and commissioners. The two-day CFAI Team Leader Symposium in Olathe, KS at the end of September was a critical step in achieving this consistency.

The event brought together 45 fire officers from across the United States and Canada, who currently serve as team leaders or are training to become team leaders, to receive training on the new 9th edition CFAI accreditation model and the recently-updated CFAI Policies and Procedures. The event was scheduled just before agencies appearing before CFAI at the March 2017 hearings, who would be the first to be heard under the 9th edition, were required to upload their documents.

Day one, team leaders received presentations on key changes and interpretation of new performance indicators, clarifications on community risk assessment/standard of cover requirements, and a substantial explanation concerning data. On day two, presentations covered everything from team assignments, document review, planning the site visit, through to writing the report. CFAI Chairman Chief Steve Westermann, CFO and Vice-Chair Chief Tommy Thompson, CFO closed out the symposium with a presentation on the commissioners’ expectations of team leaders during the commission hearing. The information from the symposium presentations will be shared with all peer assessors during upcoming peer assessor continuing education webinars and with all accreditation managers during upcoming dayroom discussion webinars.

A special thanks goes out to the Olathe, KS Fire Department and Chief Jeff DeGraffenreid, CFO for their exceptional hospitality while in town. Also, the event would not have been possible without the support of the Heart of America Accreditation Consortium and their coordinator, Chief Don Tinsley, who provided ground transportation for all of our team leaders to and from the airport.


CPSE Develops CFAI IT Spec Sheet

In a continued effort to support agencies as they prepare the required data and documents to conduct self-assessment and pursue accreditation, CPSE has developed a CFAI Accreditation Model Information Technology Specifications document (CFAI IT Spec Sheet).

The CFAI IT Spec Sheet is a compilation of the various items needing to be tracked as part of the 9th edition of the CFAI accreditation model. This document is not intended to be an exhaustive list of data points (spatial or numerical), records, or policies a fire agency may collect or maintain. Nor is an agency required to track each of the items to be become accredited. Rather it is intended to assist agencies when procuring IT systems or developing internal systems to ensure these systems are capable of collecting and reporting the data and managing the records and policies referenced in the CFAI model. IT vendors may also find the document useful as they develop and/or update their systems.

The CFAI IT Spec Sheet separates spatial data from numerical data and records from policies. For each of these items the applicable performance indicator is noted. Where applicable, additional information on the requirements for that item is also provided.

The document is available on the CPSE website and is therefore available to not only agencies already in the CFAI process but also those agencies that wish to improve their data and records management capabilities.

Registration Open for the 2017 Excellence Conference

Registration is now open for the 2017 Excellence Conference. Join us as we hold our first-ever conference in California, March 21-24, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Orange County, CA.

95 percent of attendees of last year’s conference rated their overall Excellence Conference experience as very good or excellent. We hope you’ll join them in seeing what this continually-evolving conference has to offer.

This year’s conference has something for everything:

  • Agencies considering accreditation will enjoy the Accreditation Bootcamp. Newly-appointed accreditation managers will also benefit from this track.
  • Currently-accredited agencies will find the SOC Bootcamp and the 101s of Data valuable.
  • Officers interested in professional credentialing for themselves or personnel in their department should definitely attend the first-ever Credentialing Bootcamp.
  • Any fire and emergency service professional committed to continuous improvement, progressive leadership, and achieving outcomes will learn a great deal during the 44 unique education sessions.
  • Recently-accredited agencies and recently-credentialed officers will be celebrated during the inaugural Agency Recognition and Officer Recognition Lunches.
  • Supporters of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation work will be able to contribute to the foundation’s work during the annual fundraiser.

Early-bird registration is $675 and closes December 23. On December 24, regular registration fees increase to $745. Registration includes entrance to the opening session, general sessions, all education sessions, three lunches, and multiple networking opportunities. The full agenda and further information about the conference is available on the CPSE website.

CPSE’s room block at the Hyatt Regency Orange County, CA is open. Room Rates are $179 per night (plus taxes) for a single/double occupancy, $204 per night for triple, and $229 per night for quadruple occupancy. To receive the group rate, you MUST identify yourself as an attendee of the CPSE Excellence Conference at the time of booking. To book on-line, visit: To reserve via telephone, contact the Hyatt Regency at 714-750-1234.


IAFF Formalizes Support for CFAI Accreditation Process

By Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell, Assistant to the General President,
International Association of Fire Fighters

The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) has a long history with the Center for Public Safety Excellence and its Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) and Commission on Professional Credentialing (CPC). The IAFF nominates representatives to each of these three bodies and actively engages with representatives from the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the Insurance Services Office (ISO), and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) to ensure that CPSE and its commissions achieve their mission of leading the fire and emergency service to excellence through the continuous quality improvement process of accreditation, credentialing, and education.

To solidify its support of the CFAI accreditation process, at their August 2016 Convention, the IAFF adopted Resolution No. 14, stating, “RESOLVED that the IAFF support and promote the CFAI accreditation process noting that it is not a validation that any fire department is ‘doing everything right’ but that it is a continuous quality measurement system.”

The resolution acknowledged that the CFAI accreditation process is a comprehensive self-assessment and evaluation model that enables agencies to examine past, current, and future services levels and internal performance and compare them to industry research. It went on to state that by conducting a community risk assessment, the agency can determine whether they have sufficient resources effectively deployed to address the risks documenting such in their standards of cover. This document can then in turn be used to identify whether there are gaps that may leave the community vulnerable to civilian injury or death, fire fighter injury or death, or property loss.

The resolution specifically addressed the importance of having labor representatives on both the internal agency accreditation teams and, when available, as peer assessors on the peer site assessment team. During the CFAI public hearings, several agencies have invited their labor representatives to join them as they sit before CFAI to be considered for accreditation. This united front amongst all members of the agency indicates to CFAI that the concepts of self-assessment and continuous quality improvement are institutionalized and that there are effective labor-management relations within that agency. The IAFF is preparing to train its members in accredited agencies, or in those agencies seeking accreditation, in the CFAI process so that these individuals may be considered for future roles as CFAI peer assessors.

Understanding that baseline performance indicates where an agency is operating at today and that their focus should be continuous improvement, the IAFF, in their resolution, recommended that the NFPA 1710 standard serve as the benchmark, i.e. the target for performance. It should also be noted that Category 2 of the 9th edition accreditation model refers to both jurisdictional expectations and industry research, such as is used in the development of evidence-based consensus-built standards like NFPA 1710, in setting benchmarks for performance.

CFAI-Risk, a subsidiary of CPSE, is also addressed in the resolution. CFAI-Risk has served as the administrator for a number of AFG grants over the last decade that have furthered the fire and emergency service’s use of data and scientific research in decision-making. The current CFAI-Risk grant, for which IAFF serves as sub-grantee, is for the development of FireCARES, a community risk assessment and response evaluation platform. IAFF encourages its local affiliate leaders and their departments to use FireCARES and other IAFF-partner-developed tools during their agency’s self-assessment processes.

The IAFF remains committed to the concept of continuous quality improvement and the role that CPSE plays in promoting this concept in the fire and emergency service and believes that their adoption of Resolution No. 14 will underscore their commitment.

Credentialing from a Labor Perspective

By Matthew Vinci

Labor and management must work together to develop high-quality fire service officers and leaders

Safe, efficient and effective emergency response services begin with proper staffing, adequate equipment and appropriate workplace facilities. But in the modern fire service, responder knowledge, skills and abilities, along with time-sensitive information, play important roles in the successful outcome of any incident.

Emergency response personnel must be educated and well trained to react quickly, but often they must also step up and lead their peers. In many professions, from education to electrical engineering, steady and continuous training helps professionals stay up-to-date on new technologies and innovations in the industry, allowing them to perform at the highest possible level.

Means for growth and learning
In the fire service, many departments are committed to providing advanced training and education, which is a critical step in making our communities safer and giving emergency personnel the stepping stones they need to be successful throughout their professional lives.

One of the best educational opportunities for fire service leaders is offered through the Commission for Professional Credentialing (CPC). The credentialing process develops highly trained emergency response personnel to serve as leaders on the fireground, as well as in the firehouse. Those who strive to ascend in the fire service must embrace education and personal growth, and the credentialing process offers opportunity for both.

From entry-level testing to promotional testing, firefighters and paramedics attend training programs and study for hours to prepare for the testing process. Officer promotions are essential to both helping individuals reach their professional goals, and to ensuring that fire departments have quality leaders in the communities they protect and serve.

CPC designations and the application process
I represent the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) on the CPC. The CPC offers five designations: 1) Fire Officer (FO), 2) Chief Fire Officer (CFO), 3) Chief EMS Officer (CEMSO), 4) Chief Training Officer (CTO) and 5) Fire Marshal (FM).

Achieving these designations requires the applicant to submit their professional experience through the designation process and meet specific requirements that are reviewed by the applicant’s professional peers.

Peer reviews can be intimidating; however, a full review of a firefighter’s educational achievements will better guide them toward personal success. The process is fair, honest and helps set personal and professional goals, which helps the applicant chart a successful career course.

The credentialing process overall is a great example of how labor and management can work together to develop high-quality fire service officers and leaders. Such a partnership rewards the public, the employer and the employee by developing leaders who are focused on delivering the most effective emergency services possible.

Opportunity = job satisfaction
Creating opportunities for upward mobility is vital to optimizing the future of our profession and is extremely healthy for a fire department. Why? It’s well known in the fire service that if employees don’t have opportunities to grow within their department, they move on to other organizations and often create attrition issues.

Developing leaders within an organization is therefore a wise investment for municipal government, because it can yield positive returns for years to come. But firefighters and fire officers need the support of their employer for this to be truly successful.

Needed: a support structure
Employers must not only allow time for professional development, they must also support their employees with a financial investment in this process. Employees who are pursuing a designation have a lot on their plate. Work/life balance both on and off the job, combined with increased responsibilities in the firehouse, can be extremely time consuming.

Several collective bargaining agreements in the fire service have clauses that address educational incentives and financial support. Having this support in place gives employees the proper foundation to get started toward successfully completing the credentialing process.

A jewel in the crown
As noted, credentialing improves individual firefighter performance, but it also adds value to fire departments in the eyes of local officials facing difficult budget decisions. A fire department stocked with well-trained and effective fire officers, firefighters and paramedics can become a point of pride for communities—a jewel in the crown—and can help elected officials show the value to the community—and perhaps dissuade them from wielding the budget axe.

It is essential that decision-makers commit to investing in human resources as much as in physical resources. Credentialing is a means to make that investment and ensure bountiful returns for years to come.

Matthew Vinci is the director of Education, Training and Human Relations for the International Association of Fire Fighters, a position he has held since May 2013. Prior to coming to the IAFF, he served on the executive board of the Professional Fire Fighters of Vermont for 15 years, with 6 years as the president, during which time he successfully passed several pieces of legislation in the Vermont Legislature to increase the funding and resources for training and education of firefighters in Vermont. Vinci served as a captain with the South Burlington, VT, Fire Department, where he started his fire service career in 1993.

Designees in the News

Virginia Beach Fire Chief Steve Cover, CFO, has been appointed as the new deputy city manager in charge of public safety. Steve began his career in Virginia Beach in 1980 as a firefighter and has served as the Fire Chief since 2007. During his time as Chief the department experienced an increase in staffing, opened four new fire stations and was accredited twice by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI). Steve holds a Master’s in Public Administration and a Bachelor’s in Fire Administration. He is a graduate of the Executive Fire Officer program at the National Fire Academy and has been a Chief Fire Officer (CFO) designee since 2007.

Clearwater Fire and Rescue has named Scott Ehlers, CFO, as their new Fire Chief. Ehlers most recently served as the department’s emergency manager. He has more than 35 years of fire rescue service. Prior to joining Clearwater in 2014, he was an Assistant Chief with Tampa Fire Rescue. Scott holds a Bachelor’s in Industrial Education and an Associate’s in Fire Science. He is a graduate of the Executive Fire Officer program at the National Fire Academy and earned his Chief Fire Officer (CFO) designation in 2014.

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:

November 01, 2016
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Kirkland, WA

November 14, 2016
Data Analysis & Presentation
Campbell, CA

November 29, 2016
DoD Only: Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Picatinny, NJ

November 30, 2016
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Castle Rock, CO

December 12, 2016
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Quincy, MA

December 13, 2016
DoD Only: Data Analysis & Presentation
West Point, NY

January 09, 2017
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Naples, FL

January 24, 2017
Quality Improvement Through Accreditation
Geneva, IL