Preet Bassi Joins CPSE as New Chief Executive Officer

Chief Randy Bruegman, CFO, CPSE President and Fire Chief in Anaheim, CA, on behalf of the Board of Directors, has announced the appointment of Preet Bassi to become CPSE’s next Chief Executive Officer. Chief Bruegman stated, “Preet’s education and experience and her work in the international accreditation field and application of International Organization of Standardization (popularly known as ISO) standards will help to elevate the quality of CPSE’s own processes in the future. During the recruitment process Preet continued to stand out in her understanding of the challenges and opportunities that the CPSE is facing. We believe she has the leadership and managerial skill to take the reins from our retiring CEO/Executive Director, Paul Brooks, and continue to build upon the foundational core values of the CPSE.”

Preet Bassi most recently served as the Director of Finance and Administration for the International Accreditation Service (IAS) and managed the IAS Fire and Life Safety Department and Building Department Accreditation Programs. Prior to her current role she worked for the City of Anaheim, CA and the California State Assembly. She is a proud Trojan alum, graduating from the University of Southern California with a Master in Public Administration and also has a B.A. in Economics and Political Science with a minor in Education from the University of California Davis.

Preet and her husband, Maurice, look forward to relocating to the DC metro area. Preet said, “I am honored to be joining an organization that provides such great services to the fire and emergency service and look forward to working with the customers, partners, staff, and board members on continuing to grow CPSE.”

Preet is joining the team in the Chantilly, Virginia office on September 22nd, working with Chief Brooks during a transitional phase and will assume full responsibilities upon his retirement on October 31, 2014.

Save the Date Now for 2015 Excellence Conference

Each year the Excellence Conference gets bigger and better. This year’s conference will take place on March 17-20, 2015 at the Caribe Royale Orlando resort hotel in Orlando, Florida.

Early-bird registration for the conference opens on October 1. There is no price increase – registration fees have been kept to 2014 levels. But you still want to register early to save money.

Our venue this year is the beautiful and spacious Caribe Royale Orlando. Some might remember this was the location of the 2011 Excellence Conference. There are plenty of sleeping rooms, so everyone will be comfortable on the property and it’s only minutes from the Magic Kingdom.

Keynote Speakers: We have already lined up our keynote speakers – Billy Goldfeder, Loveland-Symmes Fire Department, and Dr. Dennis Onieal, Superintendant of the U.S. Fire Academy, and Tim Sendelbach, editor of Firefighter Nation, and Gordon Graham of Lexipol.

Mark the dates on your calendar now and plan to join your colleagues and friends for four days of networking, education and fun!

Steve Locke, CPC Chair, Talks About Mentoring

As leadership in the fire service frequently changes, the need to mentor the next generation of agency heads is critical. The requirements being placed on a chief officer today are much more diverse and without the proper preparation both the chief and the department will not be successful. While higher education and experience serve as a great foundation for the upcoming leader, having a mentor is an excellent way in which to learn and avoid the pitfalls many chief officers face.

The Nurturing Fire Service Leaders through Mentoring workshop that is offered by the Center for Public Safety Excellence is an outstanding way to learn the fundamentals of mentoring. This workshop explains the mentoring process and the benefits that can be achieved for both the mentee and the mentor. The workshop is a wonderful way in which to learn a new skill though discussions and case studies, and in the end will help the participant to have a more fulfilling career.

Speaking of fire service mentors, the CPSE family is preparing to lose one of the best with the retirement of our Executive Director, Paul Brooks. Paul was an early believer in the accreditation and credentialing model during his days in Greensboro NC and has spent the last few years advancing this cause. Under Paul’s leadership we have seen growth in all areas of the business, from accredited agencies to credentialed officers to a robust technical advisor program. Paul understands how to mentor people and make them succeed.

On behalf of the members of the Commission on Professional Credentialing, I would like to thank Paul for his leadership, guidance and most importantly his friendship. Paul’s steady approach has ensured every one of our programs has advanced. We wish him the best in his retirement; he has certainly earned it!

Plan to attend a 2014 Mentoring workshop – October 24th in Myrtle Beach, SC or November 6th in Miami Beach, FL.

News from the Regional Consortiums

Keith McGee reports from North Carolina:

The North Carolina Accreditation Support Consortium (NCASC) would like to congratulate our State’s 19th accredited agency, Shelby Fire and Rescue Department. We would also like to relay our congratulations to all other newly accredited agencies as well as those that received re-accredited status.

As believers in utilizing a support network for assisting agencies with their pursuit of continuous improvement, we continue to build on the subject matter covered during NCASC presentations. At our most recent meeting, Maria Ratliff from Durham Fire Department spoke on the topic of “Talent Development”, which served to provide some concepts on effectively investing into any department’s most valuable resource, our people. It was a truly outstanding presentation that served to shine a focused light into an area that sometimes can be taken for granted.

Neil Rosenberger reports from Colorado:

  • Our Rocky Mountain Consortium is meeting October 28th at West Metro Fire in Lakewood, Colorado. We will be streaming the meeting that day from 09:00 -12:00 Mountain Time and would like to invite anyone wishing to virtually attend or attend in person. Please send Neil Rosenberger an email if you’d like to attend.
  • Rocky Mountain Accreditation and Professional Credentialing Consortium is proud to announce its first official member from outside of Colorado. A hearty welcome to Glendale, Arizona Fire Department, represented by, Accreditation Manager Sandy Van Winkle!
  • Aurora, Colorado Fire Department is in the process for their third reaccreditation this cycle.
  • Poudre Fire Authority, Fort Collins, Colorado is on track for their first bid for accreditation in August 2015.

Good to Know: Tips from the CFAI Commissioners

During a recent “Round Table Discussion” webinar Chairman Alan Cain was asked if it would be possible for agencies slated to appear before the Commission to receive the questions the Commissioners intended to ask in advance of the hearing to allow the agency to prepare answers. The reply was “no.” The longer answer is the Commission members do not discuss what specific questions they intend to ask during the hearings. There may be a general discussion regarding elements of a final report submitted by the Peer Assessor Team and questions for the Technical Review staff but many of the questions flow from the conversation with the agency during the hearing.

The Commission reviews the entire report and the recommendations developed by the Peer Team members, relying upon them to act as the “eyes and ears” of the Commission while on-site, and providing an independent and unbiased evaluation of the agency. As such, all areas of the report are open to questions to help clarify the intent of the Team and more importantly, understand how the agency functions. There are however, certain topics that may see more questioning than others. Here are some observations to consider and are based on the last two Commission hearings:


  • Is the data credible? When asked during the hearing, one agency head said the data may not be credible due to the difficulty the staff had in gathering the information from their RMS. Individual data cells that sharply increase or decrease from year to year may cause questions if not from the Commission, certainly by the Peer Team.
  • First-time agencies are expected to provide three years of data showing minutes and seconds.
  • Re-accrediting agencies are expected to have five years of data showing minutes and seconds. If a change is made due to a new RMS during the five-year period, the agency should report response data using both software packages and simply identify when the changeover occurred.
  • Is the data consistent with the best practice data ranges shown on pages 70-71 in the FESSAM? First-time agencies are given more latitude in meeting these measures and re-accrediting agencies are expected to show improvement in some area of the response time continuum.
  • Is a plan in place for correcting or improving the response time continuum if parts of it exceed the best practice measures?
  • A developing change in the data reported to the Teams and Commission is the inclusion of the number of incidents analyzed for each part of the continuum: Call Handling, Turnout, Travel, and Total Response Time. Ideally this number will be either the same for all four reporting areas as the agency is examining only those incidents where the full ERF is assembled on-scene or gradually decrease as one reads from the top to the bottom of the chart. The later occurs when, as an example, incidents dispatched as a structure fire are stepped-down as new information indicates the incident is of lesser consequence than that of a working structural incident. As such the full ERF may not be reached on scene and some units may not even leave the station. Either method of reporting is acceptable however, it has been noted the number of incidents evaluated for the four areas for some agencies increase and/or decrease from one cell to the next without explanation as one reads down the table.

Critical Tasking and Staffing

  • Does the on-duty staffing allow the agency to meet its stated baseline ERF objective without automatic or mutual aid? The staffing information provided in the first paragraph of the report for performance indicators 5A.1, 5E.1, 5F.1, 5G.1 should support the baseline statements provided later in each category. As an example if an agency sends three engines and one truck to a structure fire with three people on each vehicle and has a stated ERF of 15 were does the balance of the staffing come from?
  • If the agency relies on automatic or mutual aid to reach the stated baseline ERF objective, are those units included in the data reported by the agency? If not, why aren’t they? In absence of that information, how was the Team able to verify the use of those aid units?
  • How was the critical tasking level determined? By past practice, national research data, or practical evolutions conducted by the agency? Can the number of identified tasks be effectively handled by the responding ERF? In general, the lower the number of responding personnel in the ERF the greater number of questions that may come from the Commission. The Commission is mindful of the principle that the authority having jurisdiction should determine the level of resources that responds to a given incident. However, a balance must be struck between the number of available resources, their ability to accomplish the critical tasking objectives, and their safety.

Baseline Response Performance Statements

  • The lists of tasks performed by the first-due unit should be accurately reported in the statement. The template language is intended to be inclusive of a number of tasks that may or may not be handled by that agency’s first-due resource. The language should be edited to describe what the agency actually does.


  • The Commission has asked for information from each agency that describes how incident scene safety is managed. Specifically, who is responsible, from start to finish, on an incident? If the agency relies on automatic aid, is a common radio frequency used by all companies on the scene? Do the companies operate from a common set of procedures?

The Commission on Fire Accreditation International will continually work to improve the process used by the agencies seeking to be accredited, the teams that perform the field evaluations, and the Commission in its deliberations. In the words of Steve Jobs, “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” CFAI will always seek ways to redefine and improve our own yardstick; both in how we lead our organization and in the way our agencies serve their residents.

By Commissioner Steve Olson, CFO, Fire Chief, Geneva Fire Department, IL

News from the CPSE Community

Poudre Rolls Out New Apparatus

Poudre Fire Authority, an Applicant Agency, this week unveiled the latest engine in its fleet to protect Fort Collins, Colorado, but it’s not your standard piece of firefighting equipment. Their new “green” fire engine is more fuel efficient and is projected to save more than 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel — approximately $3,500 — each year. The engine includes “Green Star Idle Reduction Technology” that shuts unnecessary systems down when on scene and when the fire pump is not being used. A lithium battery also supports all electronic components, authorities said in a news release.

A ceremony Thursday, Sept. 11 dedicated the engine to retired PFA Fire Chief John Mulligan. The engine is being housed at Poudre’s Fire Station 10.

Plano FD Hosts Home Fire Sprinkler Demo

NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative reports that Plano (TX) Fire-Rescue, an Accredited Agency, staged a side-by-side residential fire sprinkler demonstration on Saturday, September 20, during the Plano Balloon Festival.

The event demonstrated the powerful role residential fire sprinklers play in controlling home fires. The demonstration compared two bedroom fires: one fitted with fire sprinklers, the other without. “Residential fire sprinklers provide valuable time to escape a fire and save belongings,” says Fire Marshal David Kerr. “The demonstration shows the speed of fire growth with today’s modern combustible furnishings and how residential fire sprinklers fight the fire well before the arrival of firefighters.”

To date, Plano has experienced 97 residential fire sprinkler saves. Across the US, 85 percent of all fire deaths occur in residences. In a home with fire sprinklers, the average property loss per fire is cut by about 70% compared to fires where there are no sprinklers.

Chief Jack McElfish, CFO Retiring

Following a 51-year career in the fire service, Chief Jack McElfish, CFO, will retire next month. He has served in the role of Fire Chief for the past 33 years. He joined the city of Sandy Springs in July 2006 when he was tasked with creating a full service Fire and Rescue Department. The department became operational on January 1, 2007. Chief McElfish was an America Burning Re-commissioned Commissioner in 1999, IAFC Professional development Committee member for 10 years, serving as chairman for three years, NFPA Technical Committee member for Professional Qualifications for Fire Service Instructor (NFPA 1041) for 17 years, IAFC Board member for 15 years representing the Southeastern Division, and has shown distinguished service to many other professional and community programs including both Boy Scouts and Rotary.

Chief McElfish was one of 17 fire service professionals to participate in the Chief Fire Officer (CFO) designation beta test group and received his designated status on August 23, 2000.

Congratulations and Best Wishes to Chief McElfish!

Visited the CPSE Facebook Page Lately?

CPSE is proud of its “face” on Facebook. But we want everyone in and out of the CPSE community to enjoy the updates on what’s happening in the organization. When you “like” us on our Facebook page, you will automatically receive notifications of updates to the page. Updates include photos about people in the firefighting profession, latest developments at Accredited Departments, announcements about Designated Officers, industry outreach efforts and much more.

Go to the CPSE Facebook page at:

You can contribute your news to the site. Just contact the CPSE office with your announcements and photos and we’ll get them posted to the Facebook page.

Labor’s Critical Role in Accreditation

The Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE) and the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) demonstrate their commitment to quality and excellence within the fire service by partnering with all stakeholders within the fire industry — including labor. As one example, there are designated seats on both the CPSE Board and the CFAI for labor. This commitment to include all relevant stakeholders extends to the advice they give candidate departments and to the Peer Assessor Teams they send onsite for departmental reviews. The stakeholder partnerships that include labor not only depict the commitment to the cause but also help build stronger labor-management relations at the departmental level which can translate into full buy-in to the overall continuous quality improvement process that is Accreditation.

In the past few years, the IAFF has been an integral part of the advancement of the accreditation process by providing funding for curriculum development for the self-assessment, peer assessor and the Standards of Cover workshops. This funding enabled these CFAI workshops to move from PowerPoint presentations to fully interactive curricula that make the learning process an experience rather than a lecture. Additionally, the IAFF is a key partner in the ongoing research associated with the CFAI-Risk. With grant awards for nearly $8 Million from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through the Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG), CFAI and its partner organizations continue to conduct landmark research. See This research has and will continue to contribute in many areas of the accreditation process.

In addition to the work described above, the IAFF has also identified and appointed field service representatives to be trained as peer assessors to assure a cache of qualified individuals are available to act as labor representatives on peer teams assigned to candidate departments.

The IAFF is committed to the Accreditation process and the promotion of quality and excellence in all aspects of the fire service. This commitment comes from the assurance of integrity and transparency throughout the accreditation process and the dedication of all stakeholders to safe, efficient and effective operations.

Contributed by Lori Moore-Merrell, DrPH, MPH,EMT-P
Assistant to the General President, IAFF

Question of the Month

“How has the Accreditation Process Affected Labor/Management Relations Within My Department?”

“As an Accredited Department since 2005 and still the only New York State Department to hold that distinction, I believe that the process has built pride in the rank and file while at the same time it has been a process that they have embraced because it validates what we do every day. There is a real sense of teamwork from the Chief Officers to the newest of members working on the year long process of getting ready for the next five years. Right now, as we move towards our third accreditation, there is a combination of officers and firefighters working weekly on the process. I keep hearing that a department doesn’t have the personnel or time to go through the process and my response to them is, how do you not have the time to validate what you do on a daily basis? The public expects it today and I know first-hand that the completed process and documents have done nothing but helped my department and garnered more public support than any department around us.”

Harold Phillips, CFO
Chief, Ridge Road Fire District
Rochester, NY

Becoming a Peer Assessor: What’s In It For You?

In my role as an instructor for the Peer Assessor course I have been asked on a number of occasions why someone should be active as a peer assessor with the Commission on Fire Accreditation International. What are some of the advantages that can be taken from the experience of serving as a peer assessor? I usually answer the question for the person asking but often wonder how many people wonder the same thing and never ask? The obvious answer to that question if you are the accreditation manager of a department that is currently accredited or seeking accreditation is that it is required for you to attend the course. Beyond that there are several reasons I can share with you.

The main reason beyond being required is that without peer assessors the process would not happen. By volunteering to be a peer assessor you are allowing the process to expand beyond the current system that is in place. Each year new departments become accredited and the number will continue to grow. The volunteers that go out and act as the eyes and the ears of the commission are the backbone of the process, or proocess depending on where you are located. Without your support of the process it would be very difficult to keep the system performing at its current level. In addition the quickest way to learn about the parts of accreditation you don’t understand is to go out on a site visit and learn from peer assessors who do understand these areas. The mentoring and coaching aspect of the peer assessment process is integral in developing a solid core of peer assessors. The knowledge that is available from the cadre that makes up the peer assessment group of CFAI is a wealth of knowledge that each and every one of us should tap when we have the opportunity. In addition your unique knowledge in certain areas will be a valuable addition to the teams that you are assigned. The final positive that I would like to point out is the fact that by traveling all over the world doing accreditations you will most likely pick up a better or alternative way of doing certain things that will not only benefit you but possibly your entire department.

I hope this sheds some light on a few advantages that you can experience while participating as a peer assessor for CFAI. Come out and support the process that you have chosen to be a part of, and help improve the fire service along the way.

By Scott Avery, Fire Chief, Olivette, MO

Host a Workshop and Earn Free Registrations

CPSE staff is looking for destinations for onsite workshops in 2015. Karl Ristow, CFO, CFAI Director, is looking for several locations to host the CFAI’s three-day, “Basic Self-Assessment and Community Hazards and Risks” workshops. Workshops are typically scheduled for Monday-Wednesday or Wednesday-Friday.

Likewise, Debbie Sobotka, CPC Director, is in need of locations for the one-day “Nurturing Fire Service Leaders Through Mentoring” workshop and the “Credentialing: A Pathway to Personal and Professional Excellence” workshop, as well the three-day “Data Analysis and Presentation Using Excel” workshop.

Workshops hosts are asked to provide a training area sufficient for 25 students, audio-visual equipment necessary for the class and assistance with promotion of the workshop in the geographic region (contacting local departments and encouraging them to send representatives). Many departments also provide continental breakfast in the mornings and snacks during the day.

As our thanks, if the class achieves twenty (20) paid registrations, the host agency receives two complimentary registrations for the workshop. If your department is interested in hosting a workshop, please call 703-691-4620 and speak to either Debbie or Karl.

Spreading the Message: CPSE at Industry Events

Representatives from CPSE, both staff and volunteers, have been actively spreading the word about the value of Accreditation, Professional Credentialing, our technical advisory services and the importance of fire sprinklers. Within the past few weeks, CPSE personnel have exhibited at these conferences:

  • National Association of Counties annual conference
  • IAFC’s annual Fire-Rescue International
  • International City-County Managers Association annual conference
  • NFPA’s Northwest Fire Sprinkler Summit

and coming up in the next few weeks, CPSE will be participating at:

  • International Code Council annual convention
  • American Fire Sprinkler Association annual conference
  • Michigan Fire Chiefs Association annual meeting

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:

September 30, 2014
Self Assessment and Community Risk/SOC
St. Albert, Canada

October 01, 2014
Self Assessment and Community Risk/SOC
Guelph, ON

October 02, 2014
Advanced Technology for Community Risk/Standards of Cover

October 07, 2014
Self Assessment and Community Risk/SOC
Rocky Mount, NC

October 08, 2014
Chief Officer Credentialing…Where Do I Stand?

October 20, 2014
Self-Assessment and Community Risk/SOC
Myrtle Beach, SC

October 21, 2014
Self Assessment and Community Risk/SOC
Plano, TX

October 21, 2014
Flawed Situational Awareness: The Stealth Killer of Firefighters

October 24, 2014
Peer Assessor Workshop

October 24, 2014
Nurturing Fire Service Leaders Through Mentoring
Myrtle Beach, SC

October 27, 2014
Data Analysis and Presentation Using Excel
North Charleston, SC

October 27, 2014
Marketing and Managing your Dept’s Image and Reputation through the Power of Social Media

November 03, 2014
Self Assessment and Community Risk/SOC
Miami Beach, FL

November 03, 2014
Self Assessment and Community Risk/SOC
Grand Junction, CO

November 03, 2014
Self Assessment and Community Risk/SOC
Germantown, MD

November 06, 2014
Nurturing Fire Service Leaders Through Mentoring
Miami Beach, FL

November 10, 2014
Technical Competency – Writing to Achieve Designation

November 12, 2014
Self Assessment and Community Risk/SOC
Atlanta, GA #1

November 17, 2014
Self Assessment and Community Risk/SOC
Atlanta, GA #2

November 19, 2014
Data Analysis & Presentation Using Excel
Sandy Springs, GA

December 03, 2014
Self Assessment and Community Risk/SOC
Anaheim, CA

December 09, 2014
BIGGIE SIZE it NOT – Reducing Preventable Cardiac LODD and Injuries

December 15, 2014
Data Analysis & Presentation Using Excel