In 2011, the Metro West Fire Protection District was recognized as an “Internationally Accredited” agency. This process was led by the accreditation manager Assistant Chief Edward M. Beirne  of the Metro West Fire Protection District Command Staff. Chief Beirne, along with his team of “Category Managers” facilitated all elements required by the “Center for Public Safety Excellence”. This effort required every employees participation and involvement. The reason is because this process evaluates the processes performed within every area of the organization.

Accreditation is a comprehensive self-assessment and evaluation model that enables organizations to examine past, current, and future service levels and internal performance and compare them to industry best practices. This process leads to improved service delivery.
CPSE’s Accreditation Program, administered by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) allows fire and emergency service agencies to compare their performance to industry best practices in order to:

– Determine community risk and safety needs and develop community-specific Standards of Cover.
– Evaluate the performance of the department.
– Establish a method for achieving continuous organizational improvement.

Local government executives face increasing pressure to “do more with less” and justify their expenditures by demonstrating a direct link to improved or expanded services. Particularly for emergency services, local officials need criteria to assess professional performance and efficiency. The CFAI accreditation process provides a well-defined, internationally-recognized benchmark system to measure the quality of fire and emergency services.

Every fire organization?whether volunteer, combination, career, federal, or private can use the accreditation model in setting goals, crafting strategic and action plans, and continuously evaluating and improving services provided to the public.

The Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) comprehensive self-assessment process promotes excellence and encourages quality improvement by enabling fire and EMS agencies to:

– Assure colleagues and the public that they have definite missions and objectives that are appropriate for the jurisdictions they serve
– Provide a detailed evaluation of the services they provide to the community
– Identify areas of strength and weakness within the department
– Create methods or systems for addressing deficiencies while building organizational success
– Encourage professional growth for both the department and its personnel
– Provide a forum for the communication of organizational priorities
– Foster national recognition by colleagues and the public
– Create a mechanism for developing strategic and program action plans

Achieving Accredited Agency status takes work, but it’s well worth the effort for both Metro West and for those we serve.

The self-assessment process demands the largest portion of time to achieve accreditation. Although there is a substantial commitment of time and resources, departments nationwide have realized the value of the self-assessment process and accreditation model because you are documenting policies and procedures that you should have in place already. You are simply documenting what you are doing.

The accreditation process results in the development of planning documents, including short-term action and long-term strategic plans?important tools in the budgeting process and a basis for justifying departmental programs and services. Accreditation has the potential to dramatically improve a department, its services, and its vision for the future.