What is Accreditation?
CFAI accreditation is a process of agency self-assessment. The Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) will provide your agency the accreditation model, various accreditation publications and trainings, and access to experienced peer assessors. Your agency, however, will have to do the work. We promise it’s worth it. Working towards, achieving, and maintaining accreditation:
The Accreditation Model?
- Provides greater community alignment.
- Encourages quality improvement.
- Facilitates input from and builds positive relationships with labor.
- Identifies areas of strengths and weaknesses.
- Allows for the establishment of a plan for improvement.
- Provides data supported decision-making.
- Communicates management and leadership philosophies.
- Ensures your agency has a defined mission and related objectives.
- Encourages the development of organizational procedural documents.
Accredited agencies are often described as being community-focused, data-driven, outcome-focused, strategic-minded, well organized, properly equipped, and properly staffed and trained. Part of the reason for this is the holistic scope of the CFAI model. It includes 11 categories that cover the span of fire and emergency service operations:
Category 5 (Community Risk Reduction Programs) includes the following sub-categories:
- Governance and Administration
- Assessment and Planning
- Goals and Objectives
- Financial Resources
- Community Risk Reduction Programs
- Physical Resources
- Human Resources
- Training and Competency
- Essential Resources
- External Systems Relationship
- Health and Safety
Self-Assessment - Where It All Begins
- Public Education
- Fire Investigation, Origin, and Cause
- Domestic Preparedness
- Fire Suppression
- Technical Rescue
Like many fire and emergency services agencies you may find yourself living in a world between public service and private demand. Your agency’s goals likely include reducing property and life loss and promoting employee safety; however, you often find yourself making choices. Before making choices, wouldn’t you want to know your current status…. that’s where self-assessment is invaluable.
Self-assessment is an excellent way of coping with the rise of performance-based budgeting. This type of budgeting requires measuring, benchmarking, and analysis, all of which are in the CFAI model. Government accountability has also been an emerging trend for the last few decades. Self-assessment provides a reliable response to increased oversight by managers and elected officials and potential criticism from the community.
Accreditation - Is It Worth It?
Agency accreditation is a voluntary process. Some agencies seek a dollar-for-dollar return on investment before pursuing accreditation, the true investment is agency staff time and learning what you do not know about your organization. Accreditation is an international recognition of achievement. It shows to your community that your agency continually self-assesses, looks for opportunities for improvement, and is transparent and accountable through third party verification and validation. Document review and onsite assessment by CFAI peer assessors is very thorough. Accreditation reports often include peer recommendations for improvement beyond those your agency may have identified. Accreditation will benefit your agency internally by fostering pride amongst your members, community leaders, and citizens, and will also benefit you externally through the support of and networking with other accredited agencies.