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 will:
- Raise the profile of your agency with your community
- Emphasize your agency’s dedication to excellence to your stakeholders
- Establish an agency-wide culture of continuous improvement
- Assist with communicating your leadership’s philosophies
- Build positive relationships with your labor groups
- Offer independent verification and validation of your agency’s operations
- Provide tangible data and information for your elected officials
Ready to get started? Learn how to get accredited. Need more information? Read on…
The Accreditation Model
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 ten categories that cover the span of fire and emergency service operations:
1. Governance and Administration
2. Assessment and Planning
3. Goals and Objectives
4. Financial Resources
6. Physical Resources
7. Human Resources
8. Training and Competency
9. Essential Resources
10. External Systems Relationship
Category 5 (Programs) covers the whole gamut:
- Community Risk Reduction
- Public Education
- Fire Investigations
- Domestic Preparedness
- Fire Suppression
- Technical Rescue
- Aviation Rescue and Firefighting
- Marine and Shipboard Rescue and Firefighting
- Wildland Firefighting
Self-assessment – Where it all begins
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 the actual return is a better-run, higher-performing agency.
Accreditation is an international recognition of achievement. It shows to your community that your agency is performing to industry best practices and is holding itself accountable through an external peer review.
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 considered.
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.