What is the value of accreditation? What is in it for my agency?
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 this 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 positives relationships with your labor groups
- Offer independent verification and validation of your agency’s operations
- Provide tangible data and information for your elected officials
How long does it take to achieve accreditation?
Timelines for achieving accreditation vary based on the organizations capabilities, team size, expertise, and commitment. Currently, agencies have reported they spend approximately 2,000 hours preparing the required accreditation documents and up to 13,000 hours addressing all things they learn from the self-assessment. It is our experience that agencies generally take 3-5 years to work through the process to achieve accredited status.
How do I get access to tools, templates, and communications from CFAI?
To get access to tools, templates, and communications from CFAI, you must become a Registered or Applicant Agency and designate an accreditation manager who will be provided access to our platform. To become a registered agency:
- Learn more about how to get accredited.
- Registered Agency status is valid for three years and can be renewed as many times as you need.
- Registered agencies receive copies of both accreditation publications, gain access to an online platform, and may participate in frequent web-based trainings.
Does the accreditation model apply to volunteer fire departments?
Absolutely! The CFAI model applies to any fire department that provides emergency services to a community. If you are interested in assessing your organizational performance and community risk then the effectiveness of this model is blind to which departments are career, volunteer, or combination.
What training is required for my agency's accreditation team?
Only the accreditation manager is required to attend the Quality Improvement through Accreditation Workshop and the CFAI Peer Assessment Webinar. However, if agencies are able, we encourage them to get additional team members trained by attending the above-noted classes.
We are a Registered Agency. What is the best way to prepare for Applicant Agency status?
We recommend that the accreditation manager, fire chief, and at least one other person who can fill in for the accreditation manager, when necessary, first attend the Quality Improvement Through Accreditation (QITA) Workshop. Then, the accreditation manager (and any others) should attend the CFAI Peer Assessor Webinar to become a CFAI peer assessor.
The accreditation manager should conduct a site visit as a new peer assessor and gain the experience necessary to clearly understand how the peer assessment process works.
While the accreditation manager is waiting to be assigned to a peer team, he or she can begin developing their own internal accreditation team and begin working through Section 5 of the current Fire and Emergency Services Self-Assessment Manual (FESSAM) to gather the data and documents needed
Once Section 5 is completed, the internal accreditation team is able to determine if they are ready to move forward as an Applicant Agency or if they need assistance from our Technical Advisor Program (TAP).
What are the timelines for submitting final documents for a site visit?
Currently, CFAI holds public hearings twice annually to render a vote on granting accredited status. These hearings are in spring at CPSE”s Excellence Conference and in the summer at IAFC’s Fire Rescue International. Agencies wishing to achieve accredited status in the spring will need to upload all required accreditation documents to the online platform by the 30th of September of the previous year. The deadline for the summer hearings is March 31st of the same year.
Can I request a delay, deferral, or an extension from CFAI?
Agencies cannot request a delay or deferral as these are decisions only the peer team (Delay) or the CFAI (Deferral) must make. Agencies may request an extension of their applicant or accredited status. Agencies can learn more about how to request an extension in the CFAI Policy and Procedures Manual located on the accreditation managers’ page of our online platform.
What is an accreditation peer assessor?
Peer assessors are CFAI’s agents and are tasked with verifying and validating an agency’s accreditation documents and conducting onsite assessments. Peer assessors, as a team, make a recommendation to CFAI to either accredited, defer, or deny an agency.
What are the requirements to become a peer assessor?
To serve in the capacity of Peer Assessor, an individual must meet the following requirements:
- Successful completion of the Quality Improvement through Accreditation and Peer Assessor workshop.
- Completion and approval of a Personal Resource Inventory (PRI) form
- Sponsorship by prospective peer assessor’s agency (e.g., Fire Chief, City Manager, Mayor, etc.). Peer assessors must come from an agency that is in status with the CFAI (registered, applicant, candidate, accredited).
- Must be assigned to a peer team within 18 monthsof approval as a peer assessor.
- Peer assessors must have the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to effectively evaluate all areas of an organization. Typically, these individuals will be lieutenants (Lt.) and above in most fire service organizations. It is recognized that many agencies have civilian equivalents within their organization, however are filling full time employee positions below the rank of Lt. These individuals will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. All other special requests will be reviewed as they present themselves.
How are peer assessors assigned to an agency?
CFAI maintains detailed information on peer assessors’ experience and information on the agencies they work for. When assigning peer assessors to an agency, we strive to match assessors to agencies of similar size to the one they work for and where their experience will be most effective (e.g. transport agencies vs. BLS agencies). Peer assessors should have no direct relationship, past or present, with the agency visited that might be construed as a conflict of interest.
What is an accreditation consortium?
Accredited agencies have found that banding together to form regional consortiums is an effective networking opportunity. Click here to see the consortium in your area, who to contact for more information, and details on their meeting frequency and location.
How are CFAI commissioners appointed?
The Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) has 11 members that represent a cross-section of the fire and emergency service, including fire departments, city and county management, labor, standards development organizations, and the U.S. Department of Defense.
CPSE solicits and accepts nominations from appropriate organizations that align with the seat in which the vacancy represents. Commissioners are appointed by the CPSE Board of Directors.
CFAI Commissioners are appointed to serve an initial term of three (3) years and are eligible to be reappointed by the CPSE Board of Directors up to a maximum of three (3) terms of three (3) years each.