Category: CPSE On the Road

Read the 10th Edition Draft and Submit Feedback by September 30, 2019

CPSE is now soliciting public input on a draft of the revised Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) model. Participation from members of the fire and emergency services community is critical to the ongoing effort of improving the model, which is used by agencies around the world to guide them through self-assessment and become accredited.  
The team of fire service leaders and experts who created the draft have worked hard to make changes to the model that better align it with the current and anticipated needs of the fire service and our communities. Those changes include adding a new category to cover health and safety topics as well as other substantive and clarifying revisions throughout the model.
We are asking for your input on those proposed changes and additions so that we can incorporate your feedback prior to finalizing the new model this fall. Industry experts and community members are encouraged to participate in the public comment period. Professionals from outside the fire service who can provide expertise in relevant areas are also welcome to submit their input, as are any members of the public who are interested in helping shape the future of the fire service in their communities.
Submit Your Feedback
Public comment will be accepted through September 30, 2019. To submit feedback, visit the Public Comment Page. There you’ll find links to download the draft as well as instructions on downloading and completing the public comment form.
All of the feedback received during this public comment opportunity will be reviewed and considered by the team of fire and emergency service leaders leading the 10th Edition process.
For more information, visit the CFAI 10th Edition Project Page. For assistance in submitting public comment or any other questions, please contact us at

Richard Mason to join CPSE as Commission on Professional Credentialing Program Manager

On August 5th, Richard A. Mason, CFO will join the CPSE team as Commission on Professional Credentialing (CPC) Program Manager.
Through April 2019, Rick worked with the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation coordinating their education and training programs. From 1996 to 2011, he served as the Director of the Division of Fire Standards and Training and Emergency Medical Services for the State of New Hampshire. Prior to that he worked in progressively senior roles, from firefighter to Deputy Chief, for fire departments in Portsmouth, Nashua, and Lebanon, New Hampshire.  Rick holds a Bachelor of Professional Studies degree in Public Safety Management from Granite State College and an Associate in Applied Science degree in Fire Protection from New Hampshire Technical College, Prescott Hill.
Rick is a familiar name to many in the CPSE community having served on CPC from 2003 to 2012 and as its chair from 2008 to 2011. Rick is among the inaugural class to receive the first-ever Chief Officer Designations in 2000 and was awarded the Ronny Jack Coleman Leadership Legacy Award in 2012.
In this role, Rick will be responsible for the daily operations of the Professional Credentialing program including providing guidance to all existing and potential program participations, providing leadership and support to volunteers, and organizing and implementing successful CPC meetings.
Reflecting on Rick’s selection, CPSE Chief Executive Officer, Preet Bassi, CAE noted “Of the almost 40 candidates we considered, Rick’s engaging personality, passion for the CPC process, and national achievements stood out from the beginning. As we moved through the recruitment process, Rick displayed superior analytical, communications, and customer service skills.”
Rick succeeds Debbie Sobotka, recently promoted to CPSE’s Chief Operating Officer, in overseeing the CPC program.  He will inherit a successfully running program which under Debbie’s tenure, since 2004, has seen the establishment of four additional designations, a seven-fold increase of designated-officers from 301 to 2307, and customer service ratings regularly exceeding CPSE targets.
Following a brief on-boarding period, Rick will be connecting with all CPC commissioners, peer reviewers, designees, and other key members of the CPSE community.

CFAI Welcomes Ford as New Commissioner

The Commission on Fire Accreditation International has appointed Chief Terry Ford, CFO, as its newest commissioner representing Department of Defense fire and emergency services. The CPSE Board unanimously approved his appointment.
Terry Ford is the Chief of the Fire and Emergency Services Division at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, a CFAI accredited agency. His fire service career began in 1982 and has included assignments at U.S. Air Force bases around the globe as well as Superintendent of the DoD Fire Academy. He was named chief at Tinker Air Force Base in 2005.
Chief Ford holds a bachelor’s degree in Fire Science Management and a master’s degree in Human Resource Management.
Chief Ford is a graduate of the National Fire Academy Executive Fire Office Program and earned his designation as Chief Fire Officer in 2002.
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. CFAI holds public hearings at the CPSE Excellence Conference each spring and at the International Association of Fire Chief’s Fire Rescue International Conference each summer to review agencies applying for accredited status.
Learn more about the individuals that graciously volunteer their time to overseeing accreditation.

Side Effects of CRR

Joe Powers, FO
Captain, Henrico County Division of Fire

You can hear Captain Powers talking about the Side Effects of CRR on this podcast from The Vision 20/20 Project’s CRR Radio.

For decades, fire service agencies across the United States focused on fire prevention as a primary measure to reduce death and injury in the community. Through a blanket approach, we all provided education and resources to the residential community and code enforcement to businesses.  However, there was a fundamental lack of risk identification, risk prioritization, and risk-based resource deployments to the community.
This strategic risk-based approach is the foundation of Community Risk Reduction (CRR).  In and around 2008, a change began to spread throughout the fire service industry.  The transformation centered around a cycle of risk identification, prioritization, resource investment, and evaluation. This cycle became the foundation for Community Risk Reduction and a national movement within our industry.
One of the most noticeable differences between traditional fire prevention and CRR is that our old school methods exhibited an absence of data-informed risk identification.  In the CRR model of activity, the risk of a specific community (or specific community demographic) is identified and prioritized through a comprehensive assessment. Reliable data is collected, and specific risks are identified and defined.
Raging structure fire risk may not always be our highest priority… who would have thought?   The data will likely show the risk of cardiac arrest, falls, or drownings may rank higher, and resources can be deployed accordingly.  For those of us still looking for fire risk, we may find a specific community with late-night kitchen fires prompting the deployment of education and stovetop fire-stop devices.
Having that comprehensive understanding of the community is difficult to achieve fully.  The difficulty is overshadowed, however, by the side effects that accompany Community Risk Reduction activities.  We all understand the impacts and measured outcomes within our communities, but rarely do we discuss what happens inside our departments.

Side Effects of CRR

Organizational Self-Assessment
Workload Reduction
Increased Efficiency

Fully implementing Community Risk Reduction within an organization provides an array of benefits on top of reducing risk in the community.  The model of risk assessment, prioritization, and evaluation allows the organization to grow in many areas.
Side Effect #1: Organizational Self-Assessment
To achieve reliable outcomes from a model-based program, an organization must understand the resources, current programs, support structure, and strategic direction.  The model of Community Risk Reduction pushes organizations into self-assessment as plans are made for service delivery, deployment, and evaluation. Self-assessment in the traditional fire service is a scary endeavor for many.  As an industry, we must open the doors and brush away the cobwebs before we can begin to make real progress.
We must first understand who we are, what we can offer under our current models, and where we can go in the future.  Self-assessment allows our organizations to identify areas for continuous improvement only after fully understanding who we are and what we do.  Embracing the Community Risk Reduction model opens the doors for comprehensive self-assessment.
Side Effect #2: Workload Reduction
Model-based programs are focused.  For example, instead of providing a county-wide fall prevention program, specific communities or locations are identified through reliable data for resource deployment.  The risk of falls is decreased by applying resources to a specific population, community, or area and reducing the workload.  Additionally, we didn’t have to work as hard to deliver the program, and we may achieve higher measurable outcomes.
In a recent example, the Henrico Smoke Alarm Initiative installed more than 1,500 alarms in twelve months using a risk-based deployment method.  Rather than having hundreds of operational staff knocking on doors, the program used two light-duty staff members, and more smoke alarms were installed in 2017 under this program than in the previous seven years combined.  As a bonus, our risk assessment is 91% reliable at identifying homes without a working alarm.
From the perspective of resource management, however, it is essential to remember that the fire department may not be the most appropriate program delivery mechanism.  Because of our nature, we frequently try to be everything for everyone and become a territorial amoeba that consumes programs models within our reach.  Risk assessments streamline service delivery to reduce our workload, but we can take it a step farther.  Instead of deploying a new initiative with our limited resources, use the risk assessment to identify the most appropriate partner to influence community change.
Side Effect #3: Increased Efficiency
Because of the focused nature of programs developed under the Community Risk Reduction model, not only is workload decreased, but organizational efficiency is increased.  Using a risk assessment, the most impact can be delivered to the community with minimal effort.
As an example, a program in Henrico uses a risk assessment to deploy engine companies to conduct life safety inspections, complete pre-incident plans, and satisfy code enforcement needs… all at 12% of the workload of the antiquated engine company-based inspections program, it replaced.  Additionally, all target hazards will be pre-planned every 18-24 months district-wide.
What do elected officials like just as much as saving money?  They like government efficiency!  Community Risk Reduction not only drives efficiency within the fire department but also in the county or city as a whole.  The CRR model forces organizations to expand their minds, think outside the box, and look for ways to identify the most appropriate and efficient means for service delivery.
Side Effect #4: Partnerships
Everyone is familiar with a version of this:
“One hundred years of tradition unimpeded by progress.”
For this discussion, I believe our industry is more characterized by:
“One hundred years of ideas unimpeded by outside perspectives.”
Working within organizational silos is highly inefficient and prone to almost inevitable failure. One of the critical components in the Community Risk Reduction model that is rarely discussed is partnerships.  CRR partnerships are about finding the right people to sit together at the right table to make a recipe for success.  By providing an environment for your department to work directly with other internal and external agencies, it creates ownership and pride in the outcomes.
Partnerships also contribute to increased government efficiency by eliminating government waste and duplication of services.  When a fire department opens its doors to partnering agencies, they expose opportunities for consolidation.  What the local health department is doing in one at-risk neighborhood may be impactful to the fire department.  By establishing open communication, the fire department may provide a risk assessment that identifies an associated risk the health department can mitigate in the same community, thus solving two agencies’ problems with minimal resources.
With our ever-increasing access to technology and data, the fire service continues to take giant steps forward in generating community outcomes under the CRR model.  Policy-makers and community leaders alike will seek out the measurable outcomes they expect from these Community Risk Reduction activities.  For departmental leadership, however, we get to double-dip and recognize the parallel internal benefits of CRR.  Increased efficiency, decreased workload, fostered partnerships, and self-assessment all contribute to a better organizational experience.  That’s a better organizational experience for our personnel, the greatest asset we have.
The Center for Public Safety Excellence and the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) offer valuable tools and resources to help drive your agency toward feeling the side effects of Community Risk Reduction.  One of the primary pillars of the CFAI Accreditation Model is a comprehensive risk assessment.  Category 2 of the Fire and Emergency Service Self-Assessment Manual (FESSAM), Assessment & Planning, establishes the foundation for agencies to understand the community’s needs, identify service gaps, begin to establish response standards to meet the needs, and create means for maintaining and improving service.  Category 2 draws many parallels with Community Risk Reduction.
Moving forward, I encourage you to further investigate not only Category 2 but the total self-assessment model of accreditation to see how you can improve upon your department’s response to the community’s needs.  Then, continue to take steps forward in identifying more risks, prioritizing, investing in resources and partnerships, and evaluating the impact of your risk reduction work.
For more information on Community Risk Reduction, I recommend visiting the Vision 20/20 Project’s website at

Joe Powers is a 26-year veteran of the fire service and holds a Master’s in Public Administration and a Bachelor’s in Health Sciences and is a designated Fire Officer with the Commission on Professional Credentialing.  Both locally and internationally, Joe works with fire departments to improve operational response, reduce organizational workload, and tie data to strategic decision-making.  Joe is a CFAI Peer Assessor, CPSE University Instructor, and presents at conferences on topics such as CRR, strategic planning, and fire service data.  Joe lives outside of Richmond, Virginia and works for Henrico County Division of Fire, a metro-sized agency with 600 personnel.

There is No Success Without a Successor

Reginald D. Freeman, CFO, MS, FIFireE
Chief, Hartford Fire Department and CPC Chair

The 21st century fire service is faced with unprecedented challenges that warrant unprecedented leadership so that organizations can accomplish their missions. These challenges include, but are not limited to, operational budget reductions, multi-jurisdictional consolidations, staff reductions, professional development, resource reductions, scarce capital improvement funding, and the average years of total service being noticeably lower today when compared to just 15 years ago.  Although these challenges may initially seem to be intimidating, as a profession, when we properly prepare ourselves, poor performance can be averted. The success of any fire department is contingent upon the organization’s ability to proactively address problems before they become a crisis. This is applicable to both emergency and non-emergency responses.  If you ask ten executive fire officers what it means to be “properly prepared,” you would get multiple different answers. Simply put, “Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.”  
As we confront the challenges and issues of the 21st century fire service, ensuring that a comprehensive succession plan is in place is critically important.  Having a succession plan that is coupled with the organization’s strategic plan and professional development program correlates goals, objectives, and tasks with organizational statements. I do not use the term “Officer Development Program” because it leaves out all members of the team who are not ranking officers. Firefighters, civilians, and, drivers, etc. should all be participating in a professional development program. When a professional development program, succession plan and strategic plan are synergized, true “Tri-Advancement Planning,” a term that I created and have lectured about to international audiences for over a decade now, occurs. The organizational statements which are the vision, values, and mission statements, respectively, should be foundational to every initiative proposed within the department. The succession planning process should occur for every rank and position within the department. I say “succession planning process” instead of “succession plan” because some overlook that success is obtained from going through a process and not just checking a box.  Succession planning should occur in both Operations and Support Services Divisions. From Firefighter up to Fire Chief and Shop Technician to Fire Marshal, ensuring that succession planning and professional development is occurring is the only way to ensure sustainable success.
One first step in developing an organizational succession plan is to establish a robust coaching/mentoring program. This coaching/mentoring program should be formal; however, at the minimum, it should acknowledge that informal mentoring is happening in the work place on a daily basis.  Next, regular reviews of the progress being made between the protégé and mentor should be conducted by an assigned person to gauge the effectiveness of the relationship.  Adjustments can be made accordingly that include revising goals and objectives, if necessary.  A reliable blueprint to properly document knowledge, skills, abilities and goals is an “Individual Development Plan (IDP)”  that should include:

Individual Development Plan (IDP)
Current Role

Name, Division, Position Title and Rank

Developmental goals for current job

Competency (knowledge, skills, ability)

Developmental activity (on-the-job training, education, or classroom training)

Outcome desired

Intended completion date and cost

Individual Development Plan (IDP)
Short-Term Goals

Name, Division, Position Title and Rank

Short-term goals (1-2 years)

Knowledge, skills and ability to develop

Outcome desired

Intended completion date and cost

Individual Development Plan (IDP)
Long-Term Goals

Name, Division, Position Title and Rank

Long-term goals (3-5 years)

Knowledge, skills and ability to develop

Outcome desired

Intended completion date and cost

When an IDP is created in conjunction with a formal mentoring program, the protégé has explicit direction and an established mentor to consult with as needed. During scheduled mentor/protégé meetings, the progress being made in accomplishing the identified goals should be discussed.  Also, any roadblocks, challenges, delays, and general problems should also be discussed during the scheduled meeting.  Lastly, it is important to celebrate small wins and successes as well. Often times, we tend to focus on just the negative and forget about the power of positive reinforcement and the impact that it has on desired outcomes.
So, how do we reach our desired outcomes? In the IDP, we have discussed establishing goals as well as knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs).  One reliable way to enhance KSAs is through a professional development program.  Some organizations have professional development programs that are tied to the promotional process while other programs are in place to assist members with identifying which fire service classes to take as well as collegiate classes for higher education.  Some organizations utilize the Fire & Emergency Services Higher Education (FESHE) initiative to standardize training, education, experience, and certification activities as well as use it as a general professional development roadmap. Although there is no one right answer on what a proper professional development program should consist of, below is an example of what classes could be included in a program:
Series I

Fire behavior, reading smoke, and interior fire suppression (offensive & transitional attack) classes
Specialty classes (i.e.: hazardous materials technician, rescue technician, elevator rescue technician, etc.)
Pump/Operator and/or Aerial Operator (NFPA 1002)
Fire Officer I (NFPA 1021)
Fire Instructor I (NFPA 1041)
Fire Inspector I (NFPA 1031)
Nationally Registered EMT or Paramedic (depending on jurisdictional requirements)
Team building training
NIMS 100, 200, 700, & 800
Working towards Associate’s degree

Series II

Complete Associate’s degree
Fire Officer II (NFPA 1021)
Fire Instructor II (NFPA 1041)
Haz-Mat Incident Command
NIMS 300 & 400
Conflict resolution
Emotional intelligence
Diversity & Inclusion
Working towards Bachelor’s Degree
Fire Officer Designation (Center for Public Safety Excellence, Inc.)

Series III

Fire Officer III (NFPA 1021)
IMS (Multi-jurisdictional response/mutual aid training)
Emergency Operations Center
Servant leadership
Transformational leadership
Managing Diversity & Inclusion initiatives
Conflict resolution
Incident Management Team (IMT)
Managing Officer program (NFA)

Series IV

Fire Officer IV (NFPA 1021)
Complete Bachelor’s degree
Executive Fire Officer program (NFA)
Chief Fire Officer Designation (Center for Public Safety Excellence, Inc.)
Start Graduate degree
Conflict resolution
Team building
Creating diversity & inclusion programs
Computer simulation lab

Series V

Complete Graduate degree
Implementing diversity & inclusion programs
Team building
Conflict resolution
Budget management
Capital improvement program management
Computer simulation lab
Workforce management
Workers compensation/labor law

Keeping in mind the 5Ps that were previously mentioned, “Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance,” the objective of professional development is to prepare members of the fire department for the next rank PRIOR to being promoted. That is why in “Series I” of the professional development program example above, a Firefighter is pursuing and or being trained in disciplines that a Lieutenant must have. The rationale is that if a member of a department is required to execute duties and responsibilities of a specific role with a specific title, in this case, that of a Lieutenant, why is it not required nor the expectation that they be proficient in all of the job performance requirements on their first day in their new role? Through mentoring and obtaining certification classes, higher education and soft skill training, then duty efficiency and effectiveness is maximized.
A succession planning matrix assists with identifying all of the following: critical positions, when said positions are expected to become vacant, the priority of the position, and if a successor is secured. Let’s take a deeper look at the succession plan matrix and imperatives that are included in it: 

As a profession, we work extremely hard within our respective organizations to respond in a professional manner when someone is in need. That is done at the macro-level of job execution; but how good are we at being proactive at the individual micro-level of the organization?  Although pursuing and obtaining credentials and accreditation through the Center for Public Safety Excellence, Inc. have been the hallmark of excellence on an individual (micro) and organizational (macro) level for years, what is the purpose of obtaining excellence if it cannot be sustained?  The pursuit of excellence should be identified as the cultural expectation by the organization. It is all of our duty to reach out, reach back, and reach down to fellow fire service professionals in efforts to implement sustainable success. Besides, there is no success without a successor. From the rank of firefighter up to the rank of fire chief.

Reginald D. Freeman is the 37th Fire Chief/Emergency Management Director for the City of Hartford. Prior to the City of Hartford, Chief Freeman served as the international Fire Chief for Lockheed Martin and served as a civilian Fire Chief in Iraq for the U.S. Department of Defense from 2004-2008. Chief Freeman’s educational accomplishments include a Bachelor of Arts in Leadership from Bellevue University in Bellevue, NE. He earned his Master’s Degree in Executive Fire Service Leadership from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, AZ and he is currently pursuing his Doctorates in Organizational Leadership with an emphasis in Organizational Development. Chief Freeman is also a graduate and Fellow of Harvard University’s Senior Executives for State & Local Government program at the Kennedy School of Government. Chief Freeman previously served as the Chair of the Industrial Fire & Life Safety Section for the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and a previous Board member of the Executive Fire Officer Section of the IAFC and Technical Committee member of NFPA 1021 (Fire Officer Professional Qualifications). Additionally, Chief Freeman serves as the Chairman for the Commission on Professional Credentialing via the Center for Public Safety Excellence, Inc. and is also the Director of Training for the Caribbean Association of Fire Chiefs. Chief Freeman is a credentialed Chief Fire Officer (CFO) through the Center for Public Safety Excellence, Inc. as well as a credentialed “Fellow” with the Institution of Fire Engineers, USA Branch. Lastly, Chief Freeman serves on the Board of Directors for NFPA. Chief Freeman is an Adjunct Professor for Anna Maria College and the University of Florida where he lectures in both undergraduate and graduate Fire Science and Master of Public Administration programs.