We talk a lot about developing and empowering our employees, creating succession plans and offering educational opportunities to improve their knowledge, skills and abilities. We evaluate our agencies, develop strategic plans and implement quality improvement programs or pursue accreditation to validate what we're doing. We also spend a lot of time and money doing these things, and it's all very worthwhile.
However, we sometimes get so caught up in all of the other things that we forget about ourselves. What are you doing about your own professional development? Do you know where you want to go and what you should be doing to get there? Maybe you're already there and are now looking for something else.
The Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE) established the Commission on Professional Credentialing (formerly known as Commission on Chief Fire Officer Designation) to "assist emergency services officers in their professional development."
Starting initially with the Chief Fire Officer (CFO) designation and then adding the Chief EMS Officer (CEMSO), Chief Training Officer (CTO), Fire Marshal (FM) and Fire Officer (FO) designations, the Commission created these designations to provide an avenue for professional development and recognition within each of these areas for fire and EMS personnel.
If you choose to seek one of these designations, you now have a path to follow not only to be recognized as meeting an accepted professional standard, but also to develop a continuous quality-improvement process.
In addition to serving as a means of recognition, these designations can also serve as a roadmap for anyone wishing to promote up through their agency. Each designation has a list of technical competencies that can be used as a basis for establishing a professional development program, either for an individual or for your agency as a whole.
These designations are not just limited to fire service personnel. They were designed for the professional in any fire, EMS, third-service, for-profit, nonprofit or volunteer agency. An individual can hold multiple designations. The fire chief may also serve as the fire marshal and training officer, so it's not uncommon to see a signature line that lists CFO, FM and CTO. Of course, I strongly encourage all of my EMS comrades to pursue the CEMSO designation, but they're all very worthwhile.
Regardless of your reason, if you obtain one of these professional designations, you have, in essence, completed a self-accreditation process. If you don't meet the criteria, you now know where you need to concentrate your professional development efforts. You took the time to look at what you've done over your career and an outside organization has validated your work. Where accreditation is for your organization, professional designations are for you and an indication that you're on the right path.