Organizational excellence, like beauty, is often in the eyes of the beholder. However, increasing demands for public transparency require successful organizations to have their excellence validated by external eyes and to provide assurances that they meet or exceed industry best practices.
Such expectations have been the consumer norm in the lodging, dining and healthcare industries, with various reviews and professional designations guiding consumers through educated choices when evaluating competing providers. Why should fire/rescue in particular and public safety in general be viewed any differently by consumers?
External-agency accreditation provides a framework for guiding an agency through a performance assessment and appropriate metrics to identify both organizational strengths and areas for improvement against industry standards. One has to wonder—with an estimate of more than 30,000 fire departments in the United States—why fewer than 200 have the distinction of holding accredited status.
The fact is that rigorous self-examination is daunting, challenging and often fraught with trepidation. But don't your organization, personnel and communities deserve such a process to guide your organization and community on the path to organization improvement and excellence?
The Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI, administered through the Center for Public Safety Excellence) offers organizations an externally driven process that measures organizations against core competencies that are considered industry standards or best practices. The process guides organizations through the strategic-planning and standard-of-cover processes, looking at community risk and hazards, staffing, service demand and system performance.
Additionally, a thorough self-assessment is conducted across 10 broad categories for successful organizational performance. Organizations utilize these roadmaps in assessing needs, resources, funding and direction for success and meeting the community's public-safety needs.
When organizations are prepared, external peer reviewers validate core competencies and ultimately make a recommendation to CFAI, which ultimately decides on conferring accredited status.
Organizations often find performance success when challenged; the accreditation process by its very design is meant to challenge organizations. It's the journey that provides the highest level of success to an organization, not necessarily just the destination.