Benefits of Fire Department Accreditation
So why would a fire department want to conduct an evaluation of its fire service program? According to the CFAI, there are four major reasons:
- To help a fire department that is trying to cope with change;
- To provide for periodic organizational evaluation to ensure effectiveness;
- To provide information when there is a change in leadership whether it is the fire chief, city or county manager or key elected officials; and
- To raise the level of professionalism within the organization, and ultimately, within the profession.
These are all proactive reasons with a purpose to improve, but the primary goal of a self-assessment process is to answer three basic questions:
- Is the organization effective?
- Are the goals, objectives, and mission of the organization being achieved?
- What are the reasons for the success of the organization?
CFAI further describes the benefits of an accreditation program as:The promotion of excellence within the fire and emergency services;
- Encouraging quality improvement through a continuous self-assessment process;
- Providing assurance to peers and the public that the organization has defined missions and objectives that are appropriate for the jurisdictions it serves;
- Providing a detailed evaluation of a department and the services it provides to the community;
- Identifying areas of strength and weakness within a department;
- Developing a method or system to address deficiencies and build on organizational successes;
- Professional growth for a department as well as its personnel involved in the self-assessment process;
- Creating a forum for communicating organizational priorities;
- Achieving international recognition for a department by peers and the public;
- Creating a mechanism for developing concurrent documents, including strategic and program action plans; and
- Fostering pride in the organization from department members, community leaders and citizens.
These benefits range from abstract concepts to practical, day-to-day improvements. However, improvement will not occur unless the organization applies the findings from the self-assessment to local planning and implementation activities. The willingness to allow for improvement and accept change is another challenge the department must accept.
Self-assessment focuses on whether the organization is meeting goals that are commensurate with its responsibility. In today's world of government where the focus is on reinventing, re-engineering, rethinking and quality management, a department must continue to ask itself if there is value added by the actions it is taking within the organization. This process assists the fire service by asking questions to determine if the fire department is effective in meeting the needs of its community.