The Greenville City Fire Department (GCFD) has received Accredited Agency status with the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI). GCFD is one of only 250 agencies to achieve Internationally Accredited Agency status with the CFAI and the Center for Public Safety Excellence, Inc. (CPSE). Of those, GCFD is one of only 65 agencies worldwide to hold both a Class 1 ISO rating (the highest public protection classification that can be earned) and international accreditation. Other CFAI-accredited agencies in South Carolina include Spartanburg Fire Department, Town of Mt. Pleasant Fire Department, Charleston Fire Department, North Charleston Fire Department, Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue, Shaw Air Force Base Fire Emergency Services, Parris Island Fire Rescue, Joint Base Charleston Fire Emergency Services and the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort Fire & Emergency Services.
The CFAI process is voluntary and provides agencies with an improvement model to assess their service delivery and performance internally and then works with a team of peers from other agencies to evaluate their completed self-assessment. The 11-member CFAI represents a cross-section of the fire and emergency services, 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 Chiefs’ Fire-Rescue International Conference each summer to review agencies applying for accredited status. Fire Chief Steve Kovalcik and members of the command staff are in Dallas, TX this week for the Fire-Rescue International conference and appeared before the Commission this morning.
According to Chief Kovalcik, GCFD has spent the past five years working through the rigorous process to achieve accredited status. “We were told at the beginning of this journey that accreditation is a process, not a project, and as proud as we are today, we know this is not something we can just check off our list,” said Kovalcik. “We have completely changed the culture of our department and have been able to use CFAI’s process as a proactive mechanism to plan for the future and identify areas where we can improve the quality of the services we provide.”
Chief Kovalcik credits their successful navigation of the accreditation process in part to Chief John Donahue from the City of Delaware (Ohio) Fire Department, who was the mentor assigned to them by CFAI, and the support of the South Carolina Accreditation Consortium, which is comprised of departments from across the state and meets quarterly for idea and information sharing. Chief Donahue’s guidance was instrumental in helping GCFD prepare for its site visit by a CFAI Peer Assessment Team June 3-7. During the site visit, the team’s objectives were to validate GCFD’s self-assessment study, identify and make recommendations for improvement, issue a report of findings and conclude if GCFD was eligible for an award of accreditation. According to Chief Kovalcik, the assessors were particularly impressed by GCFD’s extensive support system within the City of Greenville organization. “The team was extremely impressed by the support we receive from our elected officials, city manager and all of the City departments.” In its final report, the CFAI peer assessment team also noted the leadership that GCFD provides to the region.
Accredited agencies must submit an annual compliance report and must undergo a formal evaluation every five years. Captain Kevin Henson is GCFD’s Accreditation Manager and will be responsible for ensuring that GCFD meets and exceeds their expectations through accreditation. Captain Henson also plans to continue to serve as a CFAI peer assessor.
An overview of CFAI accreditation is available online at https://cpse.org/accreditation/.