Council Memo

Fire Department National Accreditation Presentation.



Document Comments

Recommended Action: This Item is for presentation only. No formal action will be taken.


Item Summary


Provide a general overview of the pursuit of National Accreditation through the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) by the Prescott Fire Department.




Early in CY 2018, Prescott Fire Department began its quest to become a nationally accredited agency under the umbrella of the CFAI. This undertaking involved local engagement with our citizens, elected officials, and our employees as we worked toward the comprehensive development of our Community Risk Assessment/Standards of Cover, Strategic Management Plan that works to further the city strategic plan, and the Fire and Emergency Services Self-Assessment Manual.

With the completion of the aforementioned documents, the Prescott Fire Department seeks to share the steps to the process and details relative to the upcoming site visit to be conducted by third-party non-affiliated fire and emergency services professionals in order to verify and validate the Prescott Fire Department as being credible in ten (10) key performance indicators.


Financial Impact




Meeting History

Oct 8, 2019 1:00 PM  City Council Study Session Meeting
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Fire Chief Dennis Light provided a presentation to Council regarding the three year project for the Fire Department to acquire National Accreditation, and the reason behind getting accredited. A third party and independent source comes in to verify the Department is doing what it says it is and provides a road map for how to best move forward by providing:

*Comprehensive fire and emergency services evaluation

*Way of measuring the department’s performance

What Does Accreditation Do:

* Raises the profile of your agency with the community

* Establishes an agency-wide culture of continuous improvement

* Builds positive relationships with labor group

* Offers independent verification and validation of your agency’s operations

* Provides tangible data and information for your elected officials

Why do Accreditation:

* This has been on his agenda since coming to the department as he feels it is important for the organization

* Provide a road map for how to move forward in the best way

* Gives the department “defensible space” when someone comes in with questions

* Accreditation is a marketing plan - goes into 10 areas of how the department functions

* Is not a deviant underhanded way of getting what you need; it is a way of legitimately justifying the needs of your organization in a credible manner - on site evaluation happening in November

What is the Center for Public Safety Excellence:

* Accreditation body

* Non profit organization dedicated to the improvement of fire and emergency service agencies through self-assessment, accreditation, professional credentials and emergency management & other programs

How Good is the Prescott Fire Department (PFD)?:

* This process reinforces what is being done correctly and when things aren’t being done properly gives what can be done to remedy that

How do you Know Your Answer is Credible:

* How do you perform at emergencies

* What is your community involvement

* How much do you save/lose due to fires

* What is your response time, turnout time

Process for Accreditation:

* Become a registered agency - current position

* Become an Applicant Agency - have 18 months to complete the bulk of the process which began in February 2019; have access to all CPSE documents, peer support and more

* Become a Candidate Agency - all criteria is completed and the goal is to be completed by November 2019 when the peer assessment team conducts the site visit

* Accredited Agency Approved by CFAI - the board meets twice per year with the next meeting in March 2020 (would hope to be accredited by that time)

Accreditation Building Blocks:

* Community Risk Assessment (CRA) - was presented to Council previously and processes have been completed

* Standards of Cover (SOC) - goal for performance (about improvement so this is usually better than what is actually being done)

* Strategic Management Plan Document - 5 year plan, using CRA and SOC findings to create

* Self Assessment Manual (SAM) - this is our assignment, what improvements need to be made and how will we get there

Self Assessment Process:

This is a purely voluntary process which touches on 10 categories of the Department

* Governance and Administration

* Assessment and Planning

* Goals and Objectives

* Financial Resources

* Programs

* Physical Resources

* Human Resources

* Training and Competency

* Essential Resources

* External Systems Relationships

Why are We Doing This?:

* Encourages quality improvement continuously

* Provides an evaluation of the agency and services

* Identifies areas of strengths and weaknesses

* Provides a means for agency growth

* Provides a mechanism for concurrent documents such as strategic plans…

Commission Meetings:

* Meets 2x a year (Spring - March and Fall)

* Peer Assessment visit should be completed two months prior to the Commission Meeting

* Typically, the Chief, Accreditation manager and a member of city government attend (PFD will either be accredited or deferred at the March 2020 Meeting; should deferment happen would need to address additional core criteria's before becoming accredited)

Councilman Goode commented that he feels accreditation requirements are critical, and asked if there is any financial impact to maintain membership through accreditation. He also asked if the Chief would attribute improvements in the Department's ISO Ratings to being involved in this process, and if this just covers fire or medical services as well. He congratulated staff on their work during this process.

Chief Light responded that there is initial cost in beginning the process as well as hosting the upcoming site visit and an annual $1000 fee to maintain membership. He stated that those have been absorbed in the annual budget for the Department. With regard to the ISO rating, he stated that it is somewhat related, but many of the improvements came from improvements in the water system; however, many communities have experienced exponential improvements in their ISO ratings through accreditation so it is meshed together. This will cover medical as well as fire services.

Councilman Sischka asked Chief Light to address the fact that we currently have the same number of Fire Department staff as we had in 1992.

Chief Light commented that while numbers have fluctuated over the years, we do have today what we had in 1992 and that directly correlates to response times. We are outside of similar jurisdictions and our ability to concentrate resources creates challenges.

Mayor Mengarelli asked if it would be possible to back fill the needs with more personnel but no additional stations, and if accreditation would be a first for PFD.

Chief Light stated that additional personnel would be the next best course to adding an additional station, and that this would be a first for PFD, however prior to the 2017 merger Central Yavapai was accredited.

Mayor Pro Tem ORr stated that she likes the idea of continuous improvement and asked about previous discussions regarding improvements from the communications center so Department staff know better what to expect when arriving on scene.

Chief Light stated that they are pursuing improvements on the communications side and seeking input from 9-11 dispatchers, however, he commented that it is simply not possible to do single person responses in the fire model so that is tough to address. Two areas where we can show improvement are in call processing time and response time (how fast they can get to the truck and respond - can’t control wheel (drive) time, etc.)

City Manager Michael Lamar also commented that staff have been working with care facilities to ensure that they are staff adequately and will continue doing so. He also discussed the need for dispatchers to properly triage calls and working with Lifeline Ambulance to improve their response times as well.

Chief Light reiterated Mr. Lamar's comments stating that negotiations with the ambulance company is ongoing.

Councilman Sischka asked the Chief to provide a history of PFD response times.

Chief Light said that typically first unit on scene times are between 7:30-8 minutes (90 seconds of call processing, 90 seconds for turnouts and the rest is drive time) and that most of the issues are with EMS calls because of the time sensitivity. He state that for more specific historic data he would need to return to Council with that information.

Mr. Lamar reiterated that on the fire side of things sprinkler and fire suppression systems are much better than they used to be and that has helped with fire as well.

Councilman Blair commented that he feels it is important to consider that being able to provide one more employee per shift so there isn't "one left behind" would be important and could allow multiple things to happen in one area. HE stated that he would like to see a model of how that would impact us if that happened at all stations.

Chief Light commented that one of our challenges is geography, and on the north end response times are longer so that issue still needs to be addressed.

Mayor Pro Tem Orr asked what the percentage is of medical versus fire calls, and if we have looked at models of how other communities similar to Prescott are handling these issues.

Chief Light stated that 6 out of 10 calls are EMS, and that most of the other communities they have looked at have adjusted the way they respond to low acuity calls, which leaves fire services forces more available. Again, though, this would require PFD to add and not just use what we already have.

Councilman Lamerson asked what Prescott would need to do to get into the 90th percentile with regard to response times.

Chief Light stated that we would require the addition of one fire station and one low acuity unit accounting for approximately 15 FTEs.

Lamar said sprinkler and fire suppression has improved.

Blair-providing one fire employee .......He would like to see what it would cost to add an employee to each shift. Have another emergency vehicle (not a fire truck) It would ease some of it.

Lamerson-90th percentile what do we need in the fire department. Light-to enhance the numbers we really require a fire engine and a low acuity unit.