(PACIFIC MISSILE RANGE FACILITY) – The fire department at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) recently received reaccreditation status by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International, following their initial accreditation in 2007. The department is one of only three in the state of Hawaii and 150 worldwide to achieve this elite status.
“This accreditation really brings up the morale of the department,” said Janis Kimata, PMRF assistant fire chief who has been a PMRF firefighter for 11 years.
The Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) is committed to assisting and improving fire and emergency service agencies around the world in achieving organizational and professional excellence.
The CFAI program uses a self-assessment evaluation that enables fire and emergency service agencies to examine past, current, and future service levels and performance and compare them to industry best practices. This process leads to improved service delivery by helping fire departments determine community risk and safety needs, evaluate performance of the department, and establish a method for achieving continuous organizational improvement.
The accreditation process demands substantial amount of time to achieve, from 700 to 1000 hours to complete.
“The process breaks down into 10 general categories,” said PMRF Fire Chief Manuel Neves. “Included in those 10 categories there are 253 performance indicators, 82 of the indicators are core competencies, which means that they need to be completed. We go through this process of looking at ourselves as a fire department in how decisions are made, how long it takes to respond to a fire and what each individual in the department does during a call. Everything we say we are doing has to be documented.”
The accreditation process results in the development of planning documents, standard operating procedures, short-term and long-term strategic plans. Accreditation has the potential to dramatically improve a department, its services, and its vision for the future.
CFAI Commissioners ask challenging and direct questions to agency representatives before a vote is taken. “I was really nervous going before the commission.” Kimata said, “You don’t know what they are going to ask you, but we answered the questions to their approval. I’m glad we received the accreditation. It’s going to be on our trucks and people are starting to notice. We have it on our uniforms. When we go out in the public people are surprised and say ‘Wow such a small department is accredited. It makes us very proud.”
The CFAI convened in Denver, on August 1. Including PMRF’s fire department, 28 fire and rescue agencies were represented. After 12 hours of deliberations, 13 agencies received their Accreditation Status, three of which were Department of Defense fire agencies; another 13 received Reaccredited Agency Status.