Fire department strives for continual improvement

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By Carol A. Clark

In July, the Center for Public Safety Excellence presented a Self Assessment Facilitation proposal to the Los Alamos Fire Department. The self assessment process is a method in which to promote excellence within the fire service through continuous quality improvement.

The Center provides participating fire departments with a variety of mediums including two distinct programs offering agency accreditation and chief fire officer designation and other projects that enhance training, quality and information available to fire and emergency service agencies and their personnel.

The Center and its board of directors promotes and awards accreditation to fire service agencies throughout the world, when the established criteria and standards have been met or exceeded.

“Our Fire Chief Doug MacDonald served on the national accreditation committee for the Center and is very knowledgeable about the rules and requirements involved,” said Assistant Chief/Fire Marshall Michael Thompson said Friday. “We’re going to hold a meeting with stakeholders, as part of our ongoing accreditation process, to determine how our services are effective and areas we can enhance. We’re already meeting with internal departments such as human resources to review our policies and procedures.”

Thompson explained that the underlying goal of the self assessment process has been to professionalize and empower the fire service in its constant advance toward improvement. The Center promotes the belief that any agency participating in this accreditation process will benefit, whether or not the specific fire service agency actually achieves the award of accreditation.

The self assessment program looks at five basic questions including why the department exists, where it is now, where it wants to be, how it can get there and how it can measure its progress.

The Center has developed a program designed to assist fire service agencies in facilitating the improvement mechanisms and processes that could lead to a more involved and comprehensive self assessment process.

Because some agencies lack the resources or need additional contact with professionals to assist them with the complicated issues facing today’s fire service, the Technical Advisor Program was created by the Center’s board to facilitate continuous improvement and provide assistance to fire service agencies.

The purpose of the Technical Advisor Program is to coach, guide and facilitate the self assessment process and help with specific internal programs.

Fire service agencies who desire to improve their ability in measuring and improving their organization may benefit from the services offered by the Technical Advisor Program.

One of the many projects offered under the Technical Advisor Program is to assist an agency in initiating and progressing through the self assessment process.

The Center’s Technical Advisor Program self assessment facilitation is designed to assist fire service agencies in:

•     The agency’s accreditation self assessment process;

•     Analyzing existing programs in accordance with the Center’s Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) established criteria;

•     Providing recommendations toward resolving identified issues;

•     Facilitating training and planning session; and

•     Providing or recommending additional education and professional development.

The Los Alamos Fire Department seeks to be the recognized leader in fire protection services through results-oriented proactive management and operations, which foster growth, positive interaction, creativity, achievement and excellence.

The LAFD is dedicating its efforts to provide for the safety and welfare of the citizens and visitors of the County of Los Alamos, the Department of Energy and the Los Alamos National Laboratory through the preservation of life, the environment and property.