Accreditation process community driven for LSFD

tporter@lsjournal.comJuly 24, 2013 

  • 16-18 Number of months the Lee’s Summit Fire Department estimates it will take to receive accreditation from the Center for Public Safety Excellence.

The accreditation process for the Lee’s Summit Fire Department was once described by an assistant fire chief as “a long process of critical assessment.”

The 16- to 18-month process, which got underway in April, took another step July 19 at the Gamber Center when the LSFD hosted an open house-type forum for public input to help fuel the strategic planning phase of the process.

Led by Richard Fagan of the Virginia-based Center for Public Safety Excellence, the forum consisted of a brief overview from Fagan on the strategic planning aspect of the accreditation process, and included two separate surveys for public input.

CPSE’s accreditation program, administered by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International, is a comprehensive self-assessment and evaluation model that enables fire and emergency service organizations to examine their service levels and performance.

“If they facilitate their own strategic plan without community feedback and don’t consider that, they continue to work in a direction that they believe they should take in taking care of the community,” Fagan said. “While that’s important, it needs to be balanced with what the community’s expectations are, what their priorities are, and they need to know what concerns the community has, if any, and what the community sees as strengths so that they can evaluate if it really is a strength or not. It is really a need to ensure that the community drives their plan.”

Nearly two dozens representatives from various walks of life took part in the forum, and most came away feeling positive about what took place.

“I thought it was good,” said Kathy Smith of the Lee’s Summit Planning Commission. “I thought it was needed. The citizen process is always the best; you get the best ideas. I really want to compliment the fire department for reaching out to so many different people from so many different walks of life to get their input. It was really a good process.”

Smith sat beside Steve Brown, director of transportation for the Blue Springs School District. Brown said he took part in the forum because of the connection between the school district and the city of Lee’s Summit.

“We have (three) schools in the Blue Springs School District that are here in Lee’s Summit,” Brown said. “We want to make sure we interface with them and everything in case there is an emergency.

Brown came away impressed with the strategic planning phase of the accreditation process.

“It’s an excellent process,” he said. “It’s something that every organization should do. It is a process that will maintain continual growth and excellence in everything that they do.”

LSPD Fire Chief Keith Martin and Jim Eden, assistant fire chief, made brief remarks before leaving the floor open for Fagan, himself a former firefighter in Lee’s Summit. It was Eden, the department’s lead on the accreditation, who at the beginning of the process in April described the course of action as “establishing a guide of where we want the department to go.”

“The process itself, it isn’t one of those things where you fill out (forms) and submit it and they come and look at your paperwork,” Eden said in April. “It is a process. It is a long process of critical assessment and a lot of that is establishing things to give us a guide of where we want the department to go and setting the process of getting there.”

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