Fire Department seeks accreditation

Process involves intense self-scrutiny

Oct. 9, 2012

Oak Creek - The Fire Department has taken the first step in the five-year pursuit of accreditation. It's a process of self-examination to ensure the department is working efficiently to provide the highest level of service possible.

West Allis and Menasha have the only two accredited fire departments in the state of Wisconsin.

"It makes you take a look at yourself, what you're doing, how you're doing it and compares it with others around the country," said Gary Streicher, the assistant fire chief of operations in West Allis, one of only two communities in Wisconsin with accredited fire departments. The other is Menasha.

To become accredited, the Oak Creek Fire Department must go through a process outlined by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International. Doing so will cost an estimated $12,000.

The department has completed its first step, becoming a registered agency with the CFAI. This allows Fire Chief Tom Rosandich to attend workshops, access to instructional material and work with other CFAI agencies to continue the accreditation process.

"We started a brainstorming relationship with the Illinois agencies that are on this path and we'll trade information to help us down this path," Rosandich said.

Later in the process, the department will complete a self-assessment, looking at everything from governance and administration to training and competency.

Of the 258 performance indicators involved, there are 82 core competencies the department must meet before applying for accreditation. A CFAI peer-review group will determine success in that arena.

To achieve total accreditation, the department will then have to report to the CFAI accreditation commission during its fall conference. The commission will then either grant, deny or defer accreditation.

"It's quite a bit of work but I truly believe that it's worth it in the long run," Streicher said.

Accreditation is valid for five years and serves as a guideline for the department and city administrators to better plan policy.

"One thing that comes out of this is a lot of transparency. We're going to be involving not only our department members, but the citizens will have some input and the alderman will, too. This will educate them on what we're going to do in the future," Rosandich said.

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