Scott Fire Department earns prestigious accreditation

BY GWENDALYN SMITH
AIRMAN 1ST CLASS
Firefighters discuss tactics and procedures during a training course at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., Aug. 31, 2016. The training featured firefighters from multiple bases and from the local community to include the 628th CES from Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, the 19th CES from Little Rock AFB, Arkansas, the Mehlville Fire Protection District from St. Louis, Missouri, and the St. Louis Public Schools. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Fowler)

Firefighters discuss tactics and procedures during a training course at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., Aug. 31, 2016. The training featured firefighters from multiple bases and from the local community to include the 628th CES from Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, the 19th CES from Little Rock AFB, Arkansas, the Mehlville Fire Protection District from St. Louis, Missouri, and the St. Louis Public Schools. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Fowler)

SCOTT AFB – The Scott Fire Department recently earned the prestigious title of Accredited Agency; this level of recognition showcases their overall excellence in managing programs and resources, as well as their commitment to Continuous Process Improvements.

During the past two years, the Scott Fire Department worked diligently to meet all requirements to become an Accredited Department through the Commission on Fire Accreditation International, or CFAI.

“Typically this is a three year process but with the data we possess, we accomplished it in two years!” said Scott Fire Chief Michael Marascia. “This recognition not only shows the level of professionalism of the Scott Fire Department, but is a clear indicator that there are no challenges we cannot tackle together, as one team.”

Currently there are only 234 fire departments worldwide recognized as an Accredited Agency — 30 of which are Air Force fire departments.

Marascia explained that to achieve this recognition they developed a community risk assessment, a Standard of Cover (a document that details the level of service provided to the community), a Strategic Plan, and then conducted a self-assessment that encompassed 10 categories with 254 performance indicators.

These performance requirements, which must be reaccredited every five years, cover all aspects of a fire department to include: fire suppression, aviation fire suppression, hazardous materials, emergency medical services, technical rescue, fire prevention and public education, as well as adequate standard operating guides, effective program management of additional duties and a comprehensive career training program. During the self-assessment they also identified improvement areas along with areas of “above the standard performance measures.”

Once that was completed, the CFAI sent a four-person team representing professionals from across a broad range of emergency services to review the department’s processes and to validate their self-assessment results. The team was led by Dr. Cortez Lawrence of FEMA.

After an intense four day assessment, the Peer Assessor team determined the department had met the defined criteria and provided a recommendation to the CFAI Board that they were worthy of the recognition.

The final portion was conducted in conjunction with the Fire Chief Conference, held in San Antonio this past August. Marascia, along with several members of Scott’s Fire Department and Dr. Lawrence, went before the commission to answer questions from a 12-member panel.

During the 20 minute questioning, two Scott Airmen who were attending — Senior Airman Cody Sherron and Airman 1st Class Tyler Moorehead — were asked to come to the front of the panel to answer questions regarding the entire process. For Marascia, having his young firefighters answer the final questions was the icing on the cake — “because this was a huge team effort, to end the process by having our young Airmen participate, not only throughout the main process but in the final crucial moments and stand tall in front of the panel, I could have not asked for a better ending!”

Afterwards, the panel unanimously approved Scott becoming an Accredited Agency.

“One thing that I am most proud of is how this team came together and worked toward this goal,” said Marascia. “We looked at this entire process an opportunity to educate and develop our team, and they were the ones who responded to over 250 line items and implement nine recommendations from the peer assessment team. I mentioned to the panel that regardless of the outcome, we had not ‘arrived,’ but that we would continue to look at ways of improving our service to the community!”