Ongoing city development and increased budget pressure are two reasons why the Oak Creek Fire Department is considering accreditation, according to Fire Chief Tom Rosandich.
Rosandich spoke to the Oak Creek Common Council Tuesday night about the department pursuing accreditation through the Center for Public Safety Excellence’s Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI).
Working toward accreditation would be a long-term but worthwhile project for the department.
“Under the stigma of budgets that have to be more effective these days, one of the avenues that is open to us and would be a good course of action is accreditation,” Rosandich said.
The accreditation process includes a period of self-assessment, the benefits of which include promoting excellence within the agency, encouraging quality improvement, providing an evaluation of the agencies and services in the community and identifying areas of strength and weaknesses, Rosandich said.
The accreditation process also includes input from other officials and citizens in the city and leads toward developing a consensus of what the city wants and expects out of its fire department, Rosandich said.
The process will cost an estimated $12,000 three to five years down the road, with each phase of the process costing money, in addition to the cost of employee time spent on the project.
The Common Council voted in favor of the fire department moving forward with the accreditation process.
Alderman Jim Ruetz said that they’ve participated in an accreditation process at his work and it made them more efficient, which in turn lowers costs.
City administrator Gerald Peterson also supported the idea.
“I really applaud the fire department for going through this. It’s a lot of work … but it’s going to help point out where you have weaknesses and where you don’t,” he said.
There are only two accredited cities in Wisconsin, West Allis and Menasha, and only about 150 fire departments internationally, Rosandich said.
According to the organization’s website, the CFAI program is a “comprehensive self-assessment and evaluation model that enables fire and emergency service organizations 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 the performance of the department and establish a method for achieving continuous organizational improvement.”