The Orlando Fire Department received international accreditation
on August 15, 2013.
Fire service accreditation is administered by the Commission on
Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) through the Center for
Public Safety Excellence (CPSE) and requires an embedded culture
of quality throughout an organization. Maintaining accreditation
is a significant undertaking and requires the combined best
efforts of all members of the department. Accreditation
necessitates the development and maintenance of several key
documents including a Strategic Plan, Self-Assessment Manual
(SAM) and a Standards of Cover (SOC) and Community Risk
What is Accreditation?
Accreditation is a comprehensive assessment and evaluation model
for fire and emergency service organizations. The accreditation
process helps to determine community risks and fire safety
needs, evaluates the performance of an agency, and provides a
method for continuous improvement. The accreditation and
certification bodies change requirements over time requiring
accredited agencies to continue to evolve and improve.
The Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) is
governed by an 11-member commission representing a cross-section
of the fire service industry, including fire departments, city
and county management, code councils, the U.S. Department of
Defense, and the International Association of Firefighters. The
full Commission meets bi-annually to review all agencies
applying for accreditation or reaccreditation status.
Why did the Department Pursue Accreditation?
Because it was the right thing to do. Conducting a
comprehensive assessment and identifying areas where we
could improve was a responsible course of action. Having a
detailed evaluation for our use provides a basis for good
Reassures the citizens we serve and ultimately protect their
interest and investment in the City of Orlando.
Assists us in maintaining our ISO 1 rating.
Provides an internal and external review of the services we
provide to the community.
The promotion of excellence in our organization is an
initiative that both management and labor are fully
committed to. Accreditation was a recognized framework to
guide this endeavor.
Accreditation provides assurances to our stakeholders that
we are doing a good job. Stakeholders
in our organization include the citizens we serve,
businesses, neighboring agencies and others.
Accreditation allows us to showcase our capabilities and
quality. Assessments of our agency have the transparency of
external peer review.
Fosters pride within our organization.
Expanded the Department’s organizational knowledge including
its business operations.
Provides a long-lasting shared knowledge of the organization
and provides a foundation for sound succession management.
Brought our membership together to build a better
Determined the Department’s strengths, weaknesses,
limitations and opportunities for improved service.
Provided a method to analyze the services provided by the
Department and how best to deliver those services.
Are CFAI Accreditation and ISO Class (PPC) the same?
No. CFAI is the Commission on Fire Accreditation International.
ISO is the Insurance Services Office. ISO ratings are somewhat
limited in their application because they are related mostly to
firefighting operations. As noted in the ISO’s Fire Suppression
Rating Schedule, “The Schedule is a fire insurance rating tool
and is not intended to analyze all aspects of a comprehensive
public fire protection program. It should not be used for
purposes other than insurance rating.”
CFAI accreditation takes a far broader look at an organization.
Within the accreditation model are ten categories that fire
agencies use as the basis to benchmark and evaluate performance.
Governance and Administration
Assessment and Planning
Goals and Objectives
Training and Competency
External Systems Relations
The ISO is a national insurance engineering service
organization that assigns a public protection classification (PPC)
to jurisdictions based on fire agency services. Insurance
companies typically establish insurance rates for individual
occupancies or groups of occupancies based on the PPC. PPCs are
established using the ISO’s Fire Suppression Rating Schedule (FSRS).
Once widely used by fire departments to evaluate system
performance, the FSRS’s use is somewhat limited in that it only
evaluates fire protection (not EMS). Also, the FSRS does not
consider efficiency (e.g., how many resources are deployed in
comparison to the number of actual calls). Though not as widely
used today, ISO ratings are still appropriate to consider as
part of a more comprehensive system performance review. Combined
with other assessments, ISO standards are useful, but not by
To analyze a community’s fire protection, the ISO uses a grading
system of 1 to 10. A community protection factor of 1 is the
highest possible grade with insurance rates likely to be lowest
for the community (ratings increase by 1 for every 10 credits,
e.g., Class 1 = 90.00+ credits, Class 2 = 80.00–89.99, Class 3 =
70.00–79.99, etc.). A community with a Class 10 rating means
that there essentially is no recognized fire protection system
or availability of water for fire suppression. Only a very small
number of communities with very effective water distribution
systems and highly capable career fire departments are able to
achieve a rating of 1. The Orlando Fire Department has held a
continuous ISO PPC 1 rating since March 1, 2008.
The three components evaluated by ISO in making a final
determination of PPC are:
Fire department: fire station locations, number of
engines/trucks, staffing levels, training, etc. (50 percent)
Water supply (40 percent)
Emergency dispatching and communications (10 percent)
History of Accreditation in the Department
In September 2012 the Orlando Fire Department began pursuit of
international accreditation by the Center for Public Safety
Excellence. By October 2012 OFD had assembled a diverse team of
about 30 employees tasked with addressing the self-assessment
requirements of the accreditation process.
In January 2013 the City Council adopted both the 2013-2017 OFD
Strategic Plan and the Standards of Cover and Community Risk
Assessment. The Self-Assessment Manual was completed in
February 2013. By all accounts the Self-Assessment Manual
produced by this team was of exceptional quality and is serving
the department well.
Self-Assessment is a discovery
process that provides the ability to evaluate programs and
activities in relation to improving the quality of the
organization by increasing the safety, effectiveness, and
efficiency of the Department. There are 43 specific criterion
used to sub-categorize the 258 Performance Indicators within the
ten measured categories. 82 of the 258 Performance Indicators
are Core Competencies and must be met without exception to
After completing all requisite steps and providing all required
documentation, including the 2013-2017 Strategic Plan, 2013
Standards of Cover and 2013 Self-assessment Manual to the
Commission, the Department was elevated to Candidate Agency
Status by the CFAI in February 2013.
During the week of April 28,
2013 a three-member CFAI Peer Assessment Team was on site to
evaluate the Department. On May 2, 2013 the Peer Assessment
Team announced that the Department would be recommended for
international accreditation. After a unanimous vote of
approval by the full Commission during a public hearing in
Chicago on August 15, 2013 the Department became the largest
municipality within Orange County to achieve international
accreditation. OFD is currently one of 15 departments in the
world to have both international accreditation and an ISO PPC
rating of 1.