By Caitlin Burns
The Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) has put Abington Township (PA) Fire Department (ATFD) on the map of highly acclaimed emergency service providers. Representatives of the fire department accepted the commission’s accreditated agency status for quality services and programs on March 11, 2014.
“We’re honored the Commission recognized our department,” Fire Services Administrator David Schramm said. “Our five stations work hard to provide efficient, quality services to the community, and we’re happy those achievements have been recognized by this notable accrediting organization.”
The ATFD met over 300 performance indicators, core competencies, and criteria in areas such as fire suppression, fire training, strategic planning, fire prevention education programs, finances, physical and human resources, and firefighter safety.
An Esteemed Designation
Abington is the only volunteer fire department in Pennsylvania to receive this prestigious accreditation. In total, Abington will join a list of over 200 renowned fire departments and emergency service providers.
As an accredited emergency services provider, the Abington Township Fire Department will be able to improve its services by addressing the recommendations that were identified by a Peer Assessment Team from the Commission on Fire Accreditation International.
A Long Journey to an Outstanding Outcome
The road to accreditation was long and detailed, with years of applications, assessments, and plans submitted to the Commission. The department had to conduct a self-assessment that included a detailed community risk analysis, standards of cover, and strategic planning components. This documentation represented a significant effort by the members of the department.
A Peer Assessment Team was sent to Abington to review, verify, and validate the extensive documentation. Following a five-day site visit, the Peer Assessment Team recommended accreditation status for the ATFD. The final step was for the Abington
Township Fire Department to attend a hearing before the Commission where the final decision to accept the Peer Assessment Team’s recommendation was made.
“It was a long process, but the department wanted this accreditation,” Schramm said.
“This is important to us because it’s a source of pride. It recognizes our volunteers’ accomplishments and hard work throughout the community. As an all-volunteer fire department, the organization prides itself in the manner its members work collaboratively to meet the expectations of the community.”
During the site visit, the Peer Assessment Team identified opportunities for improvement. In order to maintain accreditation, the Abington Township Fire
Department is required to submit Annual Compliance Reports explaining how the recommendations made by the team are being met in a fiscally responsible way.
The CFAI is a committee of the Center for Public Safety Excellence, which is a nonprofit group that promotes continuous quality improvements to emergency services throughout the United States. The Commission’s goals are to promote organizational self-improvement, help fire departments improve services to the community, and to award accreditation status in recognition of excellent performance.
Benefits of Accreditation
The benefits of accreditation to the Abington Township Fire Department include a unified mission, a Strategic Plan based on community expectations, the ability to set realistic and achievable goals, performance standards based on national guidelines and best practices, the development of a comprehensive risk assessment program for the community, and identifying credible and attainable recommendations for improvement of services delivered to the community. The high quality self-assessment manual that was produced by the department provides a road map for future excellence.
About Abington Township Fire Department
Abington Township Fire Department has been serving the community for more than 100 years and is made up of five volunteer fire companies: Abington, McKinley, Weldon, Edge Hill, and Roslyn. Approximately 235 volunteers belong to the department and dedicate their time and energy to keeping the community safe.
The ATFD is guided by its Mission Statement: The Abington Township Fire Department is a dedicated team of volunteer firefighters comprised of five individual fire companies unified as one department with a mission to provide excellent fire, rescue, fire prevention, and public education services to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the community.
The fire department headquarters is located at 1176 Old York Road in Abington. For more information, call 267-536-1055 or visit www.abingtonfd.org.
By Caitlin Burns