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By Ronda Scholting

West Metro Fire Rescue has been granted reaccreditation by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI). The Commission voted unanimously to approve the district’s application after a lengthy process that included a series of community meetings, a detailed self-evaluation and an on-site visit by a peer review team. West Metro is one of just over 220 fire districts, worldwide, that holds accreditation status.

“The accreditation process is demanding and requires us to look closely at our long range plan,” said Don Lombardi, Chief, West Metro Fire Rescue. “That includes our finances, potential changes in the district and also new training methods and procedures. It really puts us under a microscope.”

West Metro was first accredited in 2012. Fire agencies go through the reaccreditation process every five years. Accreditation requires agencies to examine past, current and future service levels and internal performance and compare them to industry best practices. The goal is a strategic plan that is tailored to the communities within a district, focusing on the risk and safety needs that are unique to the location and population.

“It’s important for us to know just how effective we are in meeting our mission of protecting lives and property,” said Lombardi. “The intensive accreditation process puts everything in black and white – and lets us know how we’re doing and where we need to improve.”

CFAI is governed by an 11-member commission that represents a cross-section of the fire service industry. Commissioners represent fire departments, city and county management, code councils, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF). The group meets twice a year to review and consider the agencies that have applied for accredited status. The CFAI accreditation process is recognized internationally for providing a defined benchmark system to measure the quality of fire and emergency services.

“Our goal is to be more efficient and effective,” said Lombardi. “Not only does the Commission evaluate West Metro’s performance, it also helps us establish a method for continuous improvement. We want to be held accountable to the people we serve.”

There are 14 fire agencies in Colorado, including West Metro, that have achieved accreditation status. Three others are currently in the application process.

Ronda Scholting is the Communications/Media Relations Specialist for West Metro Fire Rescue; contact her at rscholting@westmetrofire.org or 303-941-8317.