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Accreditation provides safety, security for Vandenberg

Accreditation is a comprehensive assessment and evaluation model for fire and emergency service organizations. The program, administered by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International, helps to determine community risks and fire safety needs, evaluates the performance of an agency and provides a method for continuous improvement. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Jan Kays/Released)

Accreditation is a comprehensive assessment and evaluation model for fire and emergency service organizations. The program, administered by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International, helps to determine community risks and fire safety needs, evaluates the performance of an agency and provides a method for continuous improvement. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Jan Kays/Released)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- For members of the Vandenberg Fire Department, safety isn't just a priority for the community, it's an everyday practice for the firefighters as well. To combat these hazards, a concept known as the accreditation process was put into place.

Accreditation is a comprehensive assessment and evaluation model for fire and emergency service organizations. The program, administered by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International, helps to determine community risks and fire safety needs, evaluates the performance of an agency and provides a method for continuous improvement.

"The promotion of excellence in our organization is an initiative that all members of the department are fully committed to," said Mark Farias, 30th Civil Engineer Squadron fire chief. "Accreditation was a recognized framework to guide that endeavor."

Plans for the accreditation design came to fruition when the old model became outdated and less informative.

"The original inspection model was too limiting and didn't focus on strategic analyses or succession planning," said Timothy Sandstrom, 30th CES special operations chief. "We wanted a process that could function as an all-around internal and external assessment of our people, programs and capabilities."

With the new program, the fire department believes the quality and quantity of its service is at an all-time high.

"Accreditation allows us to showcase our capabilities and our qualitative services," said Sandstrom. "It also provides assurance for the citizens we serve, the missions we protect, our bosses, neighboring agencies and all those serving in our agency."

Due to their exemplary performance during a recent evaluation, the Vandenberg Fire Department was re-accredited.

"A four-member CFAI Peer Assessment Team visited us in February to evaluate our organization," said Farias. "The team strongly recommended us for re-accreditation and the commission unanimously voted their approval to re-accredit us during a public hearing in March."

With the means to consistently monitor safety procedures, the sky is the limit for maintaining quality safety assurance.

"The accreditation process has provided us an in-depth look at our strengths, weaknesses, limitations and opportunities for improved service," said Farias. "With these changes, we will continue to evolve and improve. We don't just want to aim, we want to aim higher!"