The Valley Regional Fire Authority (VRFA) earned accreditation status from the Center for Public Safety Excellence on Wednesday, Dec. 15, according to the VRFA.
The accreditation means the VRFA is internationally recognized for its excellence; there are just under 300 accredited agencies in the world, according to the Center for Public Safety Excellence.
The VRFA is the seventh agency in Washington State to receive accreditation.
Achieving accreditation is evidence of a department’s ability to self-assess and continually improve as an agency, according to the Center for Public Safety Excellence. The accreditation model covers every aspect of fire and emergency service operations from governance and administration to training and competency, according to the Center for Public Safety Excellence.
“It is a testament to our dedicated professionals for the quality of work and customer service that is demonstrated daily at the VRFA,” said Deputy Chief and Accreditation Manager Dave Larberg.
The VRFA began its effort to achieve accreditation in 2018 by examining every aspect of the department. The VRFA gathered feedback from staff and community members to figure out what areas the department needed to improve, according to the VRFA.
After the self-assessment phase was completed, assessors from the Center for Public Safety Excellence spent four days touring the facilities, reviewing the self-assessment and interviewing staff.
After the inspection was complete the assessors recommended the VRFA receive accreditation to the Commission on Fire Accreditation International Board, according to the VRFA.
On Wednesday, Dec. 15, VRFA Chief Brad Thompson and staff appeared before the commission hearing board and received the final approval for accreditation, according to the VRFA.
“Accreditation provides a road map for continual improvement and a culture of professional excellence. This culture will guide us as we look to serve our growing community while fulfilling our mission, vision, and values,” Thompson said.
Accreditation is not a one-and-done achievement, the VRFA must continually assess and improve the department in order to stay accredited. Upon completing their assessment of VRFA, the Center for Public Safety Excellence assessors provided the VRFA with a list of suggested improvements.
The VRFA must evaluate those recommendations annually and are considered for re-accreditation every five years, according to the VRFA.
The Valley Regional Fire Authority joins the Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority, Snoqualmie and Bellevue fire departments as accredited agencies in King County.