Los Alamos Fire Department staff answering questions during the accreditation process are, front row from left, Deputy Chief Steve Dawald, Chief Troy Hughes, back row, Managment Analyst Xavier Anderson, Accreditation Manager Norma Jean Valdez and IAFF Local 3279 President Bertram Quintana. Photo Courtesy LAFD
The Los Alamos County Fire Department has received Accredited Agency status with the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) for meeting the criteria established through the CFAI’s voluntary self-assessment and accreditation program. The Los Alamos Fire Department is one of 280 agencies in the world to achieve Internationally Accredited Agency status with the CFAI and the Center for Public Safety Excellence, Inc. (CPSE).
The Commission on Fire Accreditation International is dedicated to assisting the fire and emergency service agencies throughout the world in achieving excellence through self-assessment and accreditation in order to provide continuous quality improvement and the enhancement of service delivery to their communities. The CFAI process is voluntary and provides an agency with an improvement model to assess their service delivery and performance internally and then works with a team of peers from other agencies to evaluate their completed self-assessment.
Fire Chief Troy Hughes stated that the department “is a premier emergency response agency, not only in the State of New Mexico, but one of the premier emergency response agencies in all of the United States. We not only protect and serve one of our nation’s most valuable assets, the Los Alamos National Laboratory, we also protect and serve our nation’s brightest people who live and work in Los Alamos County.” He said, “while some may see this process as intrusive, LAFD sees it as an opportunity to improve and provide the exceptional service we promise to our customers.”
In a report submitted on behalf of the CFAI, it was noted that, “The peer assessment team observed a strong commitment by the department to the CFAI accreditation process and the institutionalizing of the process in particular.” Norma Jean Valdez, Accreditation Manager said the support and involvement from the community stakeholders and members from all levels of the department is key to this achievement. She recognized the core team of division chiefs, specialty program teams and administrative services staff as the backbone of the process.
On December 15, in a virtual format, Fire Chief Troy Hughes, Deputy Fire Chief Steve Dawald, Accreditation Manager Norma Jean Valdez, IAFF Local 3279 President Bertram Quintana, Los Alamos County Council Vice-Chair Randall Ryti, Los Alamos County Manager Harry Burgess, Los Alamos County Dispatch Manager Katherine Stoddard and Management Analyst Xavier Anderson appeared to answer questions from the 11-member Commission about LAFD’s strategic plan, community risk assessment-standard of cover and self-assessment process.
In 1997, Los Alamos Fire Department became one of the first five fire departments in the world to achieve Internationally Accredited Agency status. Today, Los Alamos is the only fire department serving a Department of Energy national laboratory that is accredited and the only department in New Mexico to achieve this honor.