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IFSAC Accreditation Process - Yes or No?

IFSAC Accreditation Process - Yes or No?

What are your feelings about the IFSAC accreditation process? Now before you jump to your first thoughts of being “For or Against” IFSAC let’s take a few moments to look at the program as it stands in the State of Washington.

The IFSAC website relates this: IFSAC was founded in 1990 to establish a new national accreditation system for fire service certification programs. In 1992, the development of an accreditation system for fire related degree programs began.

The WSP Fire marshal’s website relates this: The Fire Protection Bureau was originally accredited by the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC) in 1995. . This world-wide organization includes 114 member entities including 41 states, 10 Canadian provinces, the Republic of South Africa, Egypt, Germany, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, the Sultanate of Oman, the United Kingdom, the Canadian Armed Forces, and the United States Department of Defense.

So now that we have a framework for what IFSAC is. Let’s take a moment to look at how this affects us in our respective organizations. First of all, it is my opinion that this program is not going away, as some of its predecessors have done. The national and international acceptance of this program will compel it to continue. So now the question we ask ourselves. Do we embrace this relatively new program in our department, or do we resist it? I for one was one who initially was resistant to the changes that we needed to make to comply with the accreditation process. But, as I usually do in these situations I decided to look deeper at the program,  its process and benefits. When looking at the program, I found that many of the anecdotal points I knew of, or had related to me were not true. And through the research of the IFSAC program itself and the Fire Marshal’s administration of it. I found it to be a quality program with strong backing and some very committed individuals at the Fire Marshal’s office. Individuals who are trying very hard to see this program be successful in our state. Now, does that mean that there are not bumps in the road that couldn’t use a little revamping? I think we know that any program we institute will have issues that need resolved as we roll-out the program. This is where I address the process. What I have worked hard to identify in my own situation with our agency is the steps of the process, the issues that we need to clarify or resolve and how we can embrace this program for the future of the fire service. One particular area we noticed an alarming trend was in the written testing. We repeatedly had students who were failing tests. This is one of the things that got me thinking: Why are these tests are so difficult? By asking that question at the state level I was invited to participate in a workgroup of seasoned instructors from around that state and IFSAC representatives from the Washington state patrol. We were able to identify through this process test questions that were not really representative of questions for that particular skill set. The group felt these questions should be excluded from future tests. We can look forward to these changes in the coming year.  This one opportunity opened my eyes at how we can get involved in the IFSAC process and make it a credible program and help the Fire Marshal’s office shape it within its boundaries to be something we accept and encourage our members to embrace. As far as the future of the IFSAC program and the benefits to the Fire Service in Washington State. I would say that we are on the right track with the IFSAC process. The Board of Training officers is offering IFSAC accreditation for two different levels at our upcoming conference in February. So we at Training, Safety & Officer Section are committed to seeing this process continue and will continue to represent the fire service in making positive steps along with the Washington State Fire Marshal's office to the IFSAC program. Long term throughout the nation we will see this be a readily transferable certification much the same way as the National Registry of EMT’s has become. This will enable our members to take a certification and move from agency to agency within the state, nation or internationally. But more importantly we will have members that are all trained to the same basic standard, a standard that we can build on in our own organizations.

Hurry and register for the February Training officer’s conference. Hope to see you there!

In the meantime be safe out there. 

By Kurt Stitch
Training, Safety & Officer Section Board Member

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Posted: Jan 28, 2016,
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