Alabaster Fire Department seeking accreditation
Published 3:24 pm Monday, January 11, 2016
By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor
ALABASTER – For Alabaster Fire Chief Jim Golden, the prospect of possibly becoming the first accredited municipal fire department in Alabama isn’t as important as what the accreditation would mean for the city’s residents.
“The designation is prestigious, but what’s important to us is the process we follow and the outcomes that come from it,” Golden said. “Being accredited will lead us down the path of providing better services to the community.”
The AFD recently announced it is seeking accreditation from the Center for Public Safety Excellence – A status only achieved by about 215 fire departments across the nation.
While working for accreditation, the fire department will spend the next several months examining its policies, procedures, equipment and more as it works to improve all aspects of its services.
“Essentially, this will make us examine all aspects of our department and ask ourselves ‘Is this the best way to do this?’” Golden said. “If it’s not the best way we could be doing it, what do we need to do to make it the best?”
The department kicked off its quest for accreditation during an hour-long public input session at City Hall on Jan. 11, which drew more than 50 attendees representing everything from education and business to law enforcement.
During the session, which was led by Center for Public Safety Excellence Chief Financial Officer Brian Dean, attendees provided feedback on the department ranging from prioritizing services offered by the AFD to listing out expectations, strengths and concerns for the department.
Dean said many fire departments do not hold public input sessions while seeking accreditation, and praised the AFD for including the step in its process.
“I’ve only done about 100 of these across the nation in the past eight or nine years,” Dean told those in attendance at the meeting. “Very rarely do departments reach out to you, the community, to get your feedback.”
After collecting the community’s feedback, the Center for Public Safety Excellence planned to present the comments to the AFD on Jan. 12. The AFD will then use the public feedback and feedback from its internal assessment to move forward with strengthening its services, Golden said.
The whole process likely will take about a year.
“It’s really an in-depth process,” Golden said. “The city administrators are supporting us whole-heartedly through the process.”