|The Fort McCoy Fire Department has completed nearly all
requirements necessary to become one of the very few Army Fire
Departments to earn international fire department accreditation.
A Peer Assessment Team representing the Commission of Fire Accreditation
International (CFAI) conducted an on-site visit at the installation from
June 4-8. Fire Department Chief David Biondi said the team members
verified and validated the department’s self-assessment manual and is
recommending the Fort McCoy Fire Department for accredited status to the
CFAI commission, which will meet in Denver in early August.
Adam Ballard (right), deputy fire
chief, and David Biondi, fire chief for Fort McCoy, brief (left
to right) Ronnie Raper, Brian Besson, and Darrin Hill of an
international accreditation team about the Fort McCoy Fire
Department operations. (Photo
by Rob Schuette)
“We’re pursuing accreditation to be among the best-of-the-best fire
departments in the Department of Defense and in the Army,” Biondi said.
“We want to be sure we are providing the best service to our customers.
It’s a fantastic learning tool to achieve excellence in our business
Deputy Fire Chief Adam Ballard, the department’s accreditation manager,
said the fire department volunteered to seek accreditation. Ballard and
Biondi likened the process to other industries that seek accreditation,
such as hospitals, schools and airports. People are more likely to feel
comfortable and have confidence in organizations that are accredited
knowing that they are in line with industry best practices, they said.
“The accreditation process is all about dedication to continuous
improvement, conforming to fire department best practices and thriving
for excellence,” Ballard said. “The process also enables us to offer
better emergency services to the Fort McCoy community and mutual-aid
Biondi said the department began the accreditation process
two-and-one-half years ago.
“It was a hard task to get everything in order,” he said. “We decided
even if we ultimately didn’t get accredited it still would make us a
better department, able to provide better services to our customers. We
learned a lot from the process, and this puts us on the path to
The process included the completion of a detailed Standards of
Cover/Risk Assessment, Strategic Plan and comprehensive self-assessment
manual that spanned 10 categories, such as governance/administration,
financial resources, external relations and other fire department
programs, he said.
After submitting the self-assessment manual and other required
documents, the department entered the candidate phase with the CFAI team
visit to Fort McCoy to verify and validate the information in the
documents. Biondi said interviews were conducted with department staff
and with representatives of on-post organizations that interact with the
Other Army installations to gain accreditation, to date, are Rock
Island, Ill., Fort Lee, Va., and Fort Drum, N.Y.
The city of La Crosse also has begun the self-assessment phase of the
process, Biondi said. Fort McCoy will share the knowledge it has gained
through the process with all of its neighbors, such as the Sparta and
Tomah fire departments, with which it has mutual-aid agreements in
Biondi added the use of the fire department’s skills, knowledge and
technology to support the surrounding communities is in keeping with the
Army Community Covenant.
If the Peer Assessment Team recommendation is upheld by the commission
in early August, the installation will have to submit annual compliancy
reports and go through the reaccreditation process in five years, Biondi
In the meantime, the department will continue to seek out
opportunities to improve its methods and customer service.