Virginia Beach Fire Department fully accredited, fourth consecutive time

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(Courtesy of VBFD, from left to right, District Chief Michael Barakey, VB Fire Chief Steven Cover, Battalion Chief Amy Valdez, Acting Battalion Chief John McIvor, District Chief Kenneth Pravetz, Battalion Chief Joshua Goyet and CFAI Rep. Jeff Ferris )

(Courtesy of VBFD, from left to right, District Chief Michael Barakey, VB Fire Chief Steven Cover, Battalion Chief Amy Valdez, Acting Battalion Chief John McIvor, District Chief Kenneth Pravetz, Battalion Chief Joshua Goyet and CFAI Rep. Jeff Farris )

The Virginia Beach Fire Department was fully accredited Wednesday by the Center for Public Safety Excellence for the fourth time, the department announced Friday.

The department is one of 11 agencies in Virginia to be fully accredited by the center’s Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI) and one of 234 emergency-response agencies worldwide to be recognized by both CFAI and the Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE), a release said. The reaccreditation process requires months of review of departmental records, on-site assessment of equipment and verification of records, according to Art Kohn, public information officer for the department.

“Accreditation is a continuous and comprehensive process that requires participating agencies to examine past, current and future service levels and internal performance and compare them to industry best practices,” VBFD Battalion Chief Amy Valdez said in the release. “We are not in a profession that can accept ‘good enough’. We bring our ‘A’ game every day so that when someone is dealing with their worst day, we are at our best.”

The department was assessed by CFAI commissioners for months before a group came out to verify records on things like average response time, building inspections and the condition of department equipment, Kohn said. CFAI also considered the number of fire hydrants throughout the city and service-response strategies. Fire departments can apply for reaccreditation every five years; VBFD was last accredited in 2011.

“The Virginia Beach Fire Department is one of the finest in the country,” City Manager Dave Hansen said in the release.  “Under Chief Steven Cover’s leadership, the department has consistently delivered quality services.”

According to it’s website, CPSE’s accreditation program is administered by the CFAI, and  allows fire and emergency-service agencies to compare their performance to industry best practices in order to:

  • Determine community risk and safety needs and develop community-specific standards of cover.
  • Evaluate the department’s performance.
  • Establish a method for achieving continuous organizational improvement.

The assessment allows the department to keep improving, according to Kohn.

“We’re very proud of it,” Kohn said in a phone interview. “The main thing we’re excited about in this kind of thing is that it shows us that we are doing the right thing, and that we’re giving the people of Virginia Beach our best effort in order to ensure they’re safe – both their lives and their property.”

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