The Castle Rock Fire Department gained international accreditation, two years after it set a goal to rank itself among the nation’s best.
Accreditation, earned through the Commission on Fire Accreditation International, is a process that includes community input, an evaluation of present practices and a commitment to continued self-improvement, said Art Morales, chief of the Castle Rock Fire Department.
The process began in 2010 with a community survey that indicated residents wanted a timely response from the fire department. The department set a goal to gauge its practices and discuss ideas for improvement.
The goal for accreditation was to quantify the department’s vision, Morales said.
“We’ve always believed we were a high-performing team,” he said. “That’s what accreditation does. It quantifies response time, water levels, everything we do down to every square mile. It puts that stopwatch to national and international accreditation standards.”
The evaluation process included mentor assistance from the center of public safety excellence and site visits from the commission, comprising fire chiefs from accredited agencies.
The site reviews applied standards of accreditation to the fire department’s practices and included interviews with firefighters, ride-alongs with chiefs, fire station tours and visits to town hall, Morales said.
“They understood accreditation,” he said. “We’ve been working so hard, having achieved such a lofty goal is still a bit surreal. The work isn’t over. We’re invested in continuous improvement.”
The commission review took place in May, and Castle Rock Fire received its accreditation in August, making it one of 151 departments out of 26,000 nationwide to earn accreditation.
“We’ve always known we have a top-notch fire department,” said Castle Rock Mayor Paul Donahue. “Accreditation showcases not only (the fire department’s) stellar levels of service, but also their long-term commitment to improving their services for our residents, and that is something of which I’m very proud.”