North Texas Daily

Denton Fire Department receives accreditation and significant grant to staff new firehouse

Denton Fire Department receives accreditation and significant grant to staff new firehouse

Denton Fire Department receives accreditation and significant grant to staff new firehouse
April 14
13:00 2023

The Denton Fire Department has been awarded both an accreditation status from the Commission of Fire Accreditation International and a $3.7 million grant from the federal government.

The recognition as an accredited agency places the department within a select group of only 11 others in the state of Texas, as well as the fourth in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

“It shows the federal level that we’re following the best practices, that we are doing everything we can do to make sure we’re using money wisely, using personnel wisely, using equipment wisely and taking care of our people,” said David Boots, Denton Fire Department public information officer. “So everything we do in the accreditation process backs up data to help us to get the grant.”

Accreditation is known to be a difficult process of both self and peer assessment, one that typically takes three to five years to complete. Gathering the required documents may take 2,000 hours and the following agency self-assessment can take up to 13,000 hours, according to the Center for Public Safety Excellence. The Denton Fire Department gave program evaluations for 192 different parts of the process, which took the department three years, Boots said.

“In a roundabout way, it’s looking at everything we’ve done in the past and evaluating it in what we’re doing in the present and putting it up against what are the best practices so that we can make our department better in the future,” Boots said. “So we take a look at everything we do. Every program, every call, everything about our department and measure it up to the best practice of standards for fire departments all over the country.”

As of 2023, less than 400 fire departments have been successfully accredited by the CFAI. The accreditation status is valid for five years afterward.

“Disasters are a team sport,” said Georgia Green, emergency management and planning junior and International Association of Emergency Managers vice president. “In emergency management, first responders, community leaders [and] nonprofits all work together. From the perspective of emergency management, first responders achieving their best standards and practices creates safer, more prepared communities. Successfully obtaining accreditation demonstrates their confidence in their capability and the city’s commitment to supporting our fire department.”

The department’s accreditation also provides benefits when it comes to attracting potential hires, as candidates look for stations that have attained the status.

“As someone pursuing a career in the fire service, having an accreditation such as CFAI shows me as someone interested that the department is dedicated to high-quality service and instruction, thus interesting me in working with the department,” emergency management junior Katelyn McMullen said.

The department’s reception of The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant was announced in late February, shortly before the accreditation. This is the department’s fourth time being awarded the grant, giving them three more years of salaries and benefits for new staff.

“This grant is going to help us with 12 firefighters and personnel costs for three years,” Boots said. “We’re hiring nine right now in May and 12 more in July, so 21 firefighters. We’re going through the interview process for our first nine, and then we’ll be doing more interviews coming up later in this spring.”

Plans for Fire Station No. 9 began this past December, and entrance exams began the following month. The new station is expected to be completed in May 2024 and will be located near Denton Enterprise Airport.

“The SAFER grant program alleviates the burden of local taxpayer dollars by utilizing federal grant dollars from FEMA,” Green said. “The SAFER grant is specific for staffing and is not utilized for equipment, which the City of Denton Fire Department can use other grants to obtain.”

Officials hope the SAFER Grant will improve response times.

“The community of Denton and Denton Fire both benefit from the provided FEMA grant,” McMullen said. “The grant overall provides more staffing for the department, therefore improving response timings to calls as more staff is hired on.”

Featured Image Sign for Denton Fire Station #9 sits in front of the construction for the new station at Denton Enterprise Airport on March 19, 2023. Bren McDonald

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Celie Price

Celie Price

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