May 7, 2014 9:58:57 AM
Martin Andrews' family broke out in applause upon learning the 'interim' title was removed from his job position.
"Martin Andrews: Fire Chief," one of his supporters exclaimed.
The Columbus City Council voted to name Andrews chief of Columbus Fire and Rescue and set his salary at $67,000. He had been named interim chief last month after the departure of former chief Kenneth Moore. At that point, the council opted to conduct an internal search of the department for Moore's replacement and only extend the search outside the department if they had not found a suitable candidate.
The former assistant chief to Moore, Andrews has been with the department since 1987. The two worked with the rest of the department to help CF&R achieve national accreditation from the Center for Public Safety Excellence. Columbus has the only fire department in Mississippi with that accreditation.
Andrews said he plans to use suggestions from CPSE's review to continue the improvement of the department's performance and response.
"I'm very elated that the council put its trust in me to take this fire department to the next to the next level," Andrews said. "I look forward to working with the mayor and council and also with the citizens of Columbus to do our very best to make Columbus the safest town in the U.S.A."
He described the recently received accreditation as the first step in the department's mission to eventually reach that goal.
"We will take the recommendations of the accreditation board to start implementing things that will better our department and better serve our community," he said. "Implementing those things means starting to do things better each and every day."
Andrews' hire is the latest in a series of city department head changes. Moore announced his retirement March 18. The council opted to consolidate the offices of federal programs and city planning into the Office of Planning and Community Development. Then city planner Christina Berry was selected to lead the department after the voluntary demotion of Travis Jones to project coordinator. A month to the day of Moore's retirement, Columbus police chief Selvain McQueen retired. On April 30, the council appointed assistant chief Tony Carleton as interim chief. Another internal search is ongoing for a permanent police chief. Mayor Robert Smith said after that announcement that he hoped to have a permanent leader by the end of May.
In other business, the council approved a franchise renewal agreement with Cable One and tabled requests to match cost overruns already agreed to by Lowndes County supervisors for the Columbus Air Force Base firing range construction project. For more information on both developments, see Thursday's edition of The Dispatch.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.
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