March 12, 2014 10:20:25 AM
Nathan Gregory - [email protected]
Columbus Fire and Rescue is now officially one of fewer than 200 fire departments nationwide and the first in Mississippi to receive Accredited Agency status with the Commission on Fire Accreditation International, the department announced Tuesday.
This puts the agency in elite company -- the top 1 percentile of an estimated 38,000 fire departments in the country to hold the distinction.
A Center for Public Safety Excellence Peer Assessment Team came to Columbus in December and evaluated all department activities from its hazardous materials team, safety procedures, equipment and documentation among other facets. After the evaluation, the team announced it would recommend CF&R for the accreditation they formally received Tuesday. A team of local fire department members is in Henderson, Nev. for the CPSE annual conference this week.
Columbus Fire Chief Kenneth Moore, who is widely credited with spearheading the accreditation effort, could not be reached for comment Tuesday but said in a CF&R press release that the achievement demonstrates the agency's commitment to providing the best services possible.
"We have also been able to use the Commission on Fire Accreditation International's process as a proactive mechanism to plan for the future of this agency and locate areas where we can improve the quality of services we provided," Moore said in the release.
CFAI standards dictate a comprehensive amount of self-assessment that allows organizations to examine past, current and future service levels as well as internal performance by documenting all its procedures and policies. The amount of planning and documentation involved can significantly improve a department and its services as well as its future potential, the CFAI website states.
Accreditation is a voluntary process involving a fire department working with a Peer Assessment Team comprised of peers from other agencies to evaluate the overall effectiveness and quality.
In the release, Columbus Mayor Robert Smith commended the agency's accomplishment.
"It shows that the mayor and city council are dedicated to providing the best public safety to the citizens of Columbus," Smith said. "As mayor, I am committed to continue to support the department's strategic plan and the accreditation process. We will continue to improve, promote, and provide public safety to our citizens and we recognize this is a continual improvement process."
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.