Voice of the people: Martin Andrews




Benefits of accreditation


Being the best requires hard work. Being the best student, parent, business owner, athlete or other chosen path in life is not met by taking shortcuts or lowering standards. Instead, being the best takes dedication, training and learning from others. That is what the accreditation for Columbus Fire & Rescue is about.


Some citizens have asked, "How does accreditation help me?" Here are examples:



Because of what we have learned and practiced in the accreditation process, our firefighters are on the way to emergency medical calls in an average of 60 seconds or less from the time of dispatch. For fire and rescue calls, we are on the way an average of 80 seconds or less. Calls through 911 are dispatched faster, an average of under two minutes. When your house is on fire, a minimum of 12 firefighters are on the way to help you where pre-accreditation it would have been only six.


Every call we answer every day is studied, analyzed, mapped and reported to help us arrive quicker and prepared to help you in case of an emergency. In Cady Hills alone, we took over one minute of time off our response for help because of what we have and are learning through accreditation.


We protect over 25,000 residents and visitors of Columbus, millions of dollars of businesses, Mississippi University for Women and assist Columbus Air Force Base. We protect your homes, your schools and the roads and railways that cross our city.


Another accreditation benefit is our city has a fire rating of 3. Only four cities in the state have such a good rating. The State Rating Bureau does use the training and reports and goals we meet through accreditation in their judgment to lower or raise our rating.


An accreditation benefit citizens don't see is the safety of our firefighters. An August 2017 trailer-home fire caused two firefighters to lose their way inside the burning structure. They were running out of air and could not find their way out.


Because of the training and procedures put into place through the accreditation program, two other firefighters on a Rescue Team outside the building were on the way in to save these men when they found their way out. Had this program not been in place, both could have easily perished.


Meeting accreditation standards is not easy. The department must meet over 86 core competencies and 166 specific competencies covering 10 categories of operations. During the accreditation hearings, commissioners ask questions based on these competencies to determine if the department is meeting these high standards. This is especially true for recommendations made to the department during the site visit. These questions are answered by subject matter experts within the department and from city leadership.


The U.S. Census Bureau lists 346 cities in Mississippi, but only one, Columbus, has an accredited fire department. I believe most citizens in other municipalities would be grateful for the protection from an accredited department.


Why would we consider lowering our standards of public safety? I assure you that the person calling for help on the next fire or medical dispatch we receive will benefit from our work.


Nothing is free including being the best in public safety.


Martin Andrews


Chief, Columbus Fire


& Rescue




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