International accreditation meaningful for CSFD, citizens
By Stuart Marrs, CSFD Driver/Engineer
To say College Station is a special place isn’t exactly earth-shattering news. Anybody who’s ever been here knows that, and we have an extensive list of national and state recognitions to prove it.
But what you might not know is that College Station recently joined Plano as the only two cities in Texas to have nationally accredited Fire, Police and Public Safety Communications departments.
This spring, the College Station Fire Department became an accredited agency through the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI). We’re one of only seven municipal fire departments in Texas – and 164 in the world — to attain this elite status.
To our firefighters, the recognition is meaningful because it’s bestowed by our peers. To our citizens, it’s clear evidence of our commitment to establish and maintain the highest standards as we strive to provide them with the best, most efficient services.
Accreditation also provides a framework for continually improving every aspect of our operations, which directly impacts the level of service we provide to our growing community.
A long, rigorous process
In 2013, the CSFD was challenged by our City Manager’s Office to renew our goal of international accreditation, a demanding process which requires evaluation in 254 performance areas. An 18-month internal self-assessment highlighted our strengths, exposed our weaknesses, and led to the creation of a strategic plan for continuous improvement.
In January, an independent peer assessment team of fire officers from around the country reviewed our self-assessment and strategic plan, then conducted four days of meticulous on-site inspections.
In March, Fire Chief Eric Hurt led our internal accreditation team to Orlando, Fla., to testify in front of the CFAI Commission. The 11-member panel asked questions regarding our emergency responses, time analysis, risk assessments, and plans for future growth before voting unanimously to grant accredited status to the CSFD.
A comprehensive team effort
Achieving accreditation is a result of the dedicated efforts of an overwhelming majority of our personnel from every level in our department. They were vital in providing data, developing community risk analyses, planning for future growth, researching and writing technical documents, and managing and tracking improvements in intradepartmental programs.
Other city departments – Finance, Human Resources, Water, GIS, Fleet, Planning, and the City Manager’s Office — also made key contributions.
The process helped us better understand the risks in our community and provides a framework for us to constantly evaluate and improve our performance. In fact, to maintain our status as an accredited agency, we’re required to submit annual updates to the CFAI commission that demonstrate how we are addressing our weaknesses, measuring our improvement, and raising our standards.
We gladly accept that challenge because we know it’ll benefit our personnel and most importantly, the public we serve.
Stuart Marrs has been with the College Station Fire Department since 2009. He was previously a firefighter with the Huntsville (Texas) Fire Department. Stuart graduated from Texas A&M in 2006 with a degree in communications.
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