International accreditation meaningful for CSFD, citizens

(L-R): CFAI Peer Team Leader Scott Avery, Driver/Engineer Stuart Marrs, Assistant Chief Paul Gunnels, CFAI Commission Chair Steven Westermann, Fire Chief Eric Hurt, Public Education Officer Christina Seidel.

(L-R): CFAI Peer Team Leader Scott Avery, Driver/Engineer Stuart Marrs, Assistant Chief Paul Gunnels, CFAI Commission Chair Steven Westermann, Fire Chief Eric Hurt, Public Education Officer Christina Seidel.

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.


1010a8cAbout the Author

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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3 ways Citizens Fire Academy will make a better you in 2016

Citizens Fire Academy

By Christina Seidel, CSFD Public Education Officer

Let me suggest to you that being part of the College Station Citizens Fire Academy will fulfill one or more of your New Year’s resolutions.

Okay, stay with me…

Most of us have lists of resolutions that include things like living a healthier lifestyle, saving more and spending less, and simply enjoying life to the fullest — right? Our free, 12-week Citizens Fire Academy is just the thing!

Live a healthier lifestyle! (more…)

Smoke alarms can help you keep your family safe

By Christina Seidel, CSFD Public Education Officer

Did you know 60 percent of fire fatalities happen in homes that had either malfunctioning smoke alarms or none at all?

With this being Fire Prevention Week, it’s an ideal time to check your smoke alarms.

Smoke alarms should be installed in every bedroom and in the hallway outside a group of bedrooms. In addition, every level of your home should have at least one alarm.


5 tips to help you safely celebrate our independence


By Christina Seidel, CSFD Public Education Officer

When Francis Scott Key wrote about “the bombs bursting in air” he probably didn’t foresee anyone getting hurt in future celebrations of our nation’s independence.

Still, what would a good, old-fashioned Independence Day celebration be without fireworks?

Since the College Station Fire Department wants safety to be everyone’s priority, here are five tips to help you celebrate safely through the dawn’s early light.

1. Note the location of fireworks stands.


New fire engine improves department’s capabilities


By Robert Mumford, Battalion Chief/CSFD Public Information Officer

The College Station Fire Department’s newest fire engine offers improved safety and visibility features, and its advanced technology enhances our ability to protect our citizens.

The $638,000 Pierce Velocity engine went into service last week at Fire Station No. 4 near Easterwood Airport. The truck carries 500 gallons of water, pumps 1,500 gallons per minute, and has a compressed air foam system for the suppression of all types of fires.


3 ways to keep your holidays from going up in flames

By Christina Seidel, CSFD Public Education Officer

Copyright: bilderundvektor / 123RF Stock PhotoThe holiday season represents a time for family fun and good cheer, but Christmas trees, cooking, candles and decorations – not to mention the hectic pace of the season – can greatly increase the risk of home fires.

Fortunately, with a little awareness and some minor adjustments to your cooking and decorating habits, the season can remain festive and safe. The National Fire Protection Association and the College Station Fire Department offer these tips:

  1. Pay attention when cooking.

With unattended cooking being the leading cause of home fires and injuries, we recommend staying in the kitchen while you’re frying, grilling or broiling food. Keep anything that can catch fire away from the stovetop and turn off it off if you leave the kitchen even for a moment. If you’re simmering, boiling, baking or roasting food, check it regularly and use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking.