COLUMBUS, Miss. (WTVA) — The Columbus Fire Department hopes to make history by becoming the first fire department in the Magnolia State to become nationally accredited.
The efforts started in December 2010, and now after three years, firefighters are awaiting word from an international organization that evaluates departments to find out if Columbus has met the high standard.
"It has been a lengthy process, but it has been a process that we have enjoyed doing and going through," said Martin Andrews, assistant fire chief. "We have made any strides even before the accreditation came in. It is all about making the department better to serve the community in which we live."
Even though it is a lengthy process for a fire department to achieve accreditation, once they are approved and become accredited, there are a lot of benefits for the fire department, the city and residents.
"The department is placed on a level playing field with other departments that are accredited when we apply for competitive federal grants. Second, it identifies what the department is doing well, but more importantly, areas that we can improve," said Mike Chandler, captain and accreditation manager.
If the fire department is approved for accreditation, it anticipates other departments in Mississippi following.
"We're hoping accreditation that will catch on with other departments. Several departments have contacted me in the last several months, and they are interested in going through the process," said Chandler.
"We want it to spread just like wildfire because becoming accredited for us is just a step in the process of bringing it to the state of Mississippi where it will be better for the citizens," said Andrews.
If approved for accreditation, the Columbus Fire Department will be one of about 200 in the United States to achieve this status.