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Fire department earns re-accreditation

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Assistant Rocky Mount Fire Chief Ronnie Raper, Fire Chief Mike Varnell and Tommy Thompson, CFAI chairman, hold the department's international re-accreditation plaque.

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BY LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writer

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Rocky Mount Mayor David Combs thanked the city's fire department this week for once again winning international re-accreditation, which lowers insurance rates for property owners.

“This is a two- or three-year process, and we thank you for undertaking it,” Combs said during Monday's council meeting.

The fire department recently received Internationally Accredited Agency status with the Commission on Fire Accreditation International. Departments must meet the criteria established through the CFAI’s voluntary self-assessment and accreditation model of continuous improvement. Just 250 agencies worldwide have earned the coveted status with the CFAI and the Center for Public Safety Excellence.

The process is voluntary and provides an agency with an improvement model to assess its service delivery and performance internally and then works with a team of peers from other agencies to evaluate the completed self-assessment.

Rocky Mount Fire Chief Mike Varnell said the department’s achievement demonstrates its commitment to provide the highest quality of service to the community.

“We have been able to use the CFAI’s model as a proactive mechanism to plan for the future of our department and locate areas where we can improve on the quality of the services we provided,” Varnell said.

Accreditation is based on a model developed by the International City-County Managers Association and the International Association of Fire Chiefs. The model enables organizations to examine past, current and future service levels and internal performance and compare them to current research and industry best practices. This process leads to a more efficient and effective emergency service organization, according to information from CFAI.

To obtain accreditation, departments are measured by several standards, including everything one can think of, Varnell said.

“It changes all the time and we must change with it,” Varnell said.

Departments are accredited on five-year cycles. This is Rocky Mount's fourth consecutive time earning the Internationally Accredited Agency honor. The department maintains a vision driven by the continuous improvement philosophy embedded within the fire accreditation model, Varnell said.

“While the recognition is a tremendous honor, the validation of excellence this award represents for our department members, city leaders and the community is what’s most important,” Varnell said, adding that accreditation confirms what the city residents already know: Their fire department is a high-performing organization that positively impacts its community on a daily basis.

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