LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - The La Crosse Fire Department is receiving international recognition.
The department has been working towards accreditation for years, and it received a unanimous vote approving it this week.
The Fire Department is now one of about 200 fire departments from around the world receiving accreditation.
Chief Gregg Cleveland just arrived back in La Crosse Friday from the accreditation commission in Dallas. He said this award should not only make residents feel safer in the case of an emergency, but it's going to continue making the department even better moving forward.
Receiving accreditation as a fire department is a lengthy, difficult, yet voluntary process.
"You're basically putting yourself out there for the accreditation process to go through and do an assessment and discover the good, the bad and the ugly," La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat said.
But Cleveland said it's all worth it when you receive this.
"We've had independent people from all over the country come review our, programs policies and procedures, and they've said, 'Yes, you meet the standards for world-class organization,'" Cleveland said.
During this nearly seven-year process, the La Crosse Fire Department was given a list with 19 recommendations of things it needs to improve.
"We were able to complete eight of them already prior to the meeting, so I think that really impressed the commission with our commitment to addressing all 19 recommendations," Cleveland said.
The remaining 11 recommendations are mostly long-term projects.
"Most of these things are no big surprise to us because they've already been identified in our strategic plan that we've already laid out to the council and to the community," Cleveland said.
Things such as the need for a new fire station, continuous monitoring of response times, and staffing are all identified as needing improvement. Kabat said they'll all be addressed beginning next year.
"It's a very strong indication of the professionalism and really the goal of the Fire Department in the city to look for continuous improvement and to have a Fire Department that we can all be very proud of," Kabat said.
Kabat said with a professional, accredited fire department with quick response times and the ability to respond to many different types of emergencies like the La Crosse Fire Department can, homeowners insurance is typically less in La Crosse compared to a community without a high-level department.
The Fire Department needs to apply for reaccreditation every five years.
The entire process cost the department about $10,000.
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