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SK Fire Rescue gets its third accreditation

South Kitsap Fire Rescue received its third accreditation on Aug. 24.

The department is one of only 148 of the 33,000 fire departments in the United States to be accredited by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International, and one of about five accredited fire departments in Washington.

“The reason they’re so few is that it’s a lengthy process that requires a lot of in-depth looking at how we do business, and it takes time and energy to determine where you’re strong and where you’re weak,” said Doug Richards, a Battalion Chief at South Kitsap Fire Rescue.

South Kitsap Fire Rescue has been accreted since 2000.

The reaccreditation process costs about $5,000, and fire departments wishing to maintain their accredited status must also pay a $1,200 annual fee and show the accreditation agency that they’ve improved and are working towards accomplishing departmental goals.

“They really go through our organization with a fine-tooth comb to determine if we’re working efficiently with the money we’re given with the tax dollar,” said Richards.

During the accreditation process, departments set goals for areas in which they’d like to improve. South Kitsap Fire Rescue would like to get better at disaster planning, fire prevention, technical rescue.

“These are just areas where we can train our crews to be more efficient that don’t cost the community additional dollars,” said Richards.

The department would also like to eventually shorten the length of time it takes for them to respond to emergency calls.

The best way to do that is to hire more people, Richards says.

“We’d like to put more people on, but we realize that the budget and funding won’t support that,” he said.

The department also tries to rearrange its workers so that their being used most efficiently.

“There’s only so much shuffeling of the deck we can do,” said Richards. “What it comes down to is the number of calls we get and the number of people on duty.”

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