Lamar Fire Chief Receives Prestigious Award

Marshall Cook (2)

Lamar Fire Chief, Marshall Cook, received word July 8 that he had been accepted by the Center for Public Safety Excellence to receive accreditation as a Chief Fire Officer.  Cook said several levels of performance have to be attained before an application can be submitted to the internationally based, non-profit organization.

“I became friends with the former fire chief of Pueblo, Chris Riley, who now commands the Colorado Springs Departments,” Cook explained.  “He is big on accreditations and had the entire Pueblo Fire Department achieve the CPSE standards.  It’s one of only seven in the entire state to do so.”  Cook stated that the accreditation award demonstrates that the recipient has met the professional standards of the industry-wide organization.

“At first, I didn’t even meet the minimum standards to apply when I became interested in CPSE, as I needed to have a Bachelor’s Degree which I didn’t get until 2012,” Cook said.  He explained the ratings come from a point system which requires 150 just to submit your application.  You’re judged on many levels, he stated, including education, size of your fire department for staff and equipment, years of command service and education level.  “Once I had my degree and applied, I came in with 260 points towards my application.”

After working with an assigned mentor and completing a 52 page application document over several months, Cook said he received word of his acceptance on July 8.  He added that he can’t rest on his laurels, as the accreditation only lasts for three years.  “If I reapply, I have to show that I have made improvements in numerous areas such as teaching at a state level, submit published or unpublished materials, college transcripts, community service and other related areas,” Cook stated.

He said he’s proud of these accomplishments including being the first Lamar Fire Chief to have an undergraduate degree and the first in the 126 year history of the department to be accredited by the CPSE.  He’d like to see the entire department qualify the way Pueblo did, but that would take about four years and cost the department from $4,000 to $5,000 and that just isn’t in the budget.  There’s no money or financial gain for the recognition, Cook explained.  He believes the benefit comes from letting the community realize that now the Lamar Police Chief and Lamar Fire Chief have achieved a level of proficiency that is recognized on an international level.  Cook stated that Lamar Police Chief Gary McCrea is similarly rated by the organization as of last year.

“We’re believers in education in the department,” Cook said, “With more members with degrees than ever before.”  The chief said the department is adopting the SOP, Standard Operating Procedures, used by the Pueblo Department and altering them to fit the scope of the smaller department in Lamar.  “We always want to be able to focus on ways to improving our level of service to the community,” he said.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: communityEducationFeaturedFire Department-RespondersLamarProwers CountyPublic Safety


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