Martin Andrews Talks 9-11, Fire Accreditation at Exchange Club
BY BRIAN JONES
COLUMBUS – Columbus Fire and Rescue Chief Martin Andrews spoke to the Exchange Club Sept. 10.
Andrews spoke about the impact of the 9-11 attacks on emergency responders, as well as taking questions from the audience.
“I started working in emergency services in 1987,” he said. “I was a young man, I was eager and wanted to learn. I joined the fire department on Sept. 30, 1987. We didn’t do a whole lot of calls at that time. We averaged 400-500 calls a year. The scope of what we did at that time was very narrow.
“Ken Moore, who was the chief before I was, was very proactive in getting things set up so that we could be nationally trained,” he said. “Now we are nationally certified. We have people set up that can do hazmat. We have people who are capable of dive and rescue. We have a swift water rescue team, a confined space team, a rope team, a dog that is trained to track live scent. We have bomb awareness technicians. All these things were done through the leadership of Moore and James Massey.
“As a young person, I never envisioned that I would have to use all of the tools that I’ve gotten in my tool belt,” he said. “Every time you go to a school, you get a new tool that you can put in that tool belt. Then when you need it, you can go back and get it.”
The way people look at emergency services changed on Sept. 11, 2001, he said.
“At 8:45 that morning, I think we all remember what we were doing that morning,” he said. “When that first plane crashed into the World Trade Center, we thought it was an accident. Emergency responders responded, because people needed us. Emergency responders ran into a building, it was on fire. Eighteen minutes later, the second plane hits. Now it’s a different game. At that very moment I knew that America was under attack. But I also thought that I could reach into my tool belt and help some of those people. There were 400 police and firemen who ended up getting killed. That caused the realization in me that there’s no way to know what that call I’m going to might bring.
“I was scared,” he said. “I never thought that something like that would happen on our soil. It did something to us that we will never forget. At that part we started being more reactive. We work hard to make sure that we will be able to respond to any situation that arises. Training is a never-ending cycle. We try to make ourselves better, faster and safer so we can provide the services that you deserve. You deserve the best, and in Columbus I feel like you have the best. It’s not because of me. I’m the very last person. Every man and woman there does way more than I do.”0