By Daniel Silliman
Cedric Scott has never seen a city like College Park. It's a little city, he said, with a huge airport, two major intestates, a convention center and a collection of hotels, a historic district and neighborhoods full of new homes.
Since he was appointed fire chief of College Park and took the spot on Dec. 10, Scott has been asking people if they can think of any city like College Park.
"No one can find a city that compares to what we have, our size here and what we deal with everyday," Scott said. "It was just a great opportunity for me to come to College Park and be a part of the many, many great things that are going on here. It's the 'City on the Move.' Of course, that's the phrase that's been coined by our city manager, and it is. It's a city on the move."
A Macon native, Scott has been a firefighter since 1987 and comes to the northern Clayton County city by way of Waycross, Ga. There, he served as fire department chief for more than two years.
City Manager William Johnson said Scott was unanimously chosen by the search committee, because he is "capable, distinguished and has a great sense of organizational management skills."
Scott, twice named Macon's firefighter of the year, said he knew he wanted to be a firefighter when, as a little kid in the middle-Georgia city, he watched firefighters training.
"I lived in close proximity to two fire stations," he said, "so I often saw the fire department, on calls, come by my house. I often saw the firefighters walking and running as a group. I wanted to be a part of that group."
College Park Mayor Jack Longino said it was Scott's 20-year record of experience that made him stand out, among the candidates for chief.
"This was very impressive, during our selection process," Longino said. "There were many qualified candidates, but Chief Scott's experience and willingness to lead stood out."
The Macon and Waycross veteran has now taken the top spot at the 66-member department in College Park, and he hopes his legacy will be one of service and commitment.
"I want to be a blessing to the community, to the department, and to my family," Scott said, "and I want to be known as a servant of this department, and of this community. Others might describe a fire chief in other ways, but to me, it's being a servant and that's how I want to be known."
Scott has begun his time as fire chief by reviewing the department and the city, and looking at ways to improve the department's insurance service office rating and the possibility of getting the department accredited.
Lowering the city's ISO rating -- currently at four, on a scale of one-to-10 -- would improve insurance rates for the College Park's businesses and residents. It would have an immediate effect on the city, Scott said.
"I want to get us as low as I can," he said. "I don't know how low we can go, because I don't have a study in my hands. I'm going to do a thorough assessment of the city and get my hands around how low we can go with the rating."
His second project will be to move the department toward accreditation.
"You say you're a good department, well this makes you prove that you are," Scott said. "That's a goal of mine, down the road, because I want to establish us as a community-oriented fire department and I want to build on what's already been started."