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CFD among City of Columbia departments to launch partnership with FirstNet

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Contributed by Taylor Wright, City of Columbia Mayor’s Office

The City of Columbia has joined forces with the world’s largest telecommunications company, AT&T, to deploy the public safety communications platform FirstNet. The effort is the largest FirstNet deployment in South Carolina.

Mayor Benjamin and Columbia Fire Department and Police Department officials joined Terrence Ford, Director of Legislative Affairs for AT&T South Carolina, on Monday August 19, 2019 at a press conference to announce the new technology.

Columbia Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins & Mayor Steven Benjamin at a press conference to announce the city’s partnership with FirstNet on August 19, 2019.

“We are excited to work with AT&T to provide this critical resource to our first responders in an effort to aid our public safety measures,” said Mayor Steve Benjamin. “It is critical that our first responders can communicate every day and especially during an emergency. FirstNet will make this communication more effective than ever before. We’re looking forward to working with our partners to maximize the benefits of this innovative technology which will help make our communities safer.”

FirstNet is a nationwide, public safety broadband platform dedicated to America’s first responders. Backed by Congress, it is designed to strengthen and modernize public safety communications, helping first responders access critical information during emergencies. FirstNet is being built by AT&T in a public-private partnership with the FirstNet Authority, an independent agency within the federal government.

“FirstNet is a communications system purpose-built to support the important work of first responders and represents a giant leap in communications capabilities for the public safety community,” said Terrence Ford, Director of Legislative Affairs for AT&T South Carolina. “We are excited to work with Mayor Benjamin and other city leaders to bring the benefits of FirstNet to the Columbia community and its first responders.”

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Firefighters canvas Columbia, Richland County for 2019 National Night Out

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On the night of August 6, 2019, Columbia Richland firefighters once again took part in celebrating ties between first responders and the communities that they serve.

Department crews attended several events for the 2019 National Night Out. From the St. Andrews area to Lower Richland County our firefighters were focused on sharing important information while also taking time to have fun with our community neighbors.

We want to thank the many neighborhoods that welcomed us to their events for what was an enjoyable evening.

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Three homes destroyed and two others damaged by 2-Alarm fire in Summit Community

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Sixteen people were left displaced by a massive 2-alarm fire that ripped through several homes on Founders Lake Court on July 30, 2019.

About 50 responders with Columbia Richland Fire were called out to the scene. The first crews to arrive found heavy fire in three homes. Two adjacent properties were also damaged due to the extreme heat.

Not long after arriving on scene firefighters called for a second alarm which brought more support.

One firefighter was treated for heat exhaustion and a resident of one of the homes was treated and transported by EMS as a precaution. No other injuries were reported.

The Richland County Fire Marshal’s Office later determined that the fire originated behind one of the homes that was destoryed in the area of the air conditioning unit. An exact source of ignition has not been determined and no foul play in the incident is suspected.

The SC Red Cross was called in to assist the many residents who were left displaced by the fire.

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CFD welcomes 12 new firefighters into department’s ranks

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Columbia Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins officially confirmed 12 new firefighters for the department as members of the 2019-01 CFD Recruit Class graduated on July 25, 2019.

Members of Recruit Class 2019-01 with Fire Chief   Aubrey D. Jenkins

Each recruit was badged by Chief Jenkins at a ceremony held inside the Denny Auditorium on the campus of the South Carolina Fire Academy while their friends and loved ones looked on.


All members of class 19-01 will report to work beginning this Saturday July 27, 2019.






The department would like to congratulate the members of Recruit Class 2019-01


Joshua Barfield

 Matthew Birnie

 Christopher Chewning

 Ryan Espling

 Alexander Fant

 Ryan Hall

 Cameron Ingram

 Cameron Jones

 Kevin McDonald

 Kevin Page

 Peyton Simien

 William Slicer

The department also presented several awards during the ceremony including the Maltese Cross Award and the Bryan P. Roberts Award. Recruit Cameron Ingram received the Maltese Cross while Recruit Christopher Chewning received the Bryan P. Roberts Award.

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Residents encouraged to test smoke alarms following product recall

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Columbia Richland Fire is asking all residents who currently are using Universal Security Instruments brand smoke alarms to test the devices as soon as possible.

This comes after the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a recall for the alarms with model numbers MI3050S and MI3050SB. The recall also applies to USI brand alarms with date codes between 2015JAN19 and 2016JUL11. The smoke alarms are white in color and 5½  inches in diameter.  “Universal” and “Smoke & Fire Alarm” are printed on the front cover of the alarm. The label on the back of the alarm lists the model number and date code.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission these alarms can have a misaligned internal switch, which can cause them to not activate properly. In total the recall affects about 180,000 manufactured alarms.

If you have one or multiple smoke alarms designed by Universal Security Instruments in your home or business the department STRONGLY encourages that you test them as soon as possible.

According to the recall, if the alarm sounds when you press the test button then no further action is required.

If you have one of these alarms and it fails to sound when tested please contact our Fire Education Officer Bengie Leverett at (803)545-4162.

For further information concerning the recall click here.

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Citizens encouraged to keep safety in mind while celebrating July 4th Holiday

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With America’s day of independence set to be celebrated this week Columbia Richland Fire is once again asking area residents to exercise caution while using fireworks.   

“The Fourth of July holiday is about getting together with our friends and loved ones for food and fun,” said Columbia Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “Unfortunately that fun can be shattered if celebratory fireworks are used improperly. Too often our firefighters have had to respond to property fires and emergency medical calls due to fireworks.”

“This year we are once again stressing that area residents read all instructions carefully and take every precaution possible to prevent fireworks-related mishaps,” Jenkins added.

According to the National Fire Protection Association fireworks start an average of 18,500 fire per year and have caused up to $43 million in property damages. In 2017, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 12,900 people for fireworks related injuries.

CFD is encouraging everyone to put safety first when using any fireworks by following these safety tips. 

  • Attend a professional show instead of holding your own.
  • Always read and follow directions on each firework.
  • Only use fireworks outdoors, away from homes, dry grass, and trees.
  • Keep a bucket of water, a fire extinguisher or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Always have an adult present when shooting fireworks.
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place.
  • Never re-ignite malfunctioning fireworks.
  • Wear protective eye glasses and gloves.
  • Never hold a lit firework item in your hand.
  • Adults should always handle fireworks and not children.


Also, if your plans for the July 4th holiday include a cookout, please keep these tips in mind for outdoor grilling:

  • Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.
  • The grill should be placed at least 10 feet away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill area.
  • Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
  • Never leave your grill unattended.
  • Always make sure your gas grill lid is open before lighting it.

For charcoal grills:

  • There are several ways to get the charcoal ready to use. Charcoal chimney starters allow you to start the charcoal using newspaper as a fuel.
  • If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire
  • Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.
  • There are also electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire. Be sure to use an extension cord for outdoor use.

When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.

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CFD steps up for Fire Rescue SC 2019

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Columbia Richland Fire would play a supporting role for the annual Fire Rescue SC Conference.

For the second straight year the conference was held in the capital city, going from June 24 to June 29. Firefighters representing departments across the state were in attendance. Activities were held at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center as well as other area sites.

The department’s training complex would play host to SCFR’s Hand in Hand Engine School. Over three days firefighters in attendance learned tips in several areas of firefighting, including hose deployment and nozzle techniques. The training was provided by staff with Hornet Fire Training and supported by CFD engineers.

CFD members would also be active supporting activities at the convention center over the course of the week. Several hours were put in by the members of Recruit Class 2019-01 who helped setup for the conference and also worked on site during it.

Recruit Class 19-01 members with SC Governor Henry McMaster during Fire Rescue SC 2019.
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CFD firefighters net more than $130,000 to help in the fight against Muscular Dystrophy

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Columbia Richland firefighters marked the success of the department’s 2019 ‘Fill the Boot’ campaign as they presented a ceremonial check to the Muscular Dystrophy Association on June 12, 2019.

From March 20 through March 22, CFD fire crews collected donations from the public at 17 total intersections in the City of Columbia and Richland County. By the end of the campaign a grand total of $130,005.68 was raised.

All of the funds will go to support the Muscular Dystrophy Association in providing patient care services for MD in the Columbia area as well as Charleston and Greenville. Each year the campaign also helps local children living with MD attend summer camps.

“This is where all the hard work truly pays off,” said Columbia Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “Our firefighters put a lot of time and effort into collecting and they do it all knowing that every dollar raised will make a huge difference for the MDA. I am proud of the great partnership we have with the organization and our joint effort to help those living with neuromuscular diseases.”

“I would also like to give a resounding thanks to our leaders in the City of Columbia and Richland County for their yearly support of the campaign by allowing us to collect on the streets,” Chief Jenkins added.

Muscular Dystrophy is a group of diseases that cause progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass in patients. Complications from MD can lead to trouble walking, curvature of the spine and problems with the heart, breathing and swallowing. Across the U.S. hundreds of thousands of people are impacted by MD diseases.

In attendance to accept the check for the Muscular Dystrophy Association was Suzanne Bland, who is executive director for MDA Greater Carolinas.

“For more than six decades, firefighters have fueled MDA’s mission to find treatments and cures for muscle-debilitating diseases, and the 2019 Columbia Fire Department ‘Fill the Boot’ results are a perfect example of their dedication,” Bland said, “We are extremely grateful to have the support of these truly selfless heroes, as well as the entire Midlands community. It is with their generosity that we will be able to empower MDA families with life-enhancing resources and support, including the MDA Summer Camp and the MDA Care Centers, that open new possibilities and maximize independence so our MDA families can experience the world without any limits.”

MDA is the nonprofit health agency dedicated to curing muscular dystrophy through worldwide research. The association also provides comprehensive health care and support services.

MDA’s relationship with the Columbia Fire Department goes back more than 50 years. CFD’s ‘Fill the Boot’ campaign grew in the late 1990’s when our firefighters were allowed to collect in the intersections and on duty. At that time, the department was inspired by Taylor McEntire, the grandson of one of our retired battalion chiefs. Taylor was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. To this day his spirit continues to be a driving force behind ‘Fill the Boot’ that has helped families throughout the Midlands.

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2-Alarm fire rips through Northeast apartment building

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Nearly a dozen Columbia Richland fire crews responded to northeast Richland County on May 31, 2019 after an apartment building fire reached 2-alarm status.

Nobody was injured when the fire ripped through six units of a building at Killian Lakes Apartments and Townhomes. Roughly 50 members of the department were called out to the complex after the fire broke out around 5 p.m.

A total of 12 apartments inside the building were affected.

The Richland County Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating what caused the fire.

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Prisma Health physicians get up close look at firefighting during training visit

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For the second straight year Columbia Richland Fire hosted area physicians for a morning of education and outreach at the CFD training complex.

The focus of this year’s exercise on May 22, 2019 was learning about the physical and stress-related injuries that a major fire can cause. About 30 resident physicians in emergency medicine at Prisma Health-Midlands took part.

Resident physicians with Prisma Health trying on firefighting gear

Following a morning lecture hospital staffers got to try on actual pieces of firefighting gear and equipment to get a feel for their sizes and weights. Afterward they observed CFD crews conduct a simulation exercise that entailed fighting a house fire and rescuing a victim inside.

The purpose of the day was to give the physicians an up close look at the physical demands of firefighting, brief them on how fire crews rehabilitate while fighting a fire and explain the types of injuries that victims of a fire can suffer.

The hope is that will give them added knowledge while treating fire victims as well as firefighters who have been injured in the line of duty.

“It’s important for our physicians to know the stresses they’re going through,” said Spencer Robinson, who is a DO with Prisma Health and also serves as the medical director for the CFD.

Resident physicians tour the CFD burn building before the fire simulation

“I think it makes us better physicians when we can empathize with our patients,” he added.

Several of the physicians will be concluding their residencies with Prisma Health-Midlands over the coming months and moving on to new jobs at hospitals across the country.

Last year many of the same physicians came to the training grounds to learn about vehicle extrications and how firefighters help victims of car wrecks.

Staff with Richland County EMS also were on hand and took part in the exercise.