‘Firefighters Feeding Families’ Returns For Third Year Collecting Food for area Needy

Leading up to the Christmas holiday members of the Columbia-Richland Fire Department will be mounting their seasonal campaign to help feed the less fortunate.

The third annual ‘Firefighters Feeding Families Holiday Food Drive’ will culminate with a community collection day on Friday December 16, 2022 at CRFD Headquarters. Area citizens are encouraged to swing by the department’s fire museum that day and in the days leading up to it with donations of canned goods and other non-perishable food items. From there donations will be sorted, bagged and distributed to citizens facing food needs this holiday season.

‘Firefighters Feeding Families’ entered its second year last December. By the time the campaign ended roughly 200 households in the Columbia area were provided food through donations.

‘Firefighters Feeding Families’ 2021

“The success of this campaign is entirely made possible thanks to donations from our citizens and community partners,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “This year we once again hope the public will be as generous as possible to help us give area families in need adequate holiday meals.”

Examples of non-perishable items that can be dropped off for the drive include:

  • Canned meats and tuna
  • Canned potatoes, vegetables and fruits
  • Pasta and rice products
  • Canned pasta
  • Canned soups and stews
  • Cereals
  • Canned and dry beans
  • Pasta sauces
  • Nuts and dried fruits

ALL FOOD DONATED MUST NOT BE PAST EXPIRATION. CITZENS ARE ENCORUAGED TO CHECK THE EXPIRATION DATES ON ITEMS BEFORE DROPPING THEM OFF.

All collected items will go directly to support area families in needs. Citizens needing food assistance can call the department Monday through Friday during regular business hours (8 a.m. until 5 p.m.) at 803-545-3700. Messages can be left at that number.

For further information on the campaign, contact PIO Mike DeSumma at 803-413-8555 or by sending an email to michael.desumma@columbiasc.gov.

FD REMINDER: Supervision is Key When Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner

Families around our area will be getting together this weekend for Thanksgiving food and holiday fun. Yet all the merriment can be taken away quickly if a cooking-related fire breaks out.

“Unfortunately Thanksgiving Day is the peak day for these types of fires across our country,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “It’s very important for everyone to understand that while preparing a holiday meal to NEVER leave the cooking unattended. This is especially key if you plan to deep fry a turkey and deal with large amounts of grease. Not paying attention and taking caution can produce a large, dangerous fire quickly.”

Each year Thanksgiving Day is the peak day for home cooking fires in the U.S. according to the National Fire Protection Association. In 2019 alone fire departments across the country responded to an estimated 1,400 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving.

To help ensure your Turkey Day remains trouble free, here are a few safety tips:

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stove top so you can keep an eye on the food.
  • Stay in the home when cooking your turkey, and check on it frequently.
  • Keep children away from the stove. The stove will be hot and kids should stay 3 feet away.

  • Make sure kids stay away from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, gravy or coffee could cause serious burns.
  • Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks or bags.
  • Keep knives out of the reach of children.
  • Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.
  • Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children — up high in a locked cabinet.
  • Never leave a lit candle unattended nor sleep while candles are lit.
  • Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button.
  • If you have a small grease fire on your stovetop and decide to fight it, smother the flames with a lid cover and turn off the burner. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled. If the grease fire is in the oven, close the door and turn the oven off.
  • Keep a Class ABC Dry Chemical Fire Extinguisher handy in the event you have a growing grease fire.  NEVER use water to try to extinguish a grease fire. If you ever have doubts about fighting a small fire get out of your house and call 9-1-1.

Finally…USE EXTREME CAUTION IF YOU PLAN TO DEEP FRY YOUR TURKEY

 

The NFPA has discouraged the use of turkey fryers citing the extreme danger if they’re used improperly. 

If you choose to deep fry your turkey: 

  • Keep the fryer outdoors, on a level surface and at least 10 feet from all combustible materials; preferably on a hard surface such as a driveway.
  • Use an approved fryer. These have four legs, a built-in thermostat, and are stable. You should be easily able to measure the oil’s temperature while cooking it to prevent a fire.
  • Follow all instructions. Even before turning the fryer on, make sure to read all of the instructions. Be careful when choosing the right size, how to cook the turkey, and what kind of oil to use with it.
  • Thaw and dry out the turkey completely before frying!!
  • Never leave the turkey fryer unattended! As soon as you turn the fryer on, never leave it alone. Also remember to use insulated gloves instead of oven mitts; the gloves have more insulation.
  • Be careful of splashing oil! Make sure that the fryer is moved away from all combustible materials, including your property, grass, furnishings, etc.
  • Follow these steps to make sure you use the proper amount of grease:
    • Place the turkey (still in its wrapper) in the pot.
    • Pour water in the pot until it just covers the turkey.
    • Take the turkey out of the pot.
    • On the outside of the pot, mark to water level with a marker
    • This marker represents the correct amount of grease you need in your pot

 

The Columbia-Richland Fire Department would like to wish everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

 

CRFD Asking Citizens to Use Caution While Heating Their Homes

This week according to the National Weather Service, the Columbia area is expected to see below average temperatures for several days. Nightly lows on some evenings could hover around or dip below freezing.

For this reason CRFD wants to remind our citizens of safety precautions that they must take before firing up sources for home heating.

“Fireplaces and space heaters are just a few things that give us trouble each and every year when the temperatures drop,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “The key steps to heating your home safely is to (1) make sure that all heating equipment is working properly, (2) make sure all equipment is powered and used properly and (3) use EXTREME caution when using heating sources that have open flames. Above all else NEVER compromise your safety or the safety of your friends and loved ones in order to heat your home.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries and the third leading cause of home fire deaths. Fire departments across the U.S. responded to an estimated average of 48,530 fires involving heating equipment PER YEAR from 2014 through 2018. These fires resulted in annual loses of 500 civilian deaths and caused thousands of injuries and billions in property damages.

Here’s a few tips to heat your home safely this winter, courtesy of NFPA:

  • Keep anything that can burn (including carpet) at least 3 feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.  Only use space heaters on hard surfaces e.g.: hardwood, tile, etc.

  • Have a 3-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional. Also make sure your home heating equipment is UL  listed.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed. Also consider purchasing space heaters with a ‘kill switch’ that will turn the unit off if it tips over.
  • Power your space heater by plugging the device DIRECTLY into a wall outlet! DO NOT use extension cords or power strips to power the space heater! Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
  • Make sure your fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month.
  • Never use a portable generator inside your home. Place it outside and at least 10 feet away from the building.
  • Install wood burning stoves following manufacturer’s instructions or have a professional do the installation. All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.
  • Install and maintain CO alarms to avoid the risk of CO poisoning. If you smell gas in your gas heater, do not light the appliance. Leave the home immediately and call your local fire department or gas company. Make sure that CO alarms are on each level of your home.

Firefighters Want You to be Fire Safe While Enjoying Halloween Tricks & Treats

With families across our area getting ready to have a festive Halloween evening of costumes and candy, the Columbia-Richland Fire Department wants to remind everyone to avoid the fire-related dangers that can appear around the holiday.

Citizens are encouraged to avoid using open-flames as part of Halloween decorations and costumes and to use costumes with non-flammable materials.

“Dry materials like crepe paper should be avoid at all costs as they can easily ignite if they are placed near a heating source,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “Having a fire can turn your Halloween night scary for real so when at all possible use battery-powered decorations for lighting and avoid open flame candles.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association decorations are the first thing to ignite in roughly 800 home fires reported each year. More than one-third of those fires were started by a candle.

Additionally firefighters ask you to consider the following tips:

  • When choosing a costume, stay away from long trailing fabric. If your child is wearing a mask, make sure the eyeholes are large enough so he or she can see out.
  • Provide children with flashlights to carry for lighting or glow sticks as part of their costume.
  • Dried flowers, cornstalks and crepe paper catch fire easily. Keep all decorations away from open flames and other heat sources like light bulbs and heaters.

  • Use a battery-operated candle or glow-stick in jack-o-lanterns. If you use a real candle, use extreme caution. Make sure children are watched at all times when candles are lit. When lighting candles inside jack-o-lanterns, use long, fireplace-style matches or a utility lighter. Be sure to place lit pumpkins well away from anything that can burn and far enough out of the way of trick-or-treaters, doorsteps, walkways and yards.
  • Remember to keep exits clear of decorations, so nothing blocks escape routes.
  • Make sure all smoke alarms in the home are working.
  • Tell children to stay away from open flames including jack-o-lanterns with candles in them. Be sure they know how to stop, drop and roll if their clothing catches fire. (Have them practice, stopping immediately, dropping to the ground, covering their face with hands, and rolling over and over to put the flames out.)
  • Extinguish candles by taking away oxygen from the wick. You can use a candlesnuffer to extinguish your candles or other non-combustible materials.  Avoid the use of candles in the bedroom and other areas where people may fall asleep.
  • Keep candles at least 1 foot (30 centimeters) away from anything that can burn.
  • Use candleholders that are sturdy, and won’t tip over easily.

  • Put candleholders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface.
  • Light candles carefully. Keep your hair and any loose clothing away from the flame.
  • Don’t burn a candle all the way down — put it out before it gets too close to the holder or container.
  • Never use a candle if oxygen is used in the home.
  • Have flashlights and battery-powered lighting ready to use during a power outage. Never use candles.

Finally, NEVER ever leave a child alone in a room with a burning candle!  Keep matches and lighters up high and out of children’s reach, in a locked cabinet.

The Columbia-Richland Fire Department hopes that everyone has a scary yet safe 2022 Halloween!

 

CRFD Promotes 20 Members During Mid 2022

Roughly 20 members of the Columbia-Richland Fire Department earned promotions to new ranks of leadership during the spring, summer and early fall months of 2022. Many of them would officially be recognized for their achievements during a promotional ceremony held at department headquarters on the evening of Wednesday, October 12, 2022. Others honorees were recognized at earlier dates during the year.

The department is proud to recognize the following members on their recent promotions and appointments:

 

Promoted to Senior Firefighter

Jackson Day                         Ryan Espling                          Zakary Humphries

Matthew Ives                            Caleb Jacobs                       Cruz Mata

Nathan Poore

 

Promoted to Volunteer Engineer

Emily Joyce

 

Promoted to Engineer

Luis Brown                                 Reinaldo Sabb

 

Promoted to Fire Captain

James Ashford                            Luke Donovan                       Austin Graham

Corey Grooms                             Michael LeGrand                   John Paolucci

Kenneth Warr

 

Promoted to Battalion Chief

Jacob Eller                                     Gregory Walker

 

Promoted to Division Chief of Special Operations

Chad Harmon

 

2022 Fire Prevention Week Kicks Off With Community Parade & Block Party

CRFD firetrucks would roll through communities along Ridgewood Avenue in Columbia for the annual Fire Prevention Parade on Saturday morning October 8, 2022.

This was the Columbia-Richland Fire Department’s first time holding the event during Fire Prevention Week in three years. The parade had to be cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Our partners at South Carolina State Fire took part in this year’s parade as well as the marching band and cheerleading team for nearby Eau Claire High School.

The parade made its way down down Ridgewood Avenue and ended at Hyatt Park, where a community block party was held afterwards.

CRFD thanks everyone that took part in this year’s parade and wants to remind all of our citizens to please develop and practice fire escape plans for your homes.

Experienced Drivers Sought for Tanker Driver Positions

Drivers who possess at least five years of progressive fire service experience are encouraged to apply for open tanker driver positions with the Columbia-Richland Fire Department.

CRFD tanker drivers will have the primary responsibility of moving equipment and resources to the scenes of major emergencies such as structure fires and hazardous material incidents. Other duties include handling traffic and crowd control on scenes as well as supporting fire suppression operations.

Starting annual pay for the position is $36, 737. Tanker drivers also will receive a full benefits package from the City of Columbia and receive training in valuable life-saving skills.

Prospective candidates can apply for the position by clicking here.

 

CRFD Welcomes 11 New Firefighters Following Summer Graduation Ceremony

Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins swore in 11 new full-time firefighters for the department as commencement exercises for CRFD Recruit Class 2022-03 were held on the evening of Thursday, August 18 at Dreher High School.

11 members of class 22-03 were officially badged by Chief Jenkins after completing weeks of training at the department’s fire academy.

“Our department is thrilled to have these new firefighters joining our ranks,” Chief Jenkins said, “Each one of them is ready to provide our citizens with the highest quality of service after 16 weeks of physical training and rigorous study. I look forward to following their careers with CRFD in the months and years ahead.”

The Columbia-Richland Fire Department extends its congratulations to our new full-time firefighters.

RECRUIT CLASS 2021-03

Ben Boyette
Ryan Boyle
Thomas Hamberis
Melanie Henderson
Josef Lanz
Caleb Lewis
Kristofer McClain
Jordan Morgan
Adam Polston
Khalid Ramsundar
Samuel Twigger

CRFD Crews Hit the Streets for National Night Out 2022

The Columbia-Richland Fire Department was once again proud to join our partners in law enforcement for a fun evening of community engagement during National Night Out.

Each year National Night Out is held the first Tuesday in August to promote dialogue and cohesion between first responding agencies and the communities that they serve.

On the evening of August 2 CRFD crews and department leaders attended several neighborhood events around the City of Columbia as well as Richland County.

CRFD Honored By Area Leaders for ‘Fire Safe SC’ Designation

During the month of July elected leaders in the City of Columbia and Richland County recognized CRFD for once again earning the title of a ‘Fire Safe Community’ in South Carolina.

This was the third year in a row that the department received that title from ‘Fire Safe South Carolina’ for our constant work in ‘Community Risk Reduction.’ Over the course of 2021 CRFD staff completed 578 public education events, 23 fire safety education presentations and 62 home fire safety surveys to prevent fires and fire-related injuries in our communities.

Richland County Council Meeting, July 12

On Tuesday, July 12 the Richland County Council presented CRFD Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins and members of our command staff with an honorary proclamation for the achievement. Later on July 26 the Columbia City Council also presented the department with an honorary proclamation naming the day as ‘Columbia-Richland Fire Department Appreciation Day’ in the City of Columbia.