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Keep Your Holidays From Going Up in Flames!

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Columbia Fire Department Offers Fire Prevention Tips for a Safe and Festive Holiday Season.

For most of us, the holiday season represents a time for family festivities and good cheer. What few of us consider is that the holiday season is a time when there is an increased risk of home fires. Many households engage in holiday activities that serve as some of the leading causes of U.S. home fires, including cooking. Christmas trees, candle usage and holiday decorations also significantly contribute to the seasonal causes of home fires. Add to that the hectic nature of the holidays, when people are trying to accomplish multiple tasks at one time, and the chance for home fires grows even more.

“As everyone gets busier during the holidays, we often become rushed, distracted or tired,” says Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins. “That’s when home fires are more likely to occur.”

Fortunately, with a little added awareness and some minor adjustments to holiday cooking and decorating, the season can remain festive and safe for everybody. “By taking some preventive steps and following simple rules of thumb, most home fires can be prevented,” says Chief Jenkins.

With unattended cooking as the leading cause of U.S. home fires and home fire injuries, the Columbia Fire Department urges you to stay in the kitchen while you’re frying, grilling, boiling, or broiling food, just to name a few. Most cooking fires involve the stovetop, so keep anything that can catch fire away from it, and turn off the stove when you leave the kitchen, even if it’s for a short period of time. If you’re simmering, baking or roasting food, check it regularly and use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking and never cook when you’re sleepy or while taking medicine that makes you drowsy. The Columbia Fire Department also suggests creating a “kid-free zone” of at least three feet around the stove and areas where hot food and drinks are prepared or carried.

Candles are widely used in homes throughout the holidays, and December is the peak month for home candle fires. The non-profit National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) statistics show that two of every five home decoration fires are started by candlesChief Jenkins encourages residents to consider using flameless candles, which look and smell like real candles. However, if you do use traditional candles, keep them at least 12” away from anything that can burn, and remember to blow them out when you leave the room or go to bed. Use candle holders that are sturdy, won’t tip over and are placed on uncluttered surfaces. Avoid using candles in the bedroom where more than one-third of U.S. candle fires begin or other areas where people may fall asleep. Lastly, never leave a child or pet alone in a room with a burning candle.

According to NFPA, U.S. fire departments respond to an average of 200 home structure fires between 2011-2015, involving Christmas trees. Forty percent of those fires were due to electrical malfunctions and 26% were a result of a heat source that was too close to the tree. The Columbia Fire Department offers the following advice for picking, placing and lighting the tree:

  • If you have an artificial tree, be sure it’s labeled, certified or identified by the manufacturer as fire-retardant.
  • If you choose a fresh tree, make sure the green needles don’t fall off when touched; before placing it in the stand, cut 2” from the base of the trunk. Add and maintain at least 2” of water to the tree above the stem daily.
  • Make sure the supporting device is strong enough to support the tree to prevent tipping.
  • Refrain from overloading an outlet with excessive decorations using multi-plugs and cube adapters. 
  • Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit, and is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, space heaters, radiators, candles and heat vents or lights.
  • Use lights that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory, and make sure you know whether they are designed for indoor or outdoor use.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords, or loose bulb connections. Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of light strands to connect.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
  • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving the home or going to bed.
  • After Christmas, get rid of the tree. Dried-out trees are a fire hazard and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside the home.
  • Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer.

 

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Home Heating Safety

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Home Heating Fires are the Leading Cause of Home Fires and Fatalities.

As we are expected to continue with cooler temperatures over the weekend, Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins encourages the citizens of the City of Columbia and Richland County to use caution while heating your homes as some heating sources that comfort us also is a leading cause of home fires and fire fatalities.

Placing things that can burn too close to heating equipment or placing heating equipment too close to things that can burn, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattress, or bedding, was the leading factor contributing to ignition in fatal home heating fires and accounted for more than half (56%) of home heating fire deaths nationally.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), heating equipment is a leading cause of fires in U.S. homes. These homes included one- and two-family homes (including manufactured homes) and apartments (including townhouses and other multi-family dwellings).  

  • 2009-2013, heating equipment was involved in an estimated 56,000 reported U.S. home structure fires, with associated losses of 470 civilian deaths, 1,490 civilian injuries, and $1.0 billion in direct property damage. These fires accounted for 16% of all reported home fires. 
  • Space heaters, whether portable or stationary, accounted for two of every five (40%) of home heating fires and four out of five (84%) of home heating fire deaths.
  • The leading factor contributing to home heating fires (30%) was failure to clean, principally creosote from solid-fueled heating equipment, primarily chimneys.

Although Chief Jenkins does not recommend the use of space heaters he understands that citizens will use them as a secondary or even primary heat source but encourages you not to leave them unattended, don’t go to sleep with them on and to keep combustibles at least three feet away.

By following these basic fire safety precautions and making small modifications, you can greatly reduce the risk of home heating fires.

  • All heaters need space. Keep things that can burn, such as paper, bedding or furniture, at least 3 feet away from heating equipment.
  • Use heating equipment that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instruction. Have a qualified professional install the equipment.
  • Make sure all fuel-burning equipment is vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.  CO poisoning can cause illness and even death.
  • Install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms inside your home to provide early warning of carbon monoxide.
  • Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified professional.
  • Turn space heaters off when you leave a room or go to sleep.          
  • Have your chimney or wood stove inspected and cleaned annually by a certified chimney specialist.
  • Clear the area around the hearth of debris, decorations, and flammable materials.
  • Always use a metal mesh screen with fireplaces. Leave glass doors open while burning a fire.
  • Keep air inlets on wood stoves open, and never restrict air supply to fireplaces. Otherwise you may cause creosote buildup that could lead to a chimney fire.

 

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THANKSGIVING COOKING SAFETY

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Don’t Let a Cooking Fire Ruin Your Thanksgiving Holiday

Thanksgiving is a time of year for families and friends to get together, but as cooking is a major activity of this holiday it presents a greater risk of home fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), nearly four times as many home cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving as on a typical day.

The NFPA’s latest report (2011-2015) shows that cooking equipment is the leading cause of home structure fires and civilian injuries and the second leading cause of home fire deaths in the U.S. 

In 2016 the Columbia Fire Department responded to approximately 476 structure fires with 170 of them were cooking related fires and of those zero occurred on Thanksgiving Day.

“There are many factors that contribute to an increased risk of cooking related fires, but during holidays such as Thanksgiving distractions make it all too easy to forget that you’ve left something cooking or left something flammable to close to cooking source”, stated Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins of the Columbia Fire Department.

For most, the kitchen is the heart of the home, especially during the holidays. From testing family recipes to decorating cakes and cookies, everyone enjoys being part of the preparations.

So keeping fire safety top of mind in the kitchen during this joyous but hectic time is important, especially when there’s a lot of activity and people at home. As you start preparing your holiday schedule and organizing that large family feast, remember, by following a few simple safety tips you can enjoy time with your loved ones and keep yourself and your family safer from fire.

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking so you can keep an eye on the food
  • Keep a three foot kid/pet free zone from the stove and  away
  • Roll up sleeves before turning on the burner. Low hanging clothing can easily catch fire and cause severe burns.
  • Never cook if you are taking medicine that makes you drowsy or when you are sleepy.
  • Keep flammable materials away from burners. This includes but not limited to towels, paper towels, oven mitts, food wrappers, pot holders, pizza boxes, and other paper, plastic, and fabric materials.
  • 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.
  • Make sure your smoke alarms are working.

Turkey Fire Prevention

The Columbia Fire Department discourages the use of outdoor gas-fueled turkey fryers that immerse the turkey in hot oil and recommends you use a professional service to fry your turkey but if you choose to do it yourself just remember to follow these tips before firing up the fryer.

  • Keep the fryer outdoors, on a level surface and at least ten feet from a structure; preferably on hard surface 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. 
  • 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.

Additional Fire Safety tips and information below and on our website at https://colafire.net/safety-tips/?

 

 

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Check Smoke Alarms & Carbon Monoxide Detectors This Weekend

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The Columbia Fire Department encourages testing smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors as daylight savings time ends Sunday, November 5th.

It’s time to fall back one hour as daylight savings time ends this weekend. As we set our clocks back, Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins recommends testing your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

Roughly two-thirds of home fire deaths in the U.S. occur in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. When smoke alarms should have worked but failed to operate, it is usually because batteries were missing, disconnected, or dead. The Columbia Fire Department provides the following guidelines around smoke alarms:

  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month using the test button.
  • Make sure everyone in the home understands the sound of the smoke alarm and knows how to respond.
  • Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old.
  • Replace the smoke alarm immediately if it doesn’t respond properly when tested.
  • Smoke alarms with non-replaceable (long-life) batteries are designed to remain effective for up to 10 years. If the alarm chirps, a warning that the battery is low, replace the entire smoke alarm right away.
  • For smoke alarms with any other type of battery, replace batteries at least once a year. If the alarm chirps, replace only the battery.

 

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HALLOWEEN SAFETY

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Don’t let Halloween safety give you a fright; just keep it simple.

Halloween is a week away, and with it, the rush to find the perfect costume, that great pumpkin, and just the right decorations for your home. Hidden within all this fun and excitement are potential fire hazards and the Columbia Fire Department wants to remind everyone about some simple Halloween safety tips to help avoid seasonal hazards.

During the years 2011-2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 840 home structure fires annually that began with decorations. These fires caused an average of 2 civilian deaths, 36 civilian injuries, and $11.4 million in direct property damage per year. Almost half (45%) of these fires were tied to decorations being too close to some type of heat source, such as a candle. A fire can start when candles are too close to decorations or when long, trailing costumes come into contact with candles.

To keep your little trick-or-treaters and your home fire safe this Halloween follow these safety tips:

  • Candles – Refrain from having an open flame. Use battery-operated candles or glow-sticks in your jack-o-lanterns.
  • Costumes – Choose the right costume. Stay away from long or flowing fabric, and skip extraneous costume pieces.
  • Decorations – Avoid flammable decorations including dried flowers, cornstalks and crepe paper that are highly flammable. Keep decorations away from open flames and other heat sources, including light bulbs and heaters.
  • Exits – Remember to keep all decorations away from doors so that they are not blocking any exits or escape routes.
  • Smoke alarms – Make sure all of your smoke alarms are working and up to date.
  • Visibility – Provide flashlights to children or have them carry glow sticks as part of their costumes. Make sure if a child is wearing a mask that the eye holes are large enough to see out of them.

The Columbia Fire Department encourages families to take part in safe alternatives for young trick-or-treaters, like Dutch Fork Fire & Rescue (Station 20) annual Halloween Festival at Station 20, 10727 Broad River Road on Tuesday, October 31st from 5pm-9pm or the City of Columbia Parks and Recreation Department’s FREE Spooktacular Halloween Party.  This event will be held on Tuesday, October 31st from 5pm-9pm at Dutch Square Mall, 421 Bush River Road (see attached flyer).

 

News Release

CFD Hosts 20th Annual Fire Prevention Parade During Fire Prevention Week 2017

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You and your family are fast asleep when the smoke alarm sounds: 

Do you know what to do?

Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins announced today the Columbia Fire Department will host its 20th Annual Fire Prevention Parade in honor of Fire Prevention Week October 8-14, 2017, on Thursday, October 12th beginning at 11am.  The parade will start at Main & Laurel Streets and travel south ending at Main & Gervais Streets.

Fire Departments from around the state will be participating in the parade along with fire and life safety businesses and other community partners to showcase some of their resources in the effort to protect and save lives, property and the environment.

Consider this scenario: Its 2 o’clock in the morning. You and your family are fast asleep when you awaken to the smoke alarm sounding and the smell of smoke. What do you do? If you and your family don’t have a plan in place, it could jeopardize your safety, or even prove deadly.

In a typical home fire, you may have as little as one to two minutes to escape safely from the time the smoke alarm sounds. That’s why home escape planning is so critical in a fire situation. It ensures that everyone in the household knows how to use that small window of time wisely.

“Developing and practicing a home escape plan is like building muscle memory,” said Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins. “That pre-planning is what everyone will draw upon to snap into action and escape as quickly as possible in the event of a fire.”

This year’s Fire Prevention Week theme, “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!” works to better educate the public about the critical importance of developing a home escape plan and practicing it. The Columbia Fire Department is working in coordination with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the official sponsor of the Fire Prevention Week for more than 90 years, to reinforce those potentially life-saving messages. Fire Prevention Week is October 8-14, 2017.

“Home escape planning is one of the most basic but fundamental elements of home fire safety, and can truly make the difference between life and death in a fire situation,” said Chief Jenkins.

In support of Fire Prevention Week, Chief Jenkins encourages all City of Columbia and Richland County households to develop a plan together and practice it. A home escape plan includes a working carbon monoxide alarm (if needed) and working smoke alarms on every level of the home, in every bedroom, and near all sleeping areas. It also includes two ways out of every room, usually a door and a window, with a clear path to an outside meeting place (like a tree, light pole, or mailbox) that’s a safe distance from the home.

The Columbia Fire Department offer these additional tips and recommendations for developing and practicing a home escape plan:

  • Draw a map of your home with all members of your household, marking two exits from each room and a path to the outside from each exit.
  • Practice your home fire drill twice a year. Conduct one at night and one during the day with everyone in your home, and practice using different ways out.
  • Teach children how to escape on their own in case you can’t help them.
  • Install recuse ladders for bedrooms above the second floor.
  • Make sure the number of your home is clearly marked and easy for the fire department to find.
  • Close doors behind you as you leave — this may slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire.
  • Once you get outside, stay outside. Never go back inside a burning building.

For more information about Fire Prevention Week activities with the Columbia Fire Department, visit our website – www.colafire.net or our social media pages ; Facebook- Columbia Fire Department (SC), Twitter – ColaFire, Instagram – ColumbiaFire. To learn more about this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out” and home escape planning, visit firepreventionweek.org.

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FILL THE PINK HELMET

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Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins announced yesterday that the Columbia Fire Department would hosting the 3rd Annual Fill the Pink Helmet Fundraiser on Friday, September 29th at the Walmarts on Bush River Rd and Forest Drive for Palmetto Health’s Bosom Buddies Fundbe collecting monetary donations for the Bosom Buddies a 501(c)3 charity that assists women with post mastectomy bras and other support materials.

Columbia Firefighters will be collecting from 10am-12pm and 1pm-3pm at the following Walmart locations – 1326 Bush River Road and 5240 Forest Drive.

The CFD would like to thank Walmart for allowing our Firefighters to collecting donations and to Maaco Collision Repair and Auto Painting on Decker Blvd for painting several firefighter helmets pink for this campaign.

 

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News Release

CFD Activates MMRS Resources for US Department of Defense’s Federal Coordination Center Mission

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The Columbia Fire Department received a request on Sunday from the US Department of Defense’s Federal Coordination Center (FCC) to activate Metropolitan Medical Response Systems (MMRS) equipment and supplies managed by the CFD to help support the potential emergency evacuation of an unknown number of medical patients from Caribbean hospitals. CFD firefighters from St Andrews Station 6 and Olympia Station 2 were dispatched Sunday morning to provide manpower for the mission.

The effort, which will include the reception, triage and tracking of patients that will be temporary housed at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport for this purpose so that patients can be systematically dispersed to local hospitals.

The mission is being conducted under the auspices of the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS), which assists in the coordination of governmental, non-profit and medical emergency resources into a unified response to natural disasters and acts of domestic terrorism. NDMS is activated when an incident is so large that it overwhelms local agencies’ ability to respond with sufficient medical aid.

Response personnel from local, state and military agencies as well as 11 regional hospitals and healthcare facilities are preparing today to receive patients evacuated from islands decimated by Hurricane Maria. Military aircraft will be bringing an unknown number of patients to the Columbia airport for transport to South Carolina hospitals.

The CFD will continue to support this mission by remaining on standby to provide any additional resources requested to include a Metro Emergency Response Vehicle (MERV) maintained by the Columbia Fire Department.

 

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Columbia Fire Department Hiring Firefighters

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The Columbia Fire Department launches hiring campaign for the next CFD Recruit Class, 18-01

Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins announced today that the Columbia Fire Department is accepting applications for Firefighter.  The application process will close midnight on Tuesday, October 31, 2017.

The Department is the largest in the state and is responsible for serving nearly 500,000 citizens within the City of Columbia and Richland County.  Firefighters respond to 35,000-40,000 emergency incidents per year from rural to densely urban areas.  Fully staffed, the Columbia Fire Department has 500 personnel covering 32 fire stations.

The application period is currently open, as per the posting on the City of Columbia website https://columbiasc.csod.com/ats/careersite/JobDetails.aspx?site=1&id=377. All applicants are strongly encouraged to provide an email address as requested on the Columbia Firefighter Application.  Applicants will be notified via email for pre-qualification testing dates.  This will be a progressive process based on minimum passing scores for each of the testing phases. 

Phases of the pre-qualification testing process include:

  1. Application, to include a 10 year driving record and criminal background check from the state of residency.
  2. General aptitude written test.
  3. Maze and Physical agility test.
  4. Final Application Review.
  5. Selected Candidate’s Interview.

*Follow link (https://colafire.net/recruitmentapply/firefighter-hiring-process/  to purchase study guide for written aptitude test and to view Maze & Agility test video tutorials.

Any questions that you may have can be e-mailed to Captain James Bostic, CFD Recruiter at cfdrecruitment@columbiasc.net or call the Columbia Fire Department at (803) 545-3331.

News Release

Missing Boater-Durham Alexander DeLaura

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Statement from Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins and information on Durham Alexander DeLaura while serving at the Columbia Fire Department.

Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins stated, “The CFD Family continues to offer our thoughts and prayers to Durham’s family and friends. He was a very talented Firefighter who developed many skills during his nearly ten years serving with Department and I along with the entire Columbia Fire Department continue to focus on the recovery efforts.”  Chief Jenkins continued to state, “I would like to thank the many agencies that have taken part in the rescue and recovery efforts, especially the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Lexington County and Newberry County Sheriff’s Department and the Lexington County Fire Service.” 

Durham Alexander DeLaura was hired by the Columbia Fire Department on December 2, 2006 and resigned in good standing with the Department on June 11, 2016 at the rank of Engineer.  Engineer DeLaura served honorably with the Columbia Fire Department and worked at serval stations during his career to include Sandhill Station 24, North Main Station 7, and Dentsville Station 14; but served most of his nearly ten year career at Headquarters Station 1 on Rescue 1.

Engineer Durham Alexander DeLaura while serving with the Columbia Fire Department received several awards for his lifesaving actions during Flood Joaquin.

  • Engineer DeLaura was awarded with the Medal of Valor after he three other CFD Firefighters shallow water crossed, swam through flooded waters and searched 50 yards in the woods in the dark to locate a victim in a flooded creek.
  • Engineer DeLaura was awarded with the Medal of Bravery after he and another CFD Firefighter with assistance from several other CFD Firefighters conducted multiple Swiftwater rescues from atop and inside vehicles and from the flooded tree lines at Decker Boulevard and O’Neil Court.
  • Engineer DeLaura was awarded with a Unit Citation after he and other CFD Firefighters rescued seven victims from flood waters in the area of Garners Ferry Road and Greenlawn Drive.
  • Engineer DeLaura was also awarded along with multiple members of the Columbia Fire Department; the Outside Agency Award for receiving an award from the Palmetto Health Hospitals for keeping the three hospital’s water supply operational which allowed them to remain open and to function during their operations.
  • Engineer DeLaura received a second Outside Agency Award for receiving the internationally recognized Higgins & Langley Memorial Award for Swift Water Rescue which was awarded to the Columbia Fire Department specifically for its actions during Flood Joaquin.
  • Engineer DeLaura along with each member of the Columbia Fire Department during Flood Joaquin received a Flood Joaquin Campaign Ribbon from the Columbia Fire Department.