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.

Columbia-Richland Fire Department Holds First-Ever Youth Academy

Over the course of two weeks in July, 12 kids from around the Columbia area took part in a Youth Academy hosted by the Columbia-Richland Fire Department. The academy focused on giving area youth an inside look at their fire department while also teaching them valuable, life-saving skills that they can use to aid their communities.

The program concluded with a graduation ceremony held on Friday July 22 where each child received a certificate of completion.

“This is the first time I can remember that we’ve ever done an academy like this for our area kids,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “We hope the ones that took part this summer will not only walk away with a better of understanding of the fire service but also a desire to serve in it. I applaud the members of our staff who worked to build this program and make it fun and engaging for the kids over the last two weeks. Going forward we are aiming to host more academies like this in the years ahead.”

Kids who took part in the CRFD Youth Academy were placed by the Columbia Urban League, which is a multi-service, non-profit agency that promotes financial stability and racial inclusion in our communities. Programs that promote education, youth empowerment and economic and quality of life empowerment are just a few offered by the Urban League.

Columbia Urban League President and CEO James T. McLawhorn as well as Columbia Mayor Daniel J. Rickenmann were on hand for the graduation to offer the kids words of encouragement.

From July 11 through July 22 participants in the academy were at CRFD each weekday for about four hours per day. During that time they took part in discussions that covered the history of the fire department as well as what goes in to daily operations. The kids also received lessons in basic life-saving medical care (i.e. CPR, tourniquet usage) as well as how to use a fire extinguisher. One of the final lessons covered during the academy focused on how to build a resume and apply for jobs.


Congratulations to the Graduates of our First-Ever CRFD Youth Academy!



Parker Benjamin

Sincere Clark

Jayda Graham

Josiah Henryhand

Micah Henryhand

Daniel Jenkins

Ernest Legette

Ryleigh McCree

Jeremiah Nichols

RaQuan Nichols

Amaria Smith

Cole Wilkins

Use Extreme Caution While Setting Off Consumer Fireworks This July 4th

The July 4th Weekend will bring many families around our area together for cookouts, pool parties and fun. However if your good time with friends and loved ones includes the use of consumer fireworks, CRFD firefighters want to remind you to use extreme caution.

“A fireworks-related injury can quickly extinguish the fun at any holiday gathering,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “Consumers need to understand the fire power that every store-bought firework can produce. If you handle them carefully you can enjoy them with your friends and family while at the time preventing injuries and keeping your property safe from fire.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) more than 19,500 fires are started by fireworks annually. Sparklers alone can burn at 1200 degrees Fahrenheit and account for roughly one quarter of emergency room fireworks injuries.

CRFD 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. DO NOT grill on your deck!
  • 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.
  • Always have a fire extinguisher handy in case of an emergency.

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.


CRFD Members Honored with Awards at 2022 Fire-Rescue Conference

The 2022 state Fire-Rescue Conference ended with what would be a big night for the Columbia-Richland Fire Department.

Several members of CRFD were recognized on Saturday June 11 during the awards banquet that closed the conference at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center. Firefighters with the department received two ‘Meritorious Awards’ from the South Carolina State Firefighters Association while retired CRFD Training Captain Jack Veal was inducted into the SCSFA Hall of Fame.

“I am proud of what our members accomplished here tonight and was glad to be on hand to see them accept these incredible honors,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “We thank the South Carolina State Firefighters Association for organizing these awards to commend our state’s firefighters. While honors and accolades is not the reason we do this job it is still inspiring to be recognized by our fire service peers.”

“Our members winning these awards is a true testament to the great work that all of our firefighters do here at CRFD every day to keep our citizens safe,” Jenkins added.

CRFD 3rd Shift and volunteer members accept Meritorious Award for 2021 Rescue at House Fire
CRFD 1st Shift members accept Meritorious Award for 2020 River Rescue

Nine CRFD firefighters received one ‘Meritorious Award’ for their work rescuing a mother and her child from a fast-moving house fire that happened in February of 2021. Both victims were found unconscious in the home by firefighters and quickly moved out of the structure through a window as conditions inside deteriorated. Firefighters then began performing CPR on both patients until EMS transported them from the scene. While the child unfortunately passed away days later the mother did survive the incident.

The second ‘Meritorious Award’ was presented to CRFD 1st Shift crews that responded to a water rescue on the Broad River in August of 2020. The incident unfolded when a teenage boy fell on the low head dam near the Columbia Canal and his foot became entrapped in rocks and debris beneath the surface of the water.

Fire crews worked for a period of several hours to free the teen and get him to safety all while the water level on the river was rising and weather conditions deteriorated. The teen escaped the incident with no injuries.

In addition to the ‘Meritorious Awards’ one former member of CRFD also received the honor of being inducted into the South Carolina State Firefighters Association Hall of Fame.

Captain Jack Herman Veal retired in 2021 after working 43 years in the South Carolina fire service. During the last 24 years he was a member of CRFD where he trained countless firefighters as an officer in our training division. Captain Veal also taught firefighters at the South Carolina Fire Academy. There he led instruction in 51 of the academy’s courses and also helped create curriculum by putting together a course in fighting fires fueled by flammable gas.

Columbia-Richland Fire Department Named a ‘Fire Safe South Carolina’ Community for Third Straight Year

The Columbia-Richland Fire Department has once again earned designation as a ‘Fire Safe South Carolina Community’ for its constant work to promote fire safety and education.

This is the third straight year that the department has received the honor from ‘Fire Safe South Carolina.’ CRFD officially received the award for the designation along with 104 other South Carolina fire departments at the annual state Fire-Rescue conference in Myrtle Beach on June 11.

“It makes me incredibly proud of this department to see us recognized with this honor for the third consecutive year,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “As a fire department it is not only our daily mission to aid our citizens during fires and other emergencies but also to take action to prevent disasters from happening at all. Receiving this honor is a true testimony to how seriously our members take that mission.”

To earn the “Fire Safe South Carolina” designation, recognized fire departments had to complete courses to improve their data quality. They also had to train community partners to deliver in-home safety visits and further develop their skills through online National Fire Academy courses in risk reduction and assessment. In 2021, 366 new community partners were identified statewide, more than 1,000 fire service members were educated on risk reduction-related topics, and nearly 500,000 citizens were educated on fire and life safety topics by local fire departments.

“The enthusiasm for obtaining this designation continues to grow, and we remain encouraged by active participation,” Community Risk Reduction Chief Josh Fulbright said. “We congratulate the 105 designees and are excited to see a 30 percent increase from last year. We look forward to recognizing them with a formal award ceremony during the June Fire-Rescue Conference in Myrtle Beach.”

Over the course of the past year CRFD fire prevention staff members completed 578 public education events. This included giving 23 presentations in fire safety education. They also completed 62 home fire safety surveys for citizens in the City of Columbia and Richland County and installed 157 free smoke alarms and 126 carbon monoxide alarms for citizens in need of those devices.

Launched in 2017, Fire Safe SC’s partners include the S.C. State Firefighters’ Association, the S.C. State Association of Fire Chiefs, and the S.C. Fire Marshal Association.

Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins accepts recognition for CRFD as a 2022 Fire Safe South Carolina Community at the state Fire-Rescue conference.

Firefighters Kick In Donations During ‘Battle of the Badges Blood Drive’

Members of the Columbia-Richland Fire Department rolled up their sleeves to help give the gift of life during the annual ‘Battle of the Badges Blood Drive’ on Friday May 27, 2022.

The event is a day-long blood drive competition between the fire department, the Richland County Sheriff’s Department and the Columbia Police Department to see which agency can raise the most blood donations for the American Red Cross of South Carolina!

The fire department thanks all of our citizens that came out to support the event.

CRFD works with Red Cross to install more than 200 smoke alarms in Columbia homes

On Saturday May 14, 2022 the Columbia-Richland Fire Department partnered with the American Red Cross of South Carolina on its first large-scale community smoke alarm blitz in three years.

During the ‘Sound the Alarm Smoke Alarm Blitz’ 225 free alarms were distributed and installed at homes in the Columbia neighborhoods of Ridgewood and Byrneswood. Teams of CRFD firefighters and Red Cross volunteers completed the alarm installs during much of the day. They also took the time to distribute fire prevention information and materials to area residents.

In all the teams hit 83 households in the Columbia area during the blitz.

19 CRFD Members Earn Promotions in Early 2022

The Columbia-Richland Fire Department ushered in 2022 by promoting 19 members to new ranks of leadership. Since the beginning of the year, CRFD has promoted one new battalion chief as well as five new fire captains and seven new fire engineers. In addition to that five firefighters were promoted to the rank of senior firefighter and the department also appointed a new coordinator to oversee volunteer fire stations.

With their friends and family members looking on, each honoree officially received their new badge from Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins during a series of ceremonial pinnings at CRFD headquarters.

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


Promoted to Senior Firefighter

Kevin McDonald                              Peyton Simien                          William Slicer

Brendan Spears                            Len Stokes Jr.

(From left: Senior Firefighter Brendan Spears & Senior Firefighter Len Stokes Jr. with CRFD Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins)

Promoted to Engineer

Thomas Bookman                        Javier Colon                             John Douglass

Spencer Heath                              Joshua McGee                       Jaered Shelton

Daniel Watson

(From left: Engineer Javier Colon & Engineer Spencer Heath with CRFD Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins)

Promoted to Fire Captain

Raymond Champagne                 David China                             Layne Dowey

William Marker                             Leroy Todd

(From top left: Fire Captain Raymond Champagne, Fire Captain Layne Dowey & Fire Captain Leroy Todd with CRFD Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins)

Promoted to Battalion Chief

Jason Herbert


Appointed to Volunteer Coordinator

Richard Wymer


Firetruck Pull Nets More Than $19,000 to Aid Children Fighting Cancer

For the first time in three years citizens from around the Columbia area came together to compete pulling CRFD firetrucks at the annual Firetruck Pull on Saturday morning April 30, 2022.

By the time the event was over more than $19,000 was raised to benefit ‘Curing Kids Cancer.’ Those funds will now be used by the organization to support pediatric cancer research and patient care at Prisma Health Children’s Hospital-Midlands.

Twenty teams took part in the 2022 Firetruck Pull including one team made up of members of the Columbia-Richland Fire Department. This was the first time the competition was held live in Columbia since 2019. In 2020 and 2021 the event had to be held virtually due to the treat of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“Our department takes great pride in being able to sponsor this event each year by providing the firetrucks and I am thrilled that we’re now able to hold it again live and in person,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “I am also very proud of our members that came out to pull for CRFD and support the spirit of the competition.”

Each team that took part in the firetruck pull competed to show support or honor the memory of a child that has been touched by cancer. Team CRFD pulled in honor of 9-year-old Killian Owen, who passed away from cancer in 2003 and whose courageous story led to the founding of ‘Curing Kids Cancer.’ Over the years the organization has gone on to raise more than $23 million for pediatric cancer research and treatment through fundraising campaigns and events. All proceeds raised from the Firetruck Pull will benefit the Gamecock Curing Kids Cancer $1.2 million endowment to the Children’s Center for Cancer & Blood Disorders Clinic at Prisma Health Children’s Hospital – Midlands.

Winners of the competition are declared by determining which teams can pull a CRFD fire engine the fastest over a distance of about 30 feet. This year members of the University of South Carolina Football Team pulling as ‘Gamecocks for Khalil’ took home the top honor as the fastest 10-person team. The fastest 12-person team to complete the pull was members of the USC Equestrian Team pulling as ‘USC Equestrian for Brianna.’

The ‘Moms of Warriors’ team won the award for raising the most funds ahead of the competition while team ‘Eve’s Princes and Princesses’ was recognized as the best dressed team.