The crash of a small aircraft in the Rosewood neighborhood of Columbia on January 13, 2021 caused one home there to catch fire.
CRFD crews were dispatched to the scene on the 2900 block of Kennedy Street near S. Maple Street just after 10:30 a.m. While en route to the scene responders called for a 2nd Alarm. The small plane itself crashed in the backyard of a home and the wreckage caught fire. The pilot on board the plane was killed and has since been identified by the Richland County Coroner as 62-year-old Farhad Rostampour of Greenville. Meanwhile the home in front of the yard suffered significant structural damages caused by the crash and the fire.
Fire crews entered the home and were able to extinguish the flames, which were mostly found in the attic area. One occupant was inside the house at the time of the crash but she was able to escape safely with a minor injury.
The National Transportation Safety Board is continuing to investigate the crash.
CRFD Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins speaking media outlets following the crash.
CRFD personnel once again stood out during the annual leadership conference of the South Carolina State Association of Fire Chiefs. Yet the major highlight for the weekend was CRFD Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins being sworn in as the new president of the organization.
Fire chiefs from across the Palmetto State gathered in Myrtle Beach for the conference during the weekend of January 9, 2021. Originally scheduled for last September the annual event had to be pushed back due to the ongoing threat of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“This is a truly a great honor for me and a major highlight of my more than 40 years working in the South Carolina fire service,” Chief Jenkins, “Our organization has always had the mission to grow and motivate fire chiefs and officers working in all areas. As the new head of the organization I look forward to working with members of our executive board to collectively face challenges and bring our successes to new heights in the coming year.”
Fire Chief Jenkins’ recent advancement in the association came after he served as 1st Vice President of the organization beginning in 2019. Before that he was the organization’s 2nd Vice President.
“So very proud of our Chief,” said Columbia City Manager Teresa Wilson, “He is perfect to serve as President of the SC Fire Chiefs Association, as his passion for the profession and love of community will always guide his leadership platform.”
“First, I want to congratulate Chief Jenkins on the outstanding recognition of his exemplary career in public safety as he has been honored as new president of the South Carolina State Fire Chiefs Association, and the historic nature of his role as the first African-American assigned this responsibility,” said Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin. “Additionally, I want to thank him for his years of service to our Columbia community, beginning as a firefighter in 1979 and serving as fire chief for ten years.”
Members of the Columbia-Richland Fire Department would also have a role promoting education during the annual conference.
Battalion Chief David Laird and Battalion Chief Philip Yarchuk led a 3-day Battalion Chief Academy focused on strategies and tactics for firefighters working in command roles. This was their third time leading the course.
As the first days of 2021 continue on, more members of the Columbia-Richland Fire Department have taken advantage of their opportunities to get a COVID-19 vaccine. CRFD personnel have been making appointments to receive their first vaccine doses at medical facilities across the Midlands.
For many firefighters the reason to get the vaccine is simple.
“It’s our job to protect the public and if we don’t who will?” said CRFD Assistant Chief of Administration Mickey Folsom, who received his first dose of the vaccine on January 4.
That same day Columbia Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins was among the first members of CRFD to get the Pfizer COVID vaccine. Since then staff members in several branches of the department have been scheduling their own appointments.
“We serve the public every day that we come to work. I’m a captain of CRFD, I’m an EMT as well so we’re directly interacting with people who are sick,” said Fire Captain Lorenzo Spell, “I have young children at home. I have an 8-year-old and a 5-year-old so one thing is I don’t want to bring anything home to my children…I don’t want to bring anything home to my wife.”
“I have chosen to get the COVID 19 vaccination for two reasons. The first is for the safety of my family. I have two children with health conditions whom the disease could critically harm, and I want to do everything I can to prevent that from happening,” said Assistant Fire Chief of Operations Christopher Kip, “The second reason is that the members of our fire department must remain operational. It is important that we stay healthy, not only for the wellness of our fellow firefighters but also to uphold our duty to the community we serve.”
As firefighters who respond to medical calls, CRFD members met DHEC qualifications to be counted in the first groups to receive a COVID vaccine. All firefighters received word on January 1 that they would begin receiving instructions on how to make a vaccination appointment. Staff members who have since received their first doses have also made follow-up appointments to receive their required second doses of the vaccine.
CRFD encourages all community members to take advantage of their opportunities to receive a COVID vaccine as doses become more widely available.
“It’s here for our good,” said Fire Chief Jenkins after receiving his first dose, “It’s here for everyone’s good. Don’t be afraid to get the vaccine.”
On Monday January 4, 2021 Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins received his vaccination for the COVID-19 virus. The vaccine was administered to Chief Jenkins by staff at Prisma Health Richland Hospital.
“I am grateful to be able to receive this crucial vaccination as we begin 2021,” stated Chief Jenkins, “My hope is that as the vaccine becomes more widely available that more people will pursue opportunities to receive it. Vaccines are going to be one of our most effective tools in fighting this deadly virus and ultimately reducing its threat. Only by working together can we reach that goal.”
The Columbia-Richland Fire Department once again helped promote the spirit of the Christmas season by giving Santa Claus a ride through neighborhoods across Richland County.
On Saturday December 19 Santa rode in two community parades. One began at Station 9 and proceeded into Five Points and parts of the Shandon neighborhood. Santa was joined onboard Engine 9 by Columbia City Councilman Will Brennan and South Carolina State Representative Seth Rose.
Then later in the day Santa joined the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, County Councilman Jim Manning and County Councilwoman Cheryl English for a parade through the Woodfield Park Neighborhood. CRFD Ladder 8 also took part in the event.
In addition to the parades Santa also made his usual series of nightly runs with crew members at CRFD Station 20. This took him by several homes in the Ballantine area in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
CRFD would recognize four members of the department on Tuesday December 15, 2020 for recently earning promotions within our Fire Prevention Division. Two of the honorees are now joining the division, which handles fire code enforcement within the City of Columbia. The remaining two staff members were promoted to higher ranks within the office.
Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins presented each honoree with their new badge and a certificate of recognition during a small pinning ceremony in the department’s fire museum. All honorees were allowed to bring a few guests for the event and all in attendance followed COVID-19 safety guidelines.
CRFD would like to congratulate the following individuals on their recent promotions, which took effect on December 12, 2020.
Courtney Clowney – Deputy Fire Marshal
Joshua Ballard – Deputy Fire Marshal
Kenneth Willis – Fire Investigator
Bengie Leverett – Assistant Fire Marshal
(Pictured at left in each photo: Deputy Fire Marshal Courtney Clowney, Deputy Fire Marshal Joshua Ballard, Fire Investigator Kenneth Willis, Assistant Fire Marshal Bengie Leverett)
On Saturday December 12, 2020 a fire at a home on Fox Grove Circle quickly spread to two other neighboring homes. A 2nd Alarm was called for the fire while CRFD crews were en route to the scene after 2:00 p.m.
Firefighters used a ladder truck to get water on the main home from above while crews quickly went to work protecting the adjacent homes from further fire damages. Occupants of all three homes made it out safely and there were no injuries.
The cause of the fire is being investigated by the Richland County Fire Marshal’s Office.
On the morning of November 24, 2020 a massive fire ripped through the former site of Graham-Sleepmaster Mattress Manufacturer on Ellerbe Street in Columbia. By the time CRFD firefighters arrived on scene there were flames coming through the roof of the building, which prompted personnel to call for a 2nd Alarm.
No one was found inside the building and there were no injuries. The building was most recently being used as a furniture storage building for an area thrift store. Several sleeper sofas were among the items inside.
The Richland County Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating what caused the fire.
Staff at the Columbia-Richland Fire Department are once again sending a seasonal reminder out to citizens to be mindful if they have live Christmas trees on display in their homes.
As long as the tree is in your home WATER IT REGULARLY!
Studies and videos produced by the National Fire Protection Association clearly document the dangers of Christmas tree fires.
The NFPA has reported that from 2013 through 2017 fire departments across the U.S. responded to an average of 160 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. An additional 780 home fires each year began with decorations other than Christmas trees.
Preventing Tree Fires
Keeping your Christmas tree healthy and more flame-resistant begins with finding the greenest tree!
- Choose a tree with fresh green needles that do not fall off when touched!
Once you select your tree and bring it inside your home…
- Cut 2 inches from the base of the trunk before placing the tree in a stand
- Make sure the tree is at least 3 feet away from any heat source (i.e. heating vents, candles, radiators, fireplaces, etc.).
- Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
- Add water to the tree at least twice daily.
When you decorate the tree…
- Use lights that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use.
- Replace any string of lights that are worn out or broken! Follow manufacturer’s guidelines on the maximum number of light strands to connect.
- NEVER use lit candles to decorate the tree!!
- Always turn off the tree lights before you go to bed or leave your home.
- Quickly dispose of the tree after Christmas or when it is dry. Do not leave it inside or against the home!
Other Holiday Safety Tips
- Be careful with holiday decorations. Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant.
- Keep lit candles away from decorations and other things that can burn. For added safety use battery powered candles instead.
- Blow out lit candles and turn off holiday lights when you leave the room or go to bed.
- Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.
- 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.
- Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.
- Keep decorations away from windows and doors.
When entertaining guests…
- Test your smoke alarms and tell guests about your home fire escape plan.
- Keep children and pets away from lit candles.
- Keep matches and lighters up high in a locked cabinet.
- Stay in the kitchen when cooking on the stovetop.
- Ask smokers to smoke outside. Remind smokers to keep their smoking materials with them so young children do not touch them
- Provide large, deep ashtrays for smokers. Wet cigarette butts with water before discarding.
Members of the Columbia-Richland Fire Department took their annual campaign to feed the hungry to new heights this holiday season.
During the week of December 14, 2020 thousands of canned goods and non perishable food items were taken in by the department to support area families in need. The items were raised thanks to the support of community donations and grant opportunities provided by area supermarkets.
Area residents were able to call the department directly for food assistance and obtain items. By December 23, CRFD personnel had successfully distributed more than 200 bags of groceries.
‘’The support from the community during this campaign was nothing short of incredible,’’ said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, ‘’In the past during the holiday season our firefighters have done a lot of good raising canned goods to help area residents but this year the need was so great we really wanted to do all we could to help as many people as we could. We look forward to doing more with this campaign in the years to come.’’
A community wide collection day was held at CRFD Headquarters on Friday, December 18 in support of the ‘Firefighters Feeding Families Holiday Food Drive.’
Staff at the fire department would like to thank everyone who stopped by that day to make a donation!