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2-alarm fire leaves historic Babcock Building damaged

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More than 50 firefighters with Columbia Richland Fire helped preserve a piece of Columbia’s history on the evening of December 13, 2018.

Fire coming from upper floors of Columbia’s historic Babcock building

At around 5:30 p.m. fire broke out on an upper floor of the Babcock Building off of Calhoun Street. The building, which used to be part of the South Carolina State Hospital, has a history dating back to the mid 1800s when it was built in four sections. It has been listed on the National Register since October 30, 1981.

When CFD’s first crews arrived on scene they found fire visible from the fourth floor of the building’s south section. Eventually that fire began to shoot through the roof and a second alarm was sounded for more units to respond.

The sheer age of the building was the biggest concern early in the operation. Commanders on scene chose not to send firefighters inside the structure because of the condition of its wooden floors.

Instead department ladder and tower trucks were used to spray water on the fire from above.  At around 10 p.m. crews were able to enter the building and attack the fire from within. By 11 p.m. the fire was under control and in total the operation lasted more than five hours.

Thankfully there were no reports of any firefighters or civilians being injured.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Initial estimates are that the incident caused approximately $500,000 in damages.

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CFD celebrates staff promotions and appointments at December ceremony

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Columbia Richland Fire would wind down 2018 by officially recognizing more than 40 members of the department for their career accomplishments.

Department leaders hosted a recognition ceremony on December 10, 2018 to congratulate staff who were promoted or appointed to new positions. That included many employees who earned higher ranks working in fire suppression.

CFD Recognition Ceremony at department headquarters – December 10, 2018
CFD Volunteer Coordinator William Broscious with some of our newly appointed volunteer captains.

Several families were on hand for the ceremony at department headquarters to  celebrate the accomplishments of their loved ones.

Here is the complete list of honorees:

Senior Firefighter

Effective October 21, 2017

Hampton Bailey     Michael Baird     Thomas Bookman     Patrick Crumpton

Markus Ervin      Christian Kerr          William Neff            Justin Owens

 Le’Andre Patterson     Stephan Sims-King     Travis Wiggins      

Effective March 10, 2018

Gustavo Gonzalez

Effective May 19, 2018

Adam Baker     Jesse Bussey    Carl Edwards    Reinaldo Sabb

Effective December 15, 2018

 Javier Colon     David Cox     Cody Knight     Josh Moskaitis

Shaun Murphy      Alexander T.  Reese     Jaered Shelton

Gary Sopcheck     Guy Williams


Effective May 19, 2018

Thomas Nichols

Effective July 14, 2018

Thomas Ray

Effective September 8, 2018

Blake Hott

Effective December 1, 2018

Austin Graham     Acie Kibler     Adam Lundquist      Travis Pickett

Jonathan Lykes                                                             

Volunteer Captain

Effective December of 2018

Tiffany Bowen     Christopher Brazell     J.D. McCarley

Fire Captain

Effective September 8, 2018

Gary Walters     

Effective December 1, 2018

Dustin Lone     Bryan Spitzer

Battalion Chief

Effective December 1, 2018

James Warf

Battalion Chief James Warf being officially pinned by Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins

Division Chief

Effective December 1, 2018

Kevin Hart

Division Chief Kevin Hart being congratulated by Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins

Department Appointments

Public Information Officer – Mike DeSumma (Effective June 18, 2018)

Fire Communications Officer – Marcas Houtchings (Effective December 1, 2018)

Fire Training Chief – Anthony Holloway (Effective July 14, 2018)



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Holiday Season Kicks Off with Carolina Carillon Parade

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CFD was once again proud to take part in the annual Carolina Carillon Parade, which took place on Saturday December 1, 2018.

Third shift crews on Ladder 8, Engine 20 and Rescue 3 took part in the festivities. Columbia Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins led all three trucks down the parade route on Sumter Street going from Laurel Street to Senate Street.

Other participants in the 2018 parade included area youth groups, public safety agencies and school marching bands. 


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‘Mocktail Mixoff’ held at CFD headquarters to benefit MADD

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Columbia Richland Fire was proud to host a fundraiser on November 27, 2018 to help in the fight to end drunk driving.

CFD’s Laurel Street headquarters was the site of the first ever ‘Mocktail Mixoff,’ which showcased some of the best nonalcoholic cocktails from restaurants in the Columbia area.

The event also featured food, live music from ‘The Root Doctors’ and a silent auction.

All proceeds raised went to support Mother’s Against Drunk Driving.

In the end Cork’s Bartending would get the judge’s award for ‘Best Mocktail. ‘Liberty Tap Room’ would take home the ‘People’s Choice Award.’


Cork’s Bartending (left) took the judge’s award for ‘Best Mocktail’

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IMPORTANT REMINDER: be safe while cooking holiday meals

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With the Thanksgiving Day holiday quickly approaching Columbia Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins and staff want to remind area families to practice caution while cooking their big dinners to feed hungry guests.

“The holidays are always a time for making lasting memories with your loved ones,” Chief Jenkins said, “Don’t let that opportunity be spoiled because of a fire or serious injury. Fire-related emergencies occur all too often because of errors made while cooking and in some cases the impacts can be long lasting.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association, Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires. The second and third day highest days for such incidents are Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

The association also reported that in 2016 unattended cooking was the second highest cause of home fire deaths.

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 stovetop so you can keep an eye on the food.
  • 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.


(Image Courtesy of NFPA)

The NFPA has discouraged the use of turkey fryers citing the extreme danger if they are 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.

Staff at Columbia Richland Fire would like to wish everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

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CFD trucks roll down Sumter Street in annual Veterans Day Parade

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Columbia Richland Fire would like to thank everyone who came out to support the 2018 Veterans Day Parade in downtown Columbia.

CFD trucks were just one part of the parade, which made its way down Sumter Street from Laurel Street to Pendleton Street on Monday, November 12, 2018.

Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins and other members of the CFD command staff also took part.

Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs at area schools and area veterans groups were just a few of the other participants in this year’s parade. Each year the event is one of the largest Veterans Day parades in the southeastern United States.

Columbia Richland Fire wants to extend heartfelt thanks to all the men and women who have bravely served our country.

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Columbia Richland volunteer crews take part in training drill

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On Saturday, November 10, 2018 volunteer crews with Columbia Richland Fire got to exercise their skills in a mock firefighting drill.

The exercise, which was conducted at the CFD training grounds off of Bluff Road in Columbia, gave the crews practice in responding to a scene, flame suppression, property search and victim rescue.

The department was honored to have Assistant County Administrator Dr. Sandra Yudice in attendance for the drill.

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Firefighters recognized by Columbia City Council for heroic off-duty save

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11 firefighters with the City of Columbia were commended by city leaders and staff on the evening of November 6, 2018 for the steps they took last month to save a Richland Two student.

Josh Boyd with 7 of the CFD firefighters who helped save his life.

City Manager Teresa Wilson presented each firefighter with a City LIGHT Award for exhibiting excellence and dedication beyond the call of duty.

This came almost one month after the group performed life-saving aid on Richland Northeast High School QB Josh Boyd after he collapsed at an area gym.

“I am truly proud of these 11 firefighters for the crucial help they provided when it was most needed,” said Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “Whether or not they are working on a shift, the men and women of our department always stand ready to help the public.”

The firefighters were reportedly playing a pick-up game of basketball with Josh and a group of teens on October 10, 2018.

During the game witnesses say the teen suddenly collapsed and was exhibiting signs of what appeared to be a seizure. At one point Boyd stopped breathing and the firefighters began to perform CPR.

They did succeed in getting Boyd to breathe again by the time help arrived on scene.

Following a major surgery and days of treatment the teen was released from hospital care and has since made a full recovery. 

The recognition ceremony took place at the meeting of the Columbia City Council on November 6, 2018. Josh Boyd and his family were in attendance.

Joyce Boyd (mother of Josh Boyd) embracing CFD firefighters

The LIGHT Award is presented to city employees who demonstrate Leadership, Integrity, Generosity, Helpfulness and Talent (LIGHT).

The firefighters formally recognized were:

Fire Captain Kareem Spain

Engineer Arthur Mitchell

Senior Firefighter Jonathan Dukes

Senior Firefighter Stephan Sims-King

Firefighter Kiah Thomas

Firefighter Kiante Curenton

Firefighter Caleb McLaughlin

Firefighter Marcus Pee

Firefighter Andrew McClaine III 

Firefighter Sadarius Thomas

Firefighter Len K. Stokes Jr.

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CFD Firefighters place third at 2018 Public Safety Softball Tournament

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Columbia-Richland Fire was proud to take part in the 2018 Public Safety Softball Tournament on November 4, 2018.

The annual fundraiser brought an afternoon of softball fun to Spirit Communications Park. The Columbia Police Department, Richland County Sheriff’s Department and Lexington County Fire Service also took part.

All proceeds raised from ticket sales will go to benefit the Palmetto Health Breast Center to aid in the fight against breast cancer.

In the end CFD’s team was the second eliminated from competition. Columbia Police and the sheriff’s department were the last two teams standing in the double elimination tournament.

Both teams ended the day with one loss each. They decided to call it a tie for now and will play a final game at a later date.

Congratulations to everyone that took part!


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Public Safety Softball Tournament this Sunday, Nov 4th!

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If you happen to like watching live sports we hope you can join us at Spirit Communications Park this Sunday, November 4, 2018!

Columbia-Richland Fire is partnering with Columbia Police, the Richland County Sheriff’s Department and the Lexington County Fire Service to raise funds in support of people battling breast cancer.

A softball tournament between the 4 agencies will be taking place most of the day at the ballpark — going from 9:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m.

Tickets to get in are $6 and all proceeds raised will go to support the Breast Cancer Center at Palmetto Health! Concessions at the ballpark will also be open!

We hope many of you can make it show support for area first responders and a great cause!