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Department to Sound ‘Sirens for Solidarity’ Friday Evening April 3

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As the spread of COVID-19 continues to grip our state, the Columbia Richland Fire Department will join other area public safety agencies in an initiative to remind the public that first responders are still here to serve.

The department will be taking part in ‘Sirens for Solidarity’ on the evening of Friday, April 3, 2020. At 7 p.m. all firetrucks that are at department stations will sound their alarms and flash their lights for 30 to 45 seconds. The purpose of this is to convey a message to our citizens that through the long and difficult days ahead first responders will continue to provide the highest quality of service possible.

“I’m excited to join our partners in the fire service and public safety as a whole by taking part in this initiative,” said Columbia Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “In these uncertain times we want the communities we serve to understand that the COVID-19 crisis will not stop first responders from providing protection and security. It is our constant mission that will not waver in the face of this pandemic.”

CRFD will be joining the Irmo Fire District, the Lexington County Fire Service and other area public safety agencies in the campaign. Area fire departments are also working on new ways to promote fire safety in communities over the coming weeks as residents continue to stay home due to the virus.

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Emergency ‘Stay Home’ Order to Take Effect in Columbia on March 29

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Columbia City Council has declared an emergency order enacting a Stay Home Stay Safe order, which will become effective on Sunday, March 29 at 12:01 a.m. Ordinance 2020-034 was discussed and voted on in a City Council session held at 2:00 pm today, March 26.

According to the ordinance, because “Covid-19 is now aggressively spreading across the state with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (“SCDHEC”) confirming the localized person-to-person spread of COVID-19 in South Carolina, which indicates a significantly increasing risk of exposure and infection to City of Columbia residents and creating an extreme public health risk,” then “it is imperative that residents and non-residents of this great City shelter at home, unless providing or requiring an essential service, (and) remain at a safe distance of at least six (6) feet from others while in public.”

Columbia City Council has determined a list of essential services, which is included in the ordinance, and includes health care operations, infrastructure operations, manufacturing, retail and service operations, as well as media, financial and professional services, commercial residential services and others.

Citizens are encouraged to enjoy outdoor activities, but follow these guidelines specified in the ordinance: “Individuals should limit outdoor recreational activities to those that allow for social distancing of at least six feet, do not entail coming into close contact with other people or involve the sharing of equipment.”

The ordinance with the full list of exempted essential services is attached, and can also be viewed at the City of Columbia website by clicking here.

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Fire Department Stressing Safe Distancing & Cooking Safety While Home

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With the threat of COVID-19 forcing many area families to stay at home, the fire department wants to remind residents about the CRITICAL importance of practicing fire safety in the kitchen.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the United States. This applies not only to adults cooking but children as well. 

“During the Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19) many children may find themselves home throughout the day while parents and/or guardians are at work,” said Columbia Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “We as a department want families to be safe not only from this virus, but also from the risks created as a result of this pandemic.”

Children cooking at home without a parent or guardian can raise the risk of a fire happening.  This can be caused by unattended cooking and/or not practicing safety precautions while preparing food. 

To keep you and your family safe and protect your property from the threat of fire — we encourage you to follow these guidelines: 

  • Have an adult or responsible person cook for children while you are away from home. This could by a babysitter, older sibling, neighbor, etc.
  • To prevent children from cooking, have prepared meals at home for them during this time.
  • Whenever possible, have your child use a microwave to heat food rather than use the stove.
  • KEEP aluminum foil out of the microwave and plastics out of the oven.

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food.
  • Leave a safety area of at least 3 feet around the stove while hot items are being prepared. This will help prevent young children from suffering burns.
  • Make sure kids stay away from hot food and liquids.
  • Keep a Class A-B-C Dry Chemical Fire Extinguisher close to your stove in the event you have a grease fire.
  • IF A GREASE FIRE OCCURS DO NOT USE WATER TO EXTINGUISH 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.

Columbia Richland Fire continues to be committed to keeping our residents safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Emergency Disaster Declaration in Effect for Richland County

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From the Richland County Public Information Office

Richland County Council Chair Paul Livingston has signed an emergency declaration in accordance with County ordinance to initiate specific actions to respond to COVID-19, or coronavirus.

Over the past four weeks, County Administrator Leonardo Brown has met with members of the County’s executive leadership team and some Councilmembers to discuss the County’s response to the emerging COVID-19 crisis. Livingston and Brown also took part in a Midlands Coronavirus Task Force news conference March 6.

The emergency declaration gives the Council Chair and Administrator operational authority to adequately respond to an existing or anticipated emergency situation, as was the case with the 2015 flood and subsequent weather emergencies. Among other things, the emergency declaration allows for the use of available funds and other resources, transfer personnel or functions to address the crisis and suspend regulations that would hinder a prompt response.

“We are taking measured steps to face this evolving threat and its potential impact in Richland County,” Brown said. “Richland County will continue to closely monitor and coordinate with other government and health officials to assess the situation and continue to receive guidance from DHEC and the CDC.”

While cases of the virus are confirmed in South Carolina, there currently are no confirmed cases in Richland County.

The County is operating under conditions as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Richland County Government is enacting additional safety protocols and will increase communications to residents and employees as the situation develops.

For more information on the county’s planning for COVID-19 click here.



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Columbia City Curfew to Begin Wednesday March 18th Due to COVID-19

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Columbia City Council has confirmed Mayor Steve Benjamin’s State of Emergency declaration of a city-wide curfew (Ordinance #2020-031) that will go into effect on Wednesday, March 18. In the interest of public safety, the curfew restricts travel and public gatherings from 11:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m., with the exception of persons traveling to and from work and for healthcare.

Equally, the following persons are exempted and free to travel to carry out their duties: police officers, firefighters, active duty military, health care providers, and public works and utility workers employed by any public utility, the City of Columbia, the Counties of Richland and Lexington, the State of South Carolina and the United States of America.

“This was a very difficult decision and not a measure we take lightly,” said Mayor Steve Benjamin. “To get through this current public health crisis and to save lives, it will have to be a collective effort between all of us.”

This emergency ordinance shall be terminated by the issuance of another ordinance or shall automatically expire on the 61st day after enactment of this ordinance.

Read the emergency ordinance by clicking here.

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Mayor Declares State of Emergency Due to COVID-19

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Mayor Stephen Benjamin has declared a State of Emergency, effective immediately, in an effort to reduce the spread of and exposure to the Coronavirus. The attached ordinance will be sent to City Council for review and discussion during tomorrows council meeting. 

ORDINANCE NO.: 2020-031

An Emergency Order Declaring a State of Emergency for the City of Columbia, South Carolina

WHEREAS, SARS-CoV-2 (the Coronavirus) the virus that causes the disease COVID-19 is responsible for an outbreak that began in Wuhan, China, and is a serious public health concern;

WHEREAS, on March 6, 2020 the City of Columbia convened a meeting of the Midlands Coronavirus Task Force to begin working with other government agencies in an effort to prevent
the spread of the disease; and,

WHEREAS, on March 10, 2020, the City of Columbia suspended the normal operating procedures for City Council; and,

WHEREAS, on March 11, 2020 The World Health Organization declared a world-wide pandemic; and,

WHEREAS, on March 13, 2020 the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump declared a national emergency for the United States and its territories over the Coronavirus; and,

WHEREAS, on Friday, March 13, 2020, the Governor of the State of South Carolina Henry McMaster declared a State of Emergency due to the Coronavirus;

WHEREAS, as of March 16, 2020 there have been thirty-three cases reported in the State of South Carolina; and,

WHEREAS, the City Council finds that it is in the public interest to protect public health and the general welfare of the public to temporarily suspend the normal operating procedures of
City Council; and,

WHEREAS, the City of Columbia is working with other government agencies in an effort to prevent the spread of the disease; and,

WHEREAS, Sec. 2-86 of the Ordinances of the City of Columbia allows for the adoption of emergency ordinances on one reading without notice or hearing by affirmative two-thirds of the
members present, and shall expire automatically on the 61st day following enactment; and,

WHEREAS, Sec. 7-32 of the Ordinances of the City of Columbia allows for the imposition of a curfew, Sec. 7-33 allows for limitation of application to any area specifically designated and
described within the jurisdiction of the city;

WHEREAS, there is an increased risk of the COVID-19 virus spreading within the population at gatherings of large groups such as public festivals and events; and,

WHEREAS, it has been determined by the Mayor and City Council that the temporary postponement of all permits allowing for the congregation at public and private events, festivals
and private events to be held on City-owned property or City-owned property operated by another party be implemented effective as of March 16, 2020 in an effort to reduce the spread of
the COVID-19 virus; and,

WHEREAS, it is recommended that businesses restrict occupancy of patrons to no more than half of their designated legal capacity as set by the Fire Marshall and to restrict patrons to
no more than six (6) people per table with a distance of at least six (6) feet between tables. It is further recommended that patrons be encouraged to use take out, drive through and delivery
options; and,

WHEREAS, in the event that the recommendations of social distancing are not immediately put into place, the Mayor and Council at their discretion may mandate these measures and
implement a curfew;


BE ORDAINED by the Mayor and Council this ___ day of _________, 2020, that the City of Columbia hereby declares a State of Emergency for the City of Columbia; and,

BE IT FURTHER ORDAINED that it is mandated that businesses restrict occupancy of patrons to no more than half of their designated legal capacity as set by the Fire Marshall and to
restrict patrons to no more than six (6) people per table with a distance of at least six (6) feet between tables. It is further recommended that patrons be encouraged to use take out, drive
through and delivery options

BE IT FURTHER ORDAINED that this emergency ordinance shall be terminated by the issuance of another ordinance or shall automatically expire on the 61st day after enactment of
this ordinance.

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City of Columbia Modifying Operations Due to COVID-19

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The City of Columbia will modify services until further notice to protect citizens and minimize opportunities to spread COVID-19 in our community. 

On Monday, March 16, 2020, City employees reported to work for a normal work day. The general public is encouraged to continue practicing appropriate hand washing and social distancing and to only visit City offices if absolutely necessary. 


Taking into consideration the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations on social distancing and measures taken across the nation to include travel bans, school closures, quarantines and event cancellations, the City will take the following precautionary measures:


          Effective Tuesday, March 17, 2020: 

•    Non-essential city employees will report on staggered schedules or telecommute to minimize person-to-person contact. 

•    Access to public buildings will be restricted. 

•    Payment Centers will be closed until further notice and payments will be accepted over the phone, online, by mail and drop box at Washington Square, 1136 Washington Street. 

•    Business License renewals can be mailed in. Staff will then create a bill to be mailed to the owner. The deadline for business license renewals will be extended. 

•    Permits, licensing and payment assistance will be handled online or by phone. Payments for parking related fees can be made on-line. 

•    Water/Sewer service terminations for non-payment will be suspended until further notice. 

•    Requests for water to be restored, payment arrangement and delinquency procedures will be modified. Please call 803-545-3300 or go to City of Columbia website for more information. 

•    Effective immediately, City parks and community centers will be closed until further notice, including all playground equipment, tennis courts, picnic shelters and restroom facilities. Senior trips/activities will also be postponed to create social distance, thereby protecting senior citizens who are most at risk.

•    All City permitted events are encouraged to be postponed or canceled until further notice, in accordance with CDC guidance for large events and mass gatherings. Five Points St. Patrick’s Day and Soda City Market are postponed.

•    City Council and other public meetings will be hosted via internet and can be accessed at City of Columbia’s website.


Essential Services and Personnel to Continue Operations with Caution

Columbia Police Department:

•    All School Resource Officers, Municipal Court Officers, will be reassigned to assist daily Police Operations.

•    All emergency calls will be handled following normal operational protocols.

•    Police HQ lobby will be closed to the public. Citizens will be redirected or screened by staff via intercom and telephone at the main entrance. 

•    Police Region offices will be closed to the public. Region staff will triage citizen walk ups and address appropriately on case by case basis. 

•    Police response will be limited to emergency/in-progress calls. 

•    Non-emergency calls will be handled by phone. 

•    Non-emergency police reports will be completed over the phone or online. 

•    Property checks will be expanded to include any closed businesses or businesses with modified hours of operation. Business owners should contact the PD at 803-545-3500 if they would like to be added to the property check list. 

•    The Citizens Police Academy and ride-alongs will be postponed.


Columbia Richland Fire: 

•    Fire response will be limited only to medical calls of an acute nature (heart attacks, not breathing). 

•    Firefighters will wear additional personal protective gear during medical response calls. 

•    Public access to fire stations is restricted for non-emergency matters and visitors will be limited to the truck bays whenever possible.

•    Requested Fire reports will be emailed as requested. 

•    Public demos and public safety educational events are postponed. 

•    All reading programs at schools have been cancelled until further notice. 

•    The “Fill the Boot Campaign” for the MDA will be postponed. 


911-Emergency Communications:

•    Calls will be dispatched as usual but screened to identify calls for service to citizens potentially exposed to COVID-19. 

•    Public access is restricted to 911-Emergency Communications Center for non-emergency matters.

•    A coordinated response protocol has been established for COVID-19 patients with EMS and hospitals.

•    Everbridge (Reverse 911) will be implemented.


Municipal Court: 

•    Court sessions will be canceled, effective March 17, 2020, and all sessions will be rescheduled. All parties will be notified in writing. 

•    Bond hearings will be held once a day as normal at the detention center. Preliminary hearings will also be held as scheduled.

•    Payment of fines can be done by mail or the online state system.

Columbia Water: 

Customers can be assured that our water is safe to drink. Our standard disinfection and treatment practices are very effective for inactivation and removal of viruses, including COVID-19. 

Business continuity plans have been implemented to ensure the supply of clean, safe drinking water and environmental protection through effective management of our wastewater.

•    All Water and Wastewater Operations will continue. 

•    In person water and sewer tap sales are suspended. All tap sales should be handled by calling the Department of Engineering at (803) 545-3400. 

•    Leak repair, restoration and sewer call response will continue, but on a prioritized basis. There may be a delayed response for minor issues. 

•    Limit employee-to-employee contact and employee-to-public contact.


Public Works: 

•    Solid Waste service will run on normal schedules at this time.

•    The following essential functions will continue, with any necessary additional safety protocols for staff and adjustments to shifts as needed: Performance of maintenance, landscaping, tree trimming/pruning; Emergency animal control services; Signal and street light maintenance; Response to storm water issues. Public access to Public Works is restricted. 

•    Employee-to-employee contact and employee-to-public contact will be limited in accordance with appropriate CDC guidelines regarding social distancing.


Parks and Recreation: 

•    Effective immediately, afterschool programs at all City of Columbia Parks are being suspended until further notice.

•    Parks and Recreation Administration office will close to the public. 

•    All reservations/permits will be postponed or cancelled until further notice.


The Customer Care call center will continue with normal call center operations Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with reduced staffing and response available on a 24-hour basis at 803-545-3300 for citizens to report concerns and maintenance needs. We are asking citizens for their patience because there may be longer call wait times and delays. Citizens may also use the app My Columbia SC to report a concern. The City of Columbia website and social media accounts will be updated regularly. Payments will be accepted online at and through the mail to P.O. Box 147; Columbia, SC 29217. Also, customers can drop off payments at the drop box at Washington Square, 1136 Washington Street, Columbia, SC 29201.

Citizens can use the following portals for Solid Waste information: Facebook page at City of Columbia, SC Public Works and Solid Waste App at MyColumbiaSC.  

“We do not underestimate the unprecedented circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 Pandemic. As a direct result, we are extremely concerned and conscious of the impact these circumstances may have on our citizens, customers and business owners,” said City Manager Teresa Wilson. “We have thoughtfully considered every public service, business function or process, and of course, public safety protocol with the utmost analysis as to how any changes will affect our community. The precautionary measures as have been outlined are meant to strike a necessary balance to ensure the safety of all and to continue the essential functions of this municipality. We are committed to fulfilling our responsibilities to the citizens of Columbia for whom we deeply care and take honor in serving.”

For the latest updates, please visit our website at and follow us on our social media platforms. Facebook (CityofColumbia), Instagram (wearecolumbia), Twitter (CityofColumbia) and YouTube (ColumbiaSCGovernment). 

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2020 ‘Fill the Boot’ Campaign to Benefit MDA to be Rescheduled Due to Coronavirus

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In light of recent developments surrounding the coronavirus, department heads have decided to reschedule our 2020 ‘Fill the Boot’ Campaign to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Collection dates were scheduled to be March 18th through March 20th but now they will be postponed for a later date.

All department activities for ‘Fill the Boot’ that week have also been cancelled.

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Take Steps to Protect You & Your Loved Ones From the Coronavirus

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In light of the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus, Columbia Richland Fire wants to make sure you have all the essential information concerning the disease. That includes ways to prevent it!

Information about the Coronavirus can be found by following these links:


Videos on the disease can also be found by clicking on the links below:


REMEMBER! The key way to keep yourself from developing a respiratory virus (like the Coronavirus) is to stop the spread of germs!

  • Wash your hands often!
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands!
  • Avoid contact with sick people!
  • Stay home while you are sick and avoid others!
  • Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing!
  • Clean and isinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces!

For the latest updates regarding the Coronavirus visit the SCDHEC website by clicking here!



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Two New Department Engines Ushered In with ‘Community Push In’s’

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Over the course of February two new fire engines would officially be christened into service for Columbia Richland Fire through two Community Push In ceremonies.

The first was held on Monday, February 10 to highlight Station 30’s new fire engine, which will protect communities along parts of Leesburg Road and Garners Ferry Road. It was paid for by Richland County with the help of a federal community development block grant.

County officials joined fire department staff in ceremoniously pushing the new engine into its bay at Station 30.

A second Push In ceremony was held on Friday February 21 for Station 8’s new fire engine. Among its features are state-of-the-art traffic advisory lights to better protect our firefighters while they are working on the scene of roadway emergencies.

Both leaders with the City of Columbia and Richland County were in attendance.