First Responders & Civilians Honored For CPR Care That Saved Restaurant Worker

Staff members at Columbia’s ‘Blue Marlin’ restaurant as well as seven area first responders were recognized for the swift and efficient actions they took to save a man from sudden cardiac arrest last month.

On Thursday February 23, 2023, award presentations were made at the restaurant. Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins presented the CRFD Phoenix Award to the four firefighters and three Richland County EMS staff members that responded to the call. The ‘Blue Marlin’ also received a Certificate of Commendation from CRFD for the heroic acts taken by their staff.

CRFD firefighters responded to Blue Marlin on the morning of January 12, 2023 after getting reports that a kitchen worker there had been found unconscious.

Maegan Horton, who is an executive chef at the restaurant, immediately began performing CPR after telling her colleagues to call 9-1-1. CPR efforts continued once firefighters arrived on scene and an automated external defibrillator (AED) was also used on the patient. He was rushed from the scene by Richland County EMS and has since made a full recovery.

“Recent events in our country have once again demonstrated why it’s important for citizens to know how to do CPR. The actions taken by the staff at Blue Marlin made all the difference in keeping this man alive until our personnel could get to the scene,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins. “From there our firefighters were able to do the quality work that that they do and effectively administer the AED.”

“I’m very thankful that the firefighters showed up as quickly as they did,” Horton said.

According to Blue Marlin staff, the worker who became unresponsive passed out while he was in a walk-in cooler at the restaurant.

“I was looking for him and I couldn’t find him. I checked the walk-in cooler and he was sitting on the floor there,” Horton said. She then alerted her colleagues to call 9-1-1 while working to get the patient to another room. “I then laid him down on the floor and started CPR,” she said.

Every second counts when a person experiences cardiac arrest, so it is critically important to be trained on how to perform CPR and use an AED. The American Red Cross of South Carolina offers lifesaving skills classes in CPR, AED-use as well as First Aid. Officials with the Red Cross were also present for today’s award ceremony.

“Accidents and emergencies can happen anytime at home, in the workplace or in the community. Every second counts when sudden cardiac arrest occurs and it’s critical to know what to do in an emergency,” said Rebecca Jordan, Executive Director of the Central Chapter of the Red Cross of South Carolina. “The Red Cross recommends this lifesaving training for everyone, including parents, grandparents and caregivers. Red Cross First Aid Training takes only a few hours and can give you the skills and confidence to act in an emergency and help save a life.”

Each year more than 300,000 people die of sudden cardiac arrest in the U.S. For each minute that defibrillation is delayed, the person’s chance for survival is reduced by about 10%. On average nearly 2.2. million people get trained in Red Cross First Aid, CPR and AED courses each year. Classes are available in-person and online. For more information on classes available in your area visit


The Columbia-Richland Fire Department would like to extend its congratulations to today’s honorees:


Phoenix Award Winners


Lt. Kaitlyn Griffin, Richland County EMS      Sgt. Holly Yandle, Richland County EMS


Dr. Jessica Wanthal, Richland County EMS


Senior FF Patrick Hayes, CRFD                        Fire Capt. William Cunningham, CRFD


(Recognized But Not Pictured: Senior Firefighter William Harrelson & Firefighter Robert E. Ford Jr – CRFD)


CRFD Citizen Certificate of Commendation

Staff of Columbia’s ‘Blue Marlin’ Restaurant

‘Firefighters Feeding Families’ Hits All-Time High Raising 300 Bags of Food to Feed the Hungry

For the third straight year, the annual ‘Firefighters Feeding Families Holiday Food Drive’ was a tremendous success!  In recent days, the Columbia-Richland Fire Department collected enough donated canned goods and non-perishable food items to fill 300 bags.

Those bags were then distributed to families in need across the City of Columbia and Richland County.

“Our goal with this campaign each season is to try and assist as many struggling families as we possibly can,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “No person should have to go through the holidays facing hunger. Thanks to the tremendous generosity of our citizens and several large donations from area stores this year’s food drive will make an even greater positive impact on our communities.”

In raising 300 bags of food, ‘Firefighters Feeding Families’ has now set a new all-time record for donations. In 2021 the campaign distributed roughly 200 bags of food to members of the public.

The department would like to thank area Wal-Marts, Sam’s Club and Food Lions that contributed to the success of this year’s food drive by donating large quantities of food or providing grants funds so the department could purchase items.

Richland County Councilwoman Cheryl English and Columbia City Councilman Joe Taylor also made substantial financial contributions to help purchase food for the campaign. Donations of food were also made by Columbia City Council members William Brennan, Edward McDowell as well as Richland County Councilman Paul Livingston.

(from top left: Columbia City Councilman Joe Taylor with CRFD Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins; Columbia City Councilman Will Brennan & family with CRFD Assistant Chief Mickey Folsom; Assistant Richland County Administrator Dr. John Thompson, Columbia City Councilman Edward McDowell & Richland County Councilman Paul Livingston with CRFD Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins)

Following a large community collection day to close the drive on Friday December 16th, all of the donated food was distributed to area families the following week.

Columbia City Councilwoman Aditi Bussells and County Councilwoman English were on hand at department headquarters to assist fire department members with handing out the finished bags.

(Richland County Councilwoman Cheryl English (left) and Columbia City Councilwoman Dr. Aditi Bussells assisting on distribution day for ‘Firefighters Feeding Families’)

Families that received food assistance from the fire department were able to sign up for it in the weeks ahead of the collection day.

4 CRFD Crews Honored with Department’s ‘Phoenix Award’

In mid-December, 14 members of the Columbia-Richland Fire Department were recognized for the life-saving medical care they provided to citizens on the scenes of four separate emergency incidents.

Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins presented the Phoenix Award to each honoree during a series of recognition ceremonies at CRFD Headquarters.

“The Phoenix Award is presented to personnel who make critical judgements and actions to preserve the lives of injured or ill patients in the care of our department,” Chief Jenkins said, “I applaud each of these members on the work that they did helping members of our community. They gave four of our citizens a chance at life on the scenes of major medical calls.”

CRFD congratulates the following members of our staff who were honored:


2nd Shift – Battalion Chief Jacob Eller and Rescue Company 4

Battalion Chief Jacob Eller

Fire Captain Austin Graham

Engineer Garrit VanAmerongen

Engineer Daniel Watson

Firefighter Christian Johnson

On August 4, 2022 the personnel pictured above worked together to perform life-saving CPR on a male citizen. After administering an AED, the patient began to breathe again. He was later transported by Richland County EMS.

(pictured from left: Engineer Daniel Watson, Firefighter Christian Johnson, Engineer Garrit VanAmerongen, Fire Captain Austin Graham & Battalion Chief Jacob Eller)

Battalion Chief Jacob Eller was off duty at the time. He began performing CPR on the patient first before Rescue Company 4 got to the scene of the incident.


2nd Shift – Ladder Company 14

Fire Captain Austin Graham

Engineer John Munn

Senior Firefighter Francisco Mora

Firefighter Alexander Fant

On October 7, 2022 personnel on Ladder Company 14 performed lifesaving CPR on a citizen that had gone into cardiac arrest. When Richland County EMS arrived on scene to transport the patient, he had a pulse.

(pictured from left: Firefighter Alexander Fant, Senior Firefighter Francisco Mora, Engineer John Munn and Fire Captain Austin Graham)


2nd Shift – Engine 17

Engineer Robert Hollis

Senior Firefighter Mark O’Donnell

The crew of Engine 17 effectively administered rescue breathing and drug overdose treatment for an unresponsive patient on November 9, 2022. Richland County EMS later arrived on the scene and transported the patient to an area hospital.

(pictured from left: Senior Firefighter Mark O’Donnell & Engineer Robert Hollis)


3rd  Shift – Engine 3

Fire Captain Gary Walters

Engineer Dave Ellisor

Senior Firefighter Matthew Valencia

Firefighter Kobe Little

On November 10, 2022 the crew of Engine 3 delivered life-saving CPR to a female citizen that had gone into cardiac arrest. The patient reportedly had no pulse when our firefighters began working on her but after they administered an AED the patient’s pulse was regained.

The patient was later rushed to an area hospital by Richland County EMS and reportedly still had a pulse when she arrived there.

(Pictured from left: Firefighter Kobe Little, Senior Firefighter Matthew Valencia, Engineer Dave Ellisor and Fire Captain Gary Walters)

CRFD Reminder: Dry Christmas Trees & Damaged Holiday Decorations DO NOT BELONG In Your Home

As the Christmas holiday draws closer, the Columbia-Richland Fire Department wants to once again remind area residents that fire safety has to be kept in mind when setting up holiday trees and decorations.

If you plan to get a live Christmas tree for your home WATER IT REGULARLY!

“Live Christmas trees drink a lot of water each and every day,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “The best thing to do is make it a habit to check the water level in your tree stand multiple times each day. If the level ever appears low, add more water to the stand. This will help keep your Christmas tree green and prevent it from becoming a MAJOR fire hazard in your home.”

Studies and videos produced by the National Fire Protection Association clearly document the dangers of Christmas tree fires.

The NFPA has reported that from 2016 through 2020 fire departments across the U.S. responded to an average of 160 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year.

An additional 790 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!

Source: NFPA


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.
  • DO NOT link multiple extension cords or overload power outlets to power holiday lights
  • 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.


Source: U.S. Fire Administration


  • 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.


‘Firefighters Feeding Families’ Returns For Third Year Collecting Food for area Needy

Leading up to the Christmas holiday members of the Columbia-Richland Fire Department will be mounting their seasonal campaign to help feed the less fortunate.

The third annual ‘Firefighters Feeding Families Holiday Food Drive’ will culminate with a community collection day on Friday December 16, 2022 at CRFD Headquarters. Area citizens are encouraged to swing by the department’s fire museum that day and in the days leading up to it with donations of canned goods and other non-perishable food items. From there donations will be sorted, bagged and distributed to citizens facing food needs this holiday season.

‘Firefighters Feeding Families’ entered its second year last December. By the time the campaign ended roughly 200 households in the Columbia area were provided food through donations.

‘Firefighters Feeding Families’ 2021

“The success of this campaign is entirely made possible thanks to donations from our citizens and community partners,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “This year we once again hope the public will be as generous as possible to help us give area families in need adequate holiday meals.”

Examples of non-perishable items that can be dropped off for the drive include:

  • Canned meats and tuna
  • Canned potatoes, vegetables and fruits
  • Pasta and rice products
  • Canned pasta
  • Canned soups and stews
  • Cereals
  • Canned and dry beans
  • Pasta sauces
  • Nuts and dried fruits


All collected items will go directly to support area families in needs. Citizens needing food assistance can call the department Monday through Friday during regular business hours (8 a.m. until 5 p.m.) at 803-545-3700. Messages can be left at that number.

For further information on the campaign, contact PIO Mike DeSumma at 803-413-8555 or by sending an email to

FD REMINDER: Supervision is Key When Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner

Families around our area will be getting together this weekend for Thanksgiving food and holiday fun. Yet all the merriment can be taken away quickly if a cooking-related fire breaks out.

“Unfortunately Thanksgiving Day is the peak day for these types of fires across our country,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “It’s very important for everyone to understand that while preparing a holiday meal to NEVER leave the cooking unattended. This is especially key if you plan to deep fry a turkey and deal with large amounts of grease. Not paying attention and taking caution can produce a large, dangerous fire quickly.”

Each year Thanksgiving Day is the peak day for home cooking fires in the U.S. according to the National Fire Protection Association. In 2019 alone fire departments across the country responded to an estimated 1,400 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving.

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 stove top so you can keep an eye on the food.
  • Stay in the home when cooking your turkey, and check on it frequently.
  • 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.



The NFPA has discouraged the use of turkey fryers citing the extreme danger if they’re 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.
  • Follow these steps to make sure you use the proper amount of grease:
    • Place the turkey (still in its wrapper) in the pot.
    • Pour water in the pot until it just covers the turkey.
    • Take the turkey out of the pot.
    • On the outside of the pot, mark to water level with a marker
    • This marker represents the correct amount of grease you need in your pot


The Columbia-Richland Fire Department would like to wish everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving!


CRFD Asking Citizens to Use Caution While Heating Their Homes

This week according to the National Weather Service, the Columbia area is expected to see below average temperatures for several days. Nightly lows on some evenings could hover around or dip below freezing.

For this reason CRFD wants to remind our citizens of safety precautions that they must take before firing up sources for home heating.

“Fireplaces and space heaters are just a few things that give us trouble each and every year when the temperatures drop,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “The key steps to heating your home safely is to (1) make sure that all heating equipment is working properly, (2) make sure all equipment is powered and used properly and (3) use EXTREME caution when using heating sources that have open flames. Above all else NEVER compromise your safety or the safety of your friends and loved ones in order to heat your home.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries and the third leading cause of home fire deaths. Fire departments across the U.S. responded to an estimated average of 48,530 fires involving heating equipment PER YEAR from 2014 through 2018. These fires resulted in annual loses of 500 civilian deaths and caused thousands of injuries and billions in property damages.

Here’s a few tips to heat your home safely this winter, courtesy of NFPA:

  • Keep anything that can burn (including carpet) at least 3 feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.  Only use space heaters on hard surfaces e.g.: hardwood, tile, etc.

  • Have a 3-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional. Also make sure your home heating equipment is UL  listed.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed. Also consider purchasing space heaters with a ‘kill switch’ that will turn the unit off if it tips over.
  • Power your space heater by plugging the device DIRECTLY into a wall outlet! DO NOT use extension cords or power strips to power the space heater! Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
  • Make sure your fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month.
  • Never use a portable generator inside your home. Place it outside and at least 10 feet away from the building.
  • Install wood burning stoves following manufacturer’s instructions or have a professional do the installation. All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside to avoid carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.
  • Install and maintain CO alarms to avoid the risk of CO poisoning. If you smell gas in your gas heater, do not light the appliance. Leave the home immediately and call your local fire department or gas company. Make sure that CO alarms are on each level of your home.

Firefighters Want You to be Fire Safe While Enjoying Halloween Tricks & Treats

With families across our area getting ready to have a festive Halloween evening of costumes and candy, the Columbia-Richland Fire Department wants to remind everyone to avoid the fire-related dangers that can appear around the holiday.

Citizens are encouraged to avoid using open-flames as part of Halloween decorations and costumes and to use costumes with non-flammable materials.

“Dry materials like crepe paper should be avoid at all costs as they can easily ignite if they are placed near a heating source,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “Having a fire can turn your Halloween night scary for real so when at all possible use battery-powered decorations for lighting and avoid open flame candles.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association decorations are the first thing to ignite in roughly 800 home fires reported each year. More than one-third of those fires were started by a candle.

Additionally firefighters ask you to consider the following tips:

  • When choosing a costume, stay away from long trailing fabric. If your child is wearing a mask, make sure the eyeholes are large enough so he or she can see out.
  • Provide children with flashlights to carry for lighting or glow sticks as part of their costume.
  • Dried flowers, cornstalks and crepe paper catch fire easily. Keep all decorations away from open flames and other heat sources like light bulbs and heaters.

  • Use a battery-operated candle or glow-stick in jack-o-lanterns. If you use a real candle, use extreme caution. Make sure children are watched at all times when candles are lit. When lighting candles inside jack-o-lanterns, use long, fireplace-style matches or a utility lighter. Be sure to place lit pumpkins well away from anything that can burn and far enough out of the way of trick-or-treaters, doorsteps, walkways and yards.
  • Remember to keep exits clear of decorations, so nothing blocks escape routes.
  • Make sure all smoke alarms in the home are working.
  • Tell children to stay away from open flames including jack-o-lanterns with candles in them. Be sure they know how to stop, drop and roll if their clothing catches fire. (Have them practice, stopping immediately, dropping to the ground, covering their face with hands, and rolling over and over to put the flames out.)
  • Extinguish candles by taking away oxygen from the wick. You can use a candlesnuffer to extinguish your candles or other non-combustible materials.  Avoid the use of candles in the bedroom and other areas where people may fall asleep.
  • Keep candles at least 1 foot (30 centimeters) away from anything that can burn.
  • Use candleholders that are sturdy, and won’t tip over easily.

  • Put candleholders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface.
  • Light candles carefully. Keep your hair and any loose clothing away from the flame.
  • Don’t burn a candle all the way down — put it out before it gets too close to the holder or container.
  • Never use a candle if oxygen is used in the home.
  • Have flashlights and battery-powered lighting ready to use during a power outage. Never use candles.

Finally, NEVER ever leave a child alone in a room with a burning candle!  Keep matches and lighters up high and out of children’s reach, in a locked cabinet.

The Columbia-Richland Fire Department hopes that everyone has a scary yet safe 2022 Halloween!


CRFD Promotes 20 Members During Mid 2022

Roughly 20 members of the Columbia-Richland Fire Department earned promotions to new ranks of leadership during the spring, summer and early fall months of 2022. Many of them would officially be recognized for their achievements during a promotional ceremony held at department headquarters on the evening of Wednesday, October 12, 2022. Others honorees were recognized at earlier dates during the year.

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


Promoted to Senior Firefighter

Jackson Day                         Ryan Espling                          Zakary Humphries

Matthew Ives                            Caleb Jacobs                       Cruz Mata

Nathan Poore


Promoted to Volunteer Engineer

Emily Joyce


Promoted to Engineer

Luis Brown                                 Reinaldo Sabb


Promoted to Fire Captain

James Ashford                            Luke Donovan                       Austin Graham

Corey Grooms                             Michael LeGrand                   John Paolucci

Kenneth Warr


Promoted to Battalion Chief

Jacob Eller                                     Gregory Walker


Promoted to Division Chief of Special Operations

Chad Harmon


2022 Fire Prevention Week Kicks Off With Community Parade & Block Party

CRFD firetrucks would roll through communities along Ridgewood Avenue in Columbia for the annual Fire Prevention Parade on Saturday morning October 8, 2022.

This was the Columbia-Richland Fire Department’s first time holding the event during Fire Prevention Week in three years. The parade had to be cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Our partners at South Carolina State Fire took part in this year’s parade as well as the marching band and cheerleading team for nearby Eau Claire High School.

The parade made its way down down Ridgewood Avenue and ended at Hyatt Park, where a community block party was held afterwards.

CRFD thanks everyone that took part in this year’s parade and wants to remind all of our citizens to please develop and practice fire escape plans for your homes.