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10 Firefighters Recognized for Recent Promotions with CRFD

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During the month of March the Columbia-Richland Fire Department was honored to recognize 10 members of the department who all earned promotions during the first quarter of 2021.

CRFD Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins officially presented each honoree with their new badge during a series of promotional ceremonies held at department headquarters. Honorees were allowed to invite a limited number of guests to attend. Everyone in attendance adhere to COVID-19 preventative guidelines.

The following promotions went into effect on March 20, 2021. CRFD is proud to recognize the following firefighters on being promoted to new ranks.

Promoted to Engineer

Adam Baker                                                                          Sebastian Shealy

Russell Burgess

Justin Crum

Kiante Curenton

Michael Driggers

Nicholas McDowell

Eduardo Ramirez

 

Promoted to Fire Captain

Cleo Jackson III

Mark Nuovo

 

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Severe Weather on March 18 Could Bring Strong Winds & Tornadoes

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The entire Columbia-metro area and surrounding Richland County is likely to see severe weather during much of the day on Thursday March 18, 2021. According to the National Weather Service these storms are likely to produce widespread damaging winds, strong tornadoes and large hail.

The strongest chance of severe weather could come during the afternoon hours on March 18.

CRFD is reminding citizens to prepare for this dangerous weather and take the following precautions:

  • With strong winds likely BE ALERT for downed trees and debris in the roadways while you’re out driving.
  • If a power line comes down near you, assume the line is active and keep clear from it
  • BE ALERT while driving for the possibility of flooded roadways. If you come across a road blocked by water turn your vehicle around and find another route. Don’t drive through flood waters!
  • Have an emergency kit ready for your home with a flashlight, batteries and other items in case you lose power. For a checklist of items to put in your emergency kit, click here.
  • If you lose power use flashlights for emergency lighting. Avoid the use of candles!
  • In the event a tornado warning is issued for your immediate area go to the most interior room in your home and get away from any windows!

For the latest information on the storm stay tuned to local media and have multiple ways to get informed on the latest watches and warnings from the National Weather Service.

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Firefighters Reminding Citizens to Check Smoke Alarms During Daylight Savings Time

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Staff at the Columbia-Richland Fire Department are encouraging citizens to not waste the opportunity to check their smoke alarms when it comes time to ‘Spring Forward’ on Sunday March 14th.

“When you set your clocks forward one hour this Sunday for Daylight Savings Time also be sure to change the batteries in ALL the smoke alarms in your home or business. It’s a perfect reminder to help ensure that you and your loved ones are safe in the event a fire breaks out,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “If something catches fire you want your smoke alarms to be working.”

Roughly 3 out of every 5 fire-related deaths occur in homes with no working smoke alarms, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Not all smoke alarms are designed the same, which is why it’s important to know what kinds of alarms you have in your home and whether or not they require replaceable batteries.

Here’s a few tips from NFPA on assessing the smoke alarms that you own:

 

  • Smoke alarms with internal 10-year batteries are designed to remain effective for up to 10 years. If the alarm chirps, warning that the battery is low, replace the entire smoke alarm right away.
  • Smoke alarms with any other type of battery need a new battery at least once a year. If that alarm chirps, warning the battery is low, replace the battery right away.
  • When replacing a battery, follow manufacturer’s list of batteries on the back of the alarm or manufacturer’s instructions. Manufacturer’s instructions are specific to the batteries (brand and model) that must be used. The smoke alarm may not work properly if a different kind of battery is used.

 

During the year citizens are also encouraged to test their smoke alarms at least once a month to make sure they are functioning properly. Alarms should also be placed inside and outside all sleeping areas of the home and on every floor of the home.

Replaceable batteries in Carbon-Monoxide (CO) alarms on your property should also be changed during Daylight Savings Time in order to keep you and others safe from the threat of CO emissions.

 

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REMINDER: City of Columbia Protective Mask Ordinance Remains In Effect

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In the interest of public health, the Columbia City Council voted to extend an emergency ordinance and amend certain emergency ordinances related to COVID-19 during their virtual City Council meeting on Tuesday, February 2, 2021.

Included in that ordinance is the requirement that protective masks be worn in all public places within the city. This includes busy sidewalks, waiting areas and inside commercial establishments.

The emergency ordinance that was approved on February 2, 2021 is still in effect. To view it in its entirety, click here.

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CRFD Welcomes 16 New Firefighters at Graduation Service

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Columbia Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins officially confirmed 16 new firefighters for the department as members of the 2020-02 CRFD Recruit Class graduated on the morning of March 5, 2021.

Each recruit was presented their badge at an outdoor ceremony held on the grounds of Benedict College. Commencement exercises were live streamed from the college for friends and family members of the recruits to enjoy. A small number of guests were also allowed to attend. Everyone who took part adhered to COVID-19 preventative guidelines.

“I applaud these 16 recruits on answering the call to serve their communities and our citizens across the City of Columbia and Richland County,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “They are the second group of recruits to come through our fire academy at a time when COVID-19 continues to create challenges for the Midlands and our state. Receiving their badges today is a true testament to everything that they’ve had to overcome and I look forward to following their firefighting careers as they begin service here at CRFD.”

All members of class 20-02 will report to work beginning this Saturday March 6, 2021.

CRFD would like to congratulate the members of Recruit Class 2020-02.

 

Jason Bordeaux 

Jeremy Bouknight 

Marcin Chrzanowski 

Andrew Curry 

Clinton Edwards 

Jessie Hardin 

Douglas Harrison 

James Hood 

Jonathan Hoskins 

Christian Johnson 

Christopher Johnson 

Kobe Little 

Devonte Smikle 

Matthew Smith 

Hunter Spehar

 Howard Washington

 

 

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2-Alarm Fire Displaces 30 People at Alcott Drive Apartment Complex

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More than two dozen tenants at a Columbia-area apartment complex were left without a place to stay after a 2-Alarm fire ripped through their building on the afternoon of January 29, 2021.

An investigation by CRFD’s fire marshals office later determined that the massive fire at Willow Run Apartments on Alcott Drive was caused by a space heater in one apartment that was not being powered properly. Heavy fire had broken through the roof of the building by the time the first department crews arrived on scene.

All occupants of the building were able to escape safely. Multiple units of the building did suffer significant damages.

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CRFD Selected for National Pilot Program Focused on Community Risk Reduction

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Recently the Columbia-Richland Fire Department became one of only 250 fire-service agencies in the U.S. that will take part in a new nationwide pilot program to map areas of risk in our communities.

In the coming weeks a new software will be coming online at the department that will help keep track of and chart areas in Richland County that have experienced fires and other types of emergencies. Using this information, the department can then take actions that will help reduce risk in communities that need it the most.

“This is part of our duty as firefighters and protectors of the public,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “We not only must respond to emergencies but must also take steps to prevent them from happening in the first place. I’m excited to see how our department puts this new software to use and can’t wait to see the difference it will make as we move our mission forward.”

The pilot program is being organized with fire departments through the National Fire Protection Association.

According to NFPA, the concept of community risk reduction (CRR) – a process that identifies and prioritizes risks and ensures impactful mitigation initiatives – has been gaining traction across North America for more than 20 years. Innovative technology, access to data, and a shifting focus on prevention have resulted in new energy around this process. Reflecting that momentum, NFPA’s CRA tool works to help fire departments aggregate and disseminate data that pinpoint where risks exist within a given community.

“Access to accurate data will allow CRR leaders to use insights and make informed decisions about where to focus efforts and resources,” said Karen Berard-Reed, community risk reduction strategist at NFPA. “While many fire departments have struggled to work with data sets, NFPA’s CRA tool will do the complex work behind the scenes to compile relevant data allowing stakeholders to create effective community risk reduction plans that incorporate five priorities – education, engineering, enforcement, economic incentives, and emergency response – in the most impactful ways possible.”

The first phase of the pilot project, which included participation from 50 fire departments across the country, helped identify features of the digital dashboard that will work effectively and those that need fine-tuning. During the second phase of the program, which involves participation from 250 departments nationwide, the Columbia-Richland Fire Department, will provide insights around the use of the dashboard through June of 2021 to help continue refining and enhancing its effectiveness.

“Participation in this project allows each fire department to provide important feedback that will be used to improve future versions of the dashboard, positions the community among CRR leaders in the United States, and signals an interest in leveraging technology to drive high-quality community safety initiatives,” said Berard-Reed.

As a participant in the pilot program, CRFD will have free access to the dashboard, which includes customized visualizations (maps, charts, graphs) that illustrate each community’s risks and hazards across a variety of categories such as demographics, geography, building stock, economics, infrastructure, and event loss history. The dashboard also provides a snapshot of local capacity for risk reduction activities with information about public safety response agencies and community service organizations. In addition to dashboard access, participants will be provided rich networking and professional development opportunities with other communities engaged in CRR.

CRFD Volunteer Coordinator William Broscious has been heading the department’s involvement in the program and will continue to oversee activities as the department moves forward.

(From Left: Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins & CRFD Volunteer Coordinator William Broscious)

In addition to highlighting areas of risk, data that is generated by the new software will also be used to help the department pursue grant opportunities that focus on community risk reduction.

In addition to CRFD the other fire departments in South Carolina that were selected for the program are the Bluffton Township Fire District, the Greenville City Fire Department, the Long Branch Fire Department, the North Myrtle Beach Department of Public Safety and the Tyger River Fie Service Area.

For more information on the pilot program visit www.nfpa.org/crr.

 

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Firefighters Respond to House Fire Caused by Plane Crash

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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.

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CRFD Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins Becomes New President of the SC State Association of Fire Chiefs

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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.

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Staff at CRFD Taking COVID Seriously By Getting Vaccinated

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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.”