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14 Members of CRFD Earn Promotions to New Ranks

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In the fall months of 2021 the Columbia-Richland Fire Department would recognize 14 of its members for reaching new milestones in their fire service careers.

CRFD Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins promoted two members to the rank of battalion chief. Two new fire captains and 10 new senior firefighters were also officially badged by Chief Jenkins during a series of promotional ceremonies at CRFD Headquarters.

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

 

Promoted to Senior Firefighter

Jared Chew                                      Dante Thompson

Daniel Hathaway                             Antonio S. Williams

Andrew McClaine III                      Davon Wilson

David Palevich

Nicholas Palevich

Chun Pan

Joseph Pou

Promoted to Fire Captain

Jonathan Dinkins                            Lawrence Suber Jr.

Promoted to Battalion Chief

Steven Fields                                   Matthew Huffstetler

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Use Caution in the Kitchen to Avoid Cooking-Related Fires This Thanksgiving

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With larger holiday get togethers seeing a return this year, staff at the Columbia-Richland Fire Department want to urge citizens to pay CAREFUL attention while preparing their Thanksgiving Day meals for family and friends.

“Preparing a large dinner always comes with added stress,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “The important thing to remember is to never compromise your safety or the safety of others in order to get a meal prepared faster. If you plan to deep fry a turkey be sure to give it time to COMPLETELY defrost. NEVER leave food cooking on the stove unattended and also be sure to allow enough time to properly cook your favorite holiday recipes. Not following these directions can put you at a greater risk for having a cooking fire or other holiday mishap.”

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. (Source: NFPA)

 

Finally…USE EXTREME CAUTION IF YOU PLAN TO DEEP FRY YOUR TURKEY

 

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!

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Seasonal Drop in Temperatures Will Bring Added Risk for Home Heating Fires

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With the winter season drawing closer and nightly temperatures dropping staff at the Columbia-Richland Fire Department want to remind citizens to use the utmost caution before firing up home heating sources. This includes space heaters and fire places.

“Properly heating your home or office is essential during colder weather but it shouldn’t come at the price of safety,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “All too often fires caused by space heaters and heating equipment can destroy properties and forever change lives. This is why it’s so important to have heating equipment checked before its put into use for the winter season and NEVER leave space heaters running while unattended.”

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.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.
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CRFD Engine 11 Crew Honored for Delivering Baby Girl

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On Tuesday October 26, 2021 four firefighters with the Columbia-Richland Fire Department were recognized for the quick and decisive action they took to safely bring a baby into the world in early October.

Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins presented the crew of Engine 11-1st Shift with the department’s Stork Award during a brief ceremony at CRFD Headquarters on Tuesday, October 26, 2021. Among guests in attendance at the ceremony was the Dempsey family of Columbia.

On Friday October 8, 2021 firefighters on Engine 11 responded to the Dempsey home after getting reports from 9-1-1 that a woman was in labor. The crew arrived on scene and delivered the baby girl, who came in weighing 7 pounds, 8 ounces.

Michael Dempsey and his wife Katelyn would name their new daughter Ellie. She was also in attendance as Engine 11 was formally recognized for their work.

“This crew did a fantastic job in carrying out their duties on this call,” Chief Jenkins said, “They had just cleared from another medical call on October 8 when they were asked to respond to this critical scene at the Dempsey home. Seeing this newborn child doing so well is a true testament to their work that day. Our entire department applauds them.”

Congratulations to the members of CRFD Engine 11 – 1st Shift.

 

          Fire Captain David Cooper                                         Engineer Devon Ash

 

             Firefighter Shannon Peters                                   Firefighter David Palevich

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First Responders Receive CRFD Phoenix Award for Lifesaving Work

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During the month of October 2021 the Columbia-Richland Fire Department was honored to recognize 12 of our members and three members of Richland County EMS with the CRFD Phoenix Award.

                Phoenix Award Presentations at CRFD Headquarters

The Phoenix Award is presented to individuals who made critical judgments and actions in efforts to preserve life in severely ill or injured patients on the scene of an emergency.

On Tuesday, October 19 CRFD Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins recognized the members of Engine 6-3rd Shift with the award. During a medical call that happened in September, Engine 6 worked with members of Richland County EMS to deliver lifesaving CPR care to a 17-year-old.

Honored on October 19 with the CRFD Phoenix Award were Fire Captain Christopher Cotton, Engineer Cody Dominick and Firefighter Len Stokes Jr. Richland County EMS Corporal Theresa Douglass, EMT Nathan Miller and Lieutenant Andrew Fowler were also recognized with the award.

Days later on Monday October 25 the department recognized nine more CRFD members with the Phoenix Award. This was for their work to preserve two lives on the scene of a house fire in early 2021.

Honored on October 25 were Senior Firefighter Travis Wiggins, Engineer Layne Dowey, Engineer Justin Epps, Engineer Kenneth Foster, Engineer Arthur Mitchell, Fire Captain Cleo Jackson, Volunteer Fire Captain Michael Deal, Volunteer Firefighter Booker Moore and former CRFD Volunteer Firefighter Ryan Doerzbacher.

Our department congratulates all these individuals on their outstanding work!

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CRFD Seeking Skilled Men & Women to Serve as Firefighters

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The Columbia-Richland Fire Department is continuing to seek qualified applicants for firefighting positions.

Those who apply can now take advantage of two tracks to begin service as a firefighter. Through CRFD’s new Bridge Program, candidates who hold a Firefighter II certification will be able to attend an abridged training academy. This could allow them to start work running calls with the department in 6 weeks or less.

Last year alone CRFD firefighters answered close to 32,000 calls for service – responding to structure fires, HAZMAT incidents, motor vehicle accidents, swiftwater rescues and other emergencies.

Applicants who are new to the fire service and do not possess a Firefighter II certification will still be able to apply for CRFD’s Standard Recruit Training Program, which includes 18 weeks of academy training.

All firefighters who serve with the department start out with a base salary of $33,336 annually but this does not include overtime!! There are also higher pay incentives for firefighters who earn added certifications (EMT, HAZMAT Rescue Technician) or obtain an Associates, Bachelors or Master’s degree.

Other benefits of being a firefighter with CRFD include:

  • Low cost healthcare for employees and their families under SC PEBA (group health, group dental and group eye insurance plans)
  • Paid holidays and vacation time
  • Entry in the SC PEBA State Retirement Program
  • Opportunities to enroll in the SC Deferred Compensation Program (401K/ 457)
  • FREE annual gym membership and access to city gym
  • Automatic enrollment and access to benefits with the SC State Firefighter’s Association
  • Paid class time
  • Flexible spending accounts
  • And much more!!

Those interested in applying for a firefighting position should visit the City of Columbia’s career portal.

CRFD Pay Scale

 (upon completion of recruit schools)

Firefighter Annual Earnings
High School Diploma $33,336.00
Associates Degree $33,836.04
Bachelor’s Degree $34,836.12
Master’s Degree $35,586.18
CRFD Incentive Pay Scale

(upon completion of recruit schools)

*Number of Positions is Based on Funding
EMT $2,600 per year
HAZMAT or Rescue Technician $2,600 per year
HAZMAT or Rescue Support $1,300 per year

Prospective applicants with questions are encouraged to contact CRFD Recruiting Officer Captain James Bostic by calling 803-545-3331 or sending an email to james.bostic@columbiasc.gov

All Bridge Program applicants will have to demonstrate capabilities in Basic Firefighting Skills. Links to demonstration videos for those skills are below:

Forcible Entry

Ground Ladder

Hose Management

SERVE YOUR COMMUNITY!!

APPLY TO BE A FIREFIGHTER TODAY!!!

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One person injured after small plane crashes at Hamilton-Owens Airport

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On Thursday October 21, 2021 CRFD 2nd Shift crews responded to Jim Hamilton – LB Owens Airport after a glider aircraft went down at the airfield.

Units responded shortly after 11:30 a.m. One person was onboard the glider as it was a single seat aircraft. The crash happened as the glider was coming in for a landing at the airfield.
Firefighters assisted EMS in preparing the patient for transport to the hospital.
The patient was taken from the scene by EMS and the crash scene has been turned over to the Federal Aviation Administration.
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2-Alarm Fire Rips Through Vacant Apartment Buildings

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On the early morning of Monday October 18, 2021 CRFD crews responded to a 2-Alarm fire on the 1900 block of Barnwell Street in Columbia.

1st Shift crews were dispatched to the scene shortly before 12:30 a.m. and arrived to find a two-story apartment building that was heavily involved with fire.

The fire was also spreading to the home next door and this prompted crews to call for a 2nd Alarm. The bulk of the fire in the first building was in the front side and the flames were extending over the roof line and into the attic space. Both properties were vacant and had no occupants.

The fire was ultimately put out and no one was injured.

The cause of the fire is being investigated by the CRFD Fire Marshal’s Office.

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CRFD Releases Statement Concerning Staffing Levels at Department Stations

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The following statement was released by the Columbia-Richland Fire Department and Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins on Tuesday October 12, 2021 concerning the current state of staffing levels at the fire department.

 

Greetings,

Recently, there have been several social media posts and articles in the media that we feel do not accurately depict the Columbia-Richland Fire Department (CRFD).

Firstly, the CRFD remains politically neutral and does not officially support any candidate running for political office. We are here to fairly and equally serve each and every citizen and stakeholder that we are entrusted to protect.

Secondly, our department wants to provide accurate and detailed information concerning our staffing levels so that our community members can have a clear and concise understanding of the state of their fire department.  We want to eliminate misinformation.

The CRFD’s operational staff is organized into three shifts that operate on a 24 on and 48 off hour schedule.  Employees work one day on duty and then they have two days off.  Fire apparatus (our firetrucks) are generally each staffed daily with four personnel consisting of a company officer, a driver, and two firefighters.

CRFD strives to staff all of our operational units to consistently fulfill this standard. This means that if a regularly staffed position is left vacant on a shift (typically due to sick leave use or other permissive leave), another employee is called in to fill that spot.  On days when the department is critically short-staffed and there are not enough available employees to fill vacant positions, the department has sometimes been forced to temporarily staff some fire apparatus with three employees.

In addition to this, because of a recent increase in use of sick leave the department has had to occasionally take some fire apparatus out of service in order to maintain the department’s overall operational readiness and coverage of both the City of Columbia as well as Richland County. This often occurs at fire stations that house two firetrucks. One of the trucks may be taken out of service on days where staffing levels are even lower than usual.  However, there has NEVER been a time where we have taken a full fire house out of service due to staffing issues.

Even when we are short-staffed, CRFD strives to ensure that our operational effectiveness and safety for our firefighters is not compromised.  Furthermore, our department empowers our officers to make safe tactical decisions and to always call for additional resources to accomplish their mission on a fire or other emergency.

Currently, we have a total of 454 budgeted positions for operational personnel, and have 28 vacancies among these positions at various ranks.  94% of our full-time positions are presently staffed.  This does not include approximately 100 volunteer firefighters who supplement our department in Richland County.

Without a doubt the COVID-19 pandemic has caused unique challenges for all of us.  Like many industries around the country, our department has been forced to make adjustments on a daily basis because of this global challenge and other influences on our personnel.   In the face of such effects, many companies across our nation have had to close their doors and turn customers away.

This is not an option for the fire department, and our leaders are working hard every day to not let a single member of our community down.

Our members continue to stand true to CRFD’s mission statement of saving lives and protecting property through community risk reduction and emergency professional response to the communities that we serve.  Our priorities continue to include the protection of our employees, their health and safety as well as the recruitment and retention of quality firefighters who uphold the department’s mission and values to safeguard our community.

When the public needs us we have always been ready and will continue to be so.

 

                                                                           Aubrey D. Jenkins

                                                                                                                    Columbia-Richland Fire Chief

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CRFD Encouraging Residents to ‘Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety’

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With National Fire Prevention Week 2021 just days away, NOW is the time for area residents to learn the varying sounds that can come from smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms.

The theme for this year’s Fire Prevention Week Campaign is ‘Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety,’ as recognizing the sounds coming from an alarm can mean life or death in the event of a property fire or CO leak. Among the sounds that residents should know is the one that comes when an alarm needs a new battery (a chirping sound).

 

“Every citizen needs to invest the time to know these noises,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “Too often in cases of fatal fires properties involved either don’t have any smoke alarms at all or the alarms present may not have been working properly. Taking the time to obtain smoke alarms and test them frequently can go a long way in protecting your life and the lives of those you care about.”

According to recent studies from the National Fire Protection Association almost three out of every five home fire deaths occurred in homes with no smoke alarms (41%) or smoke alarms that failed to operate (16%). Furthermore, the same studies showed that when working smoke alarms are present an individual is 50% less likely to die in a property fire.

Here are some key points to remember when it comes to smoke and CO alarms in your home or business:

  • When an alarm sounds, respond IMMEDIATELY by exiting the property as quickly as possible.
  • If your alarm begins to chirp, it may mean that the batteries are running low and need to be replaced. If the alarm continues to chirp after the batteries are replaced — or the alarm is more than 10 years old — it is time to replace the alarm.
  • Test all smoke and CO alarms monthly! Press the test button to make sure the alarm is working.
  • If there is someone in your household who is deaf or hard of hearing, install a bed shaker and strobe light alarms that will alert that person to fire.

For more information on National Fire Prevention Week 2021 visit the NFPA’s website.