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Isaias Expected to Bring Heavy Rainfall and High Winds to Parts of Midlands August 3 & 4

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The Columbia-Richland Fire Department wants to remind area residents to take caution on area roadways in the wake of Tropical Storm Isaias.

The National Weather Service said on Monday that the storm could regain hurricane strength before it reaches the northeastern coast of South Carolina. In the Midlands locally heavy rain and strong winds are expected during the day on Monday August 3 and into parts of Tuesday August 4. Heavy rainfall with amounts of generally 2 to 3 inches with locally higher totals is expected with the main threat in the eastern Midlands and Pee Dee. Flash flooding of mainly low-lying and poor drainage areas is likely. 

Currently a flash flood watch is in effect for Monday morning August 3 through Tuesday afternoon August 4 for Orangeburg, Clarendon, Lee, Sumter and Chesterfield counties. A Tropical Storm warning is also in effect for eastern Orangeburg and Clarendon counties. That includes Lake Marion.

If you must travel during the storm use added caution & watch for flooded roadways!

For the latest details surrounding Isaias and more tips to prepare visit www.scemd.org

 

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6 People Displaced Following 2-Alarm Fire at Hillandale Apartments

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A 2-Alarm fire on Monday July 27, 2020 ripped through an apartment building off of Alcott Drive near Fairfield Road.

All occupants of the building managed to escape safely. By the time firefighters arrived on scene there was heavy fire coming out of the front door of the building as well as heavy smoke. The first units on scene would call for a 2nd Alarm not long after they arrived.

Roughly 50 CRFD personnel were involved in the operation. The Red Cross was contacted to assist six tenants that were left displaced by the fire. Roughly half of the units in the building were left damaged.

The Richland County Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating what caused the fire. 

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27 New Firefighters Sworn Into Service After Graduating from CRFD Recruit School

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Columbia Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins officially confirmed 27 new firefighters for the department as members of the 2020-01 CRFD Recruit Class graduated on the morning of July 24, 2020.

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. Due to the pandemic outside guests were not able to attend the graduation.

“I’m proud of each and every recruit class that has come through our department but what these men and women have done is highly commendable,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “During this unprecedented time they answered the call to serve as protectors of our city and county. Not only have they had to face intense training and the rising temperatures that come with each summer but also the added threat brought on by this virus.”

“I am highly proud of their accomplishments as well as our department’s training staff for facilitating this recruit school during what has been a most difficult period,” Jenkins added.

All members of class 20-01 will report to work beginning this Saturday July 25, 2020.

 

The department would like to congratulate the members of Recruit Class 2020-01

 

Alexandre Ambroise 

Michela Brummerloh 

Jacob Burgess 

Caleb Chasteen 

Bryson Curran 

Julianne Davis 

Travis Diaz 

Robert E. Ford Jr. 

Chame’o Frierson 

Clayton Fripp 

Gary Gardner Jr. 

Leah Gardner 

Harold Goethe III 

Brennan Laffoday 

Laurie Lloyd 

Michael Louis 

Kevin O’Brien 

James Olson 

Franklyn Owen IV 

Aerielle Robinson 

James Rogers 

Dennis Siudut 

Telvin Smith 

Jacob Springsteen 

John Terry III 

David Vega 

Terrell Washington Jr.

The department also presented several awards during the ceremony including the Maltese Cross Award and the Bryan P. Roberts Award. Recruit Clayton Fripp would take home the Maltese Cross while Recruit Kevin O’Brien would earn the Bryan P. Roberts award.

The Jack. H. Veal Top Instructor Award for this recruit class would go to Fire Captain Chad Alexander.

 

Maltese Cross Award

The Maltese Cross is a symbol of protection. It means that the firefighter who wears this cross is willing to lay down his or her life…. just as the Crusaders sacrificed their lives for their fellow man so many years ago. The Maltese Cross is a firefighter’s badge of honor, signifying that he or she works in courage, pride and honor.

Columbia-Richland Fire Rescue established this award to be presented to the top recruit as voted on by the class and instructors.

 

Bryan P. Roberts Award

In 2007, Bryan was hired to be part of the CFD Recruit Class 07-01. Unfortunately, Bryan passed away while at home, prior to the completion of recruit school. His fellow classmates dedicated the remaining portion of the recruit program to his honor. In Bryan’s honor and memory, the Columbia Fire Department set-up the Bryan P. Roberts Award in 2007. This award is to be presented to the recruit that has maintained the highest grade point average in each recruit school.

 

 

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Columbia-Richland Fire Department Named a 2019 Fire Safe South Carolina Community

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CRFD recently received the exciting news that is being recognized as one of 57 Fire Safe communities in the state of South Carolina for the year 2019.

This comes following another year where the department invested efforts in Community Risk Reduction (CRR) programs focused on reducing the risk of fires and other emergencies in area neighborhoods. These programs included fire safety education presentations and free smoke alarms installations for residents in need.

“I continue to be GREATLY impressed with the work of our staff each and every day not only putting out fires but taking steps to prevent them,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “This recognition by Fire Safe South Carolina is a true affirmation of the passion our members have for keeping citizens safe. I join in congratulating the staff at our department and the other fire departments recognized on a job well done.”

Fire Safe South Carolina (FSSC) has actively worked with local fire departments to develop community risk reduction (CRR) plans for their jurisdictions since its launch in June 2017. With the help of local fire departments FSSC has worked to reduce fire-related injuries, promote consistent messaging, improve data quality, and provide valuable resources.

“Outreach has been tremendous,” State Fire’s CRR Chief Josh Fulbright said. “Departments reported more than 1,500 CRR events, educating more than 250,000 citizens. We congratulate designees, to whom alarm resources are available, and are providing each a custom Fire Safe SC Community sign denoting their success.”

Fire Safe SC’s organizational partners include the S.C. State Firefighters’ Association, the S.C. State Association of Fire Chiefs, and the S.C. Fire Marshal Association. 

As part of its work in community risk reduction, over the course of 2019 CRFD conducted 71 fire education presentations, hosted 42 tours of fire stations and installed more than 1,200 free smoke alarms for area residents. These activities and more reached well over 14,000 people.

 

 

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Citizens Encouraged to Recreate Safely During July 4th Holiday

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With the threat of COVID-19 still strong across the state of South Carolina, many residents will be turning to the July 4th weekend for fun and some feeling of normalcy this year.

However, the fire department once again wants to remind residents that any holiday celebration can be ruined if safety guidelines are ignored. This is especially the case during the Independence Day holiday when many citizens are expected to use consumer fireworks.

“We want everyone to have fun and enjoy the holiday with their close family and loved ones,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “If using fireworks is part of your recipe for a great party feel free to use them. At the same time we ask everyone to realize that there is responsibility that comes with each firework you set off. It doesn’t matter how small your get together is the event could be ruined if fireworks are handled in an unsafe manner.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association fireworks started an estimated 19,500 fires over the course of 2018. During that same year 9,100 people were treated for fireworks-related injuries in U.S. hospital emergency rooms.

CRFD is encouraging everyone to put safety first when using any fireworks by following these safety tips. 

  • Attend a professional show instead of holding your own.
  • Always read and follow directions on each firework.
  • Only use fireworks outdoors, away from homes, dry grass, and trees.
  • Keep a bucket of water, a fire extinguisher or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Always have an adult present when shooting fireworks.
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place.
  • Never re-ignite malfunctioning fireworks.
  • Wear protective eye glasses and gloves.
  • Never hold a lit firework item in your hand.
  • Adults should always handle fireworks and not children.

 

Also, if your plans for the July 4th holiday include a cookout, please keep these tips in mind for outdoor grilling:

  • Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.
  • The grill should be placed at least 10 feet away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill area.
  • Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
  • Never leave your grill unattended.
  • Always make sure your gas grill lid is open before lighting it.

 

For charcoal grills:

 

  • There are several ways to get the charcoal ready to use. Charcoal chimney starters allow you to start the charcoal using newspaper as a fuel.
  • If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire
  • Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.
  • There are also electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire. Be sure to use an extension cord for outdoor use.

When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.

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Emergency Ordinance Requiring Masks to Take Effect in Columbia on June 26

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In light of the ongoing rise in cases of COVID-19 across South Carolina, the City of Columbia will now be requiring all residents and visitors to wear protective masks in public places within the city.

This emergency ordinance was enacted by members of the Columbia City Council and will take effect on Friday June 26, 2020. The goal is to require mask usage to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

According to the ordinance all persons entering a commercial establishment in the city must wear a face covering while inside the establishment. The new rule does not apply to religious establishments but the use of face coverings is recommended during religious activities as well. 

Furthermore, all restaurants, retail stores, salons, grocery stores, and pharmacies in the city must require their employees to wear a face covering at all times while having face to face interaction with the public.

The new ordinance WILL NOT require masks to be used:

a. In personal vehicles;
b. When a person is alone in enclosed spaces; during outdoor physical activity, provided the active
person maintains a minimum of six (6) feet from other people at all times;
c. When a person is alone or only with other household members;
d. While drinking, eating or smoking;
e. When wearing a face covering causes or aggravates a health condition.
f. When wearing a face covering would prevent the receipt of personal services.
g. When a person is 10 years of age or younger.

Any person who is unable to safely wear a face covering due to age, an underlying health condition, or is unable to remove the face covering without the assistance of others is also exempt from the mask requirement.

Those who do not wear a mask while in a public space will be guilty of a civil infraction and could be fined up to $25.00. Businesses owners who do not provide and require their employees to wear masks could be fined up to $100 per day.

For further details on the new ordinance requiring masks click here.

For information on the proper way to wear a mask click here

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How to Safely Create A Fire Pit for Your Home

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The summer season may make a fire pit sound ideal for your property, but before you set to work on one here is some important information to keep handy:

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON FIRE PITS

  • What type of bricks should I use?
  • Kiln Bricks, also referred to as Fire Bricks or Refractory Bricks, are made from ceramic refractory material that can withstand extremely high temperatures, such as those achieved in kiln firings. These bricks typically line the inside of a kiln (furnace, fireplace, etc.) and serve as great insulators, making heat loss minimal and energy use efficient. Kiln bricks are available in different shapes and sizes, and come in either soft or hard material. 

 

  • What are the types of fire pits?
  • fire pit or a fire hole can vary from a pit dug in the ground to an elaborate gas burning structure of stone, brick, and metal. The common feature of fire pits is that they are designed to contain fire and prevent it from spreading. Fire pits come in numerous alterations but they can generally be grouped into four categories depending on the kind of fuel each pit uses. There are gel fuel, wood burning, propane, and natural gas fire pits. 

 

  • How far do recreational fires have to be from a building/structure?
  • Recreational fires shall not be conducted within 25 feet of a structure or combustible material. Conditions that could cause a fire to spread within 25 feet (7620 mm) of a structure shall be eliminated prior to ignition.

 

  • What additional safety measures are needed to operate a fire pit?
  • Open burning, bonfires, recreational fires and use of portable outdoor fireplaces shall be constantly attended until the fire is extinguished. Keep an approved fire extinguisher, dirt, sand, water barrel, garden hose or water truck nearby if it becomes necessary to put the fire out.

 

  • What if I wanted to use a portable outdoor fireplace?
  • You should use a portable outdoor fireplace in accordance with the manufacturers instructions. Do not operate a potable fireplace within 15 feet of a structure or combustible material.

 

ADDITIONAL FIRE PIT SAFETY ADVICE

  • Take into account the prevailing wind direction before building your fire pit and place it in a place that will reduce the impact of smoke on your home as well as your neighbor’s home.
  • Place your fire pit away from high traffic areas and walkways.
  • Space surrounding chairs or benches in such a way that guests do not have to squeeze past the fire pit to reach these.
  • Portable fire pits are available in a variety of styles and materials. Ensure that the portable pit is well built and provides a safe, stable base for a fire. If your fire pit is made from materials, such as clay or metal, be aware that they can get very hot during operation and retain heat long after the flames have gone out so be careful!
  • With in-ground fire pits – even when not in use – there is the possibility of someone accidentally falling in! To reduce this risk use a lid when the pit is unlit. When in use, be extra vigilant!
  • Use a poker, log grabber or shovel when rearranging burning logs.
  • Bigger is not always better! This is a common mistake people make when size is not restricted by regulations. A fire pit should be large enough for your guests to gather around but still be able to maintain a conversation and feel the warmth from the flames. If a fire pit is too big it can become difficult to rearrange or add logs without compromising your safety! Also, finding a safety screen to fit the pit can become an issue and roasting marshmallows can become a lot harder – if not impossible – especially for children.
  • Loose fitting clothes, especially sleeves, are a hazard when tending the fire. Keep them as well as your hair out of the way of the flames!
  • Do not put more wood into the fire than you are likely to burn. Letting the fire burn down completely will make it easier to fully extinguish. Be aware that embers can remain a fire hazard for days if not thoroughly dealt with, so double check before leaving the fire pit that there is no residual heat. Do not bury or cover the embers with dirt as they may continue to smolder and eventually reignite under certain conditions. Please note that using water to douse the flames may damage fire pits if they are made from materials such as metal or clay. Always replace the screen of the fire pit – even when you think the fire is completely out – just to be on the safe side. Lastly, when removing the ashes from the pit use a metal bucket or container and dispose them safely!!
  • Do not use porous rocks, river rocks or wet rocks in your fire pit. If exposed to intense heat, pressure can build up within the rock due to the expanding water molecules, causing the rock to explode.
  • Be aware that alcohol consumption and fire pits accidents go hand in hand. Adults that have over indulged in alcohol may require as much supervision as the kids around a fire pit.

 

SUGGESTED ADVICE FOR CHILD SAFETY

  • Establish a 3 foot “ kid-free zone” around your fire pit.
  • Children should not be allowed to run, roughhouse, play games or do any other fast-moving activities around the fire pit. Set up a play area away from the fire pit where they can have fun.
  • When the kids do join you at the fire pit make sure there is plenty of seating for them. Do not allow them to wander around! They should be encouraged to enjoy the benefits of the fire pit in a relaxed and calm manner.
  • Never leave children unsupervised! There should be a responsible adult present at all times keeping a close eye on them if you have a fire pit going.
  • Closely supervise children while they toast marshmallows. Younger ones are best sat on your lap and secured between your knees. Remember that marshmallows can cause burns if they get too hot and flaming marshmallows can be a fire hazard.
  • Do not leave matches or lighters in a place where children may get hold of them!
  • Do not allow children to play with the fire or logs!
  • If you are still worried about the children being able to get too close to the fire, install a child safety fence or barrier around the fire pit. It need not interfere with your enjoyment of the fire pit as you only need to place it far enough away and just high enough to prevent children from having direct contact with the pit.

 

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Columbia Enacts State of Emergency Following Afternoon of Protests

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Following demonstrations that turned violent in the City of Columbia on Saturday May 30, 2020, city leaders passed an emergency ordinance declaring a curfew for the downtown area. The curfew will apply within the boundaries of Sumter Street, Huger Street, Elmwood Avenue and Pendleton Street until Monday morning June 1, 2020 at 6:00 a.m.

Residents are being asked to return home during the time frame of the curfew and to not assemble in common areas such as streets, parks and other public areas.

Full details of the ordinance can be found below:

ORDINANCE NO.: 2020-052
Declaring a State of Emergency and Enacting an Emergency Curfew

WHEREAS, by Ordinance No.: 2020-037 enacted on April 9, 2020, the Mayor and City Council imposed a curfew beginning on Friday, April 10, 2020 restricting travel and gatherings from 11:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. with the exception of persons traveling to and from work and for healthcare, which ordinance would automatically expire on the 61st day after enactment; and,

WHEREAS, on May 25, 2020, George Floyd died while in custody of the Minneapolis Police Department. Since Mr. Floyd’s death, many have expressed their frustration in a peaceful and constructive manner. Demonstrators have gathered to protest Mr. Floyd’s death. While peaceful demonstrations are essential to our democratic system, some individuals have engaged in unlawful and dangerous activity. These activities threaten the safety of lawful demonstrators, the surrounding communities, and first responders; and,

WHEREAS, events of Saturday, May 30, 2020 have resulted in property and personal damage and unlawful conduct; and,

WHEREAS, City Council finds that it is in the best interest of the public to protect public health and the general welfare of the public to enact a state of emergency and to extend the temporary curfew immediately rather than suffer the unfortunate and devastating consequences later; NOW, THEREFORE,

BE ORDAINED by the Mayor and City Council of the City of Columbia, South Carolina this 30th day of May, 2020 that a state of emergency is hereby enacted and effective immediately within the boundaries of Sumter Street, Pendleton Street, Huger Street and Elmwood Avenue requiring all individuals to return to their residences and remain off of all common areas, including but not limited to streets, parks, rights of way and other public spaces effective at 6:00 p.m. Saturday, May 30, 2020 until 6:00 a.m., Monday, June 1, 2020; and,

BE IT FURTHER ORDAINED that the curfew restricting travel shall not apply to persons traveling to and from work and for healthcare; and,

BE IT FURTHER ORDAINED that during the curfew, the following persons are exempted and free to travel to carry out their duties: police officers, firefighters, active duty military, health care providers, essential government personnel, 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.

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Community Project Helping FD Maintain Mask Supply During COVID-19 Pandemic

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As cases of COVID-19 continue to spread across the state of South Carolina and the nation, one critical goal on the minds of first responders is maintaining proper supplies of protective equipment.

While the Columbia-Richland Fire Department continues to have supplies of masks, gloves and other items to protect firefighters in stock – department leaders have been carefully looking at one way to maximize the life of these products. That research and collaboration has now led to the department acquiring multiple devices that can decontaminate medical response equipment using ultraviolet light.

A demonstration of the equipment was conducted at CRFD Station 3 on Thursday April 30, 2020. 

“It really is a fascinating way to ensure that each mask is used for as long as it safely can be,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “Going forward we’re going to look at every opportunity to save a mask using ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI). I applaud our community partners who have worked tirelessly to develop these devices to help keep our firefighters safe in the line of duty.”

Several past studies and scientific research have shown that types of ultraviolet radiation have the power to inactivate a wide range of human pathogens, including coronavirus and other human respiratory viruses. Similar projects aimed at using UVGI to decontaminate items have been launched by fire departments and public safety agencies across the country.

The Columbia-Richland Fire Department’s UVGI devices were developed and tested by a small group of private citizens led by physical therapist Rich Wachtel and Chris Yenkey, a professor of International Business at the University of South Carolina. Readings of ultraviolet radiation on the machines were verified by faculty from the Electrical Engineering Department’s Photonics and Microelectronics Laboratory at USC using specialized equipment. University staff also assisted CRFD in developing protocols for use of the devices. Officials with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC) also provided consultation.

Resembling a small cabinet, each UVGI devices is outfitted with lights capable of producing UV-C radiation. Over the course of several days the fire department developed guidelines for staff to turn in masks for decontamination. 

After being suspended in the UVGI machines on a rack and exposed to the lights for a period of several minutes, the masks are then considered clean and can be sent back to their individual staff members for continued use. Three machines have been outfitted in a trailer to facilitate the decontamination process. Over a period of a few hours hundreds of masks can be decontaminated using the system.

This process will only be used for masks that HAVE NOT been directly contacted by discharges of a possible COVID-19 patient. Those masks will be discarded and immediately replaced. All fire department personnel are also wearing face shields while on medical calls to add an extra layer of protection and reduce the chance of COVID-19 exposure.

The Columbia-Richland Fire Department extends its deepest thanks to its partners at the University of South Carolina, SC DHEC and the community at large for their work on this project.

For more information on the UV devices and the collaboration that has gone into their development, click here.

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Cub Scout Pack Virtually Visits Fire Department

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On  Sunday April 26 members of Cub Scout Pack 287 got a real treat as they were able to virtually visit CRFD Headquarters on Laurel Street.

Fire Education Officer Bengie Leverett conducted the tour, which included a look at the department’s fire museum and truck bay.

The Fire Education Office is offering free tours of our fire stations to groups. To schedule one you can contact Officer Leverett by sending an email to bengie.leverett@columbiasc.gov