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Funeral Services TODAY for Late CRFD Battalion Chief Joseph Casey Desso

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The Columbia-Richland Fire Department will join friends, family and our partners in the South Carolina Fire Service today in bidding goodbye to late CRFD Battalion Chief Joseph Casey Desso, who passed away on Monday September 13, 2021 following a brief battle with illness.

Visitation will be held at Riverland Hills Baptist Church in Irmo – 201 Lake Murray Boulevard – beginning at 11 a.m. A funeral service will follow visitation at the church at 1 p.m. and internment will take place at Woodridge Memorial Park in Lexington after the service. The cemetery is located at 138 Corley Mill Road.

Further details and ways to show support for the Desso family can be found here.

CRFD thanks the community for its continued prayers for Chief Desso, his family and our department at this difficult time.

We will never forget you Chief Desso. May you rest in peace.

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CRFD Battalion Chief Joseph Casey Desso Passes Away

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The Columbia-Richland Fire Department is saddened to announce the sudden passing of Battalion Chief Joseph Casey Desso, who died during the night of September 13, 2021 following a brief illness.

Battalion Chief Desso bravely served the citizens of the City of Columbia and Richland County for 24 years. From the beginning of his career as a volunteer firefighter in 1992 he rose through the ranks of CRFD and was promoted to the rank of battalion chief in 2017.

Throughout his career Chief Desso worked to shape firefighters and future leaders of CRFD. As a fire captain in 2016 he was recognized along with the members of his crew for their work rescuing a person that was entrapped in a burning structure.

Chief Desso’s dedication and service to our community will never be forgotten.

A public viewing will be held for Chief Desso on Monday September 20, 2021 beginning at 11 a.m. at

Riverland Hills Baptist Church – 201 Lake Murray Boulevard – Irmo, South Carolina

A funeral service will follow at the church beginning at 1 p.m. Internment will take place after the service at

Woodridge Memorial Park & Funeral Home – 138 Corley Mill Road –Lexington

Our department continues to have resources in place for all members who may need support during this time of great loss. We thank the community for their outreach and sympathies to Chief Desso’s friends, family, colleagues and all who are in mourning.

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Funeral Services Announced for CRFD Fire Chaplain Billie Bright

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The Columbia-Richland Fire Department will join friends, families and our partnering agencies in the South Carolina Fire Service in celebrating the life of CRFD Chaplain Billie Lee Bright II who passed away on Sunday, September 12, 2021 at the age of 46.

Chaplain Bright served CRFD beginning in September of 1998 when he first was hired on as a firefighter. Over the course of 12 years he rose through the ranks to the position of fire captain until his retirement in July of 2010.

After realizing that he still had a desire to serve his community, Bright would later become chaplain for the department and further grow in a support role for his fellow firefighters by providing comfort and counseling to them in their darkest moments.


A public viewing will be held for Chaplain Bright on Thursday, September 16, 2021

from 1 p.m. until 6 p.m. at


Myers Mortuary & Cremation Services at Koon Road

5716 Koon Road

Columbia, South Carolina



A funeral service will follow on Friday, September 17, 2021 at 1 p.m. at


Second Nazareth Baptist Church

2336 Elmwood Avenue

Columbia, South Carolina



Internment will take place following the funeral at


Greenlawn Memorial Gardens

7100 Garners Ferry Road

Columbia, South Carolina


All guests are advised that there will be strict capacity limits inside the church on the day of the funeral.  A live stream of the funeral service will be available.

For further details and ways to show support for the Bright family click here.

Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the close friends and family of Chaplain Bright and all who are in grieving at this time of great loss.

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Mask Mandate Back in Effect for All City of Columbia Public Spaces

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At an emergency meeting of the Columbia City Council on Wednesday, September 8, 2021 city leaders officially voted to re-implement a protective mask ordinance for all public spaces within Columbia city limits.

This ordinance will now require the immediate use of face coverings in bars, restuarants, gorcery stores, pharmacies and other businesses in the City of Columbia. Masking requirements will also be put into effect for students, faculty members and visitors at area schools in the city limits.

For further details on the ordinance follow this link.

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More than a dozen people displaced by 2-Alarm apartment building fire

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On the night of Saturday August 28, 2021 CRFD firefighters responded to a massive apartment building fire at Grove at St. Andrews Apartments off of Zimalcrest Drive.

By the time the first crews arrived on scene flames could be seen coming through a section of the building’s roof. There were also reports that tenants were still inside the building. This prompted responders on scene to call for a 2nd Alarm.

In all roughly 50 members of the department became involved in the operation. The fire was ultimately contained and put out and no one was injured.

At least 14 residents of the apartment complex were left displaced. The cause of the fire is being investigated by the Richland County Fire Marshal’s Office.

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Firefighters Raise School Supplies to Help Families in Need

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As the 2021 school year began, members of the Columbia-Richland Fire Department were busy lending their support to help area families in need obtain school supplies.
Over the course of several weeks in August CRFD members contributed hundreds of dollars worth of school supplies to two ‘back to school’ drives! One was organized by area non-profit PITCH (Positively Influencing the Community with Heart) and the second was put together by leaders in the City of Columbia and Richland County.
Even Sparky the Fire Dog rolled up his sleeves to help area children go back to school!
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City and County Leaders Recognize CRFD for ‘Fire Safe SC’ Designation

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Over the course of the summer CRFD was honored by both the Columbia City Council as well as the Richland County Council in recognition of the department being named a ‘Fire Safe South Carolina’ community for the second year in a row.

Both councils presented the department with honorary proclamations when they convened for meetings in July and August. CRFD Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins and other heads of the department would be in attendance to accept the honors.

The department was one of 80 fire service agencies in South Carolina to be named a 2020 ‘Fire Safe SC’ community. All honorees showed constant work to reduce fire-related injuries by promoting consistent fire-safety messaging.

During the height of the pandemic in 2020 CRFD utilized virtual tools to continue to engage citizens on fire safety and prevention. Over the course of the year the department’s fire prevention staff conducted 21 virtual fire education presentations, 106 virtual home fire safety surveys and more than 2,000 fire inspections.

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CRFD Crews Canvas Communities for National Night Out 2021

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The Columbia-Richland Fire Department was proud to once again support National Night Out festivities across the City of Columbia and Richland County during the month of August.

A majority of neighborhood events were held on the evening of Tuesday August 3, 2021. Other gatherings were postponed until later weeks.

National Night Out is an annual event that started in the 1980s to celebrate ties between first responders and the communities that they serve. Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins and other directors of CRFD were among the department members who made stops at several community gatherings.

Many of these events included free food, live music and other fun activities.

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How to Keep Your Classroom Fire Safe If You’re a Teacher or Educator

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As school faculty members prepare their classrooms and learning spaces for the new academic year, they should be making sure to take fire code requirements into consideration.

The information below is a guide form the CRFD Fire Marshal’s Office for setting up classrooms as well as maintaining a fire safe learning environment in the rest of a school building.

  1. Storage of combustible materials in all school spaces shall be orderly. Flammable materials should be separated from heaters or heating devices.
  2. Items should be stored AT LEAST 2 feet below the ceilings of a room (1.5 feet if sprinklers are present in the room). Shelving units, their contents and other items that are against a wall and not directly below sprinklers may extend up to the ceiling.
  3. Combustible materials, including artwork and teaching materials, shall not be stored in exit areas or on or within 5 feet of any exit door unless approved by the fire authority.
  • Exit doors are those doors that lead directly outside or into a foyer that leads directly outside.
  1. Combustible materials, including artwork and teaching materials, shall not be affixed to, or within 12 inches of, any exit access door unless approved by the fire authority.
  • Exit access doors are those that lead from a room into a corridor.
  1. Clothing and personal effects shall not be stored in corridors and lobbies unless sprinklers and smoke detectors are present. If they are not the items should be stored in metal lockers. Furnishings, decorations or other objects shall not be placed in the way of exits or block their view even if its temporary. The minimum corridor width must always be maintained.
  2. Exit should not be blocked within occupied rooms. An appropriate aisle way width in rooms with less than 50 students shall be 36 inches or the width of the door — whichever is greater.
  3. Artwork and teaching materials should not cover more than 20 percent of any wall in a room or corridor. They should also not be placed excessively in any one area of a corridor. No artwork or materials should be hanging from any fire protection devices.
  4. No highly combustible materials should be used in the school.
  5. Naturally cut trees are prohibited in schools that do not have sprinkler systems. Any artificial vegetation placed in a school building needs to have documentation that shows it complies with NFPA 701. Otherwise it is not allowed.
  6. No door wedges, or similar devices, are allowed to prop open any self-closing doors at any time.
  7. Access to all electrical panels in all areas of the school must be kept clear.
  8. Multi-plug adapters must be plugged into a fixed electrical outlet on the wall. Do not plug them into an extension cord!
  9. Multi-plug cords shall not extend through walls, ceilings, floors OR under doors or floor coverings. They also should be free from any physical damages.
  10. Extension cords should be grounded and used only with one portable appliance.
  11. Extension cords and flexible cords should not be affixed to structures OR extended through walls, ceilings or floors OR under doors or floor coverings. They also should be free from any physical damages.
  12. Extension cords shall be plugged directly into a fixed electrical outlet on a wall or into an approved multi-plug adapter. Extension cords SHOULD NOT be plugged into other extension cords!
  13. Extension cords should be an equal or heavier gauge than the gauge of the portable appliance cord.
  14. If you have rooms that are using multi-plugs and extension cords, it is recommended that you get permanent electrical outlets installed in the room.
  15. Fire drills should be conducted in the school AT LEAST once a month.







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2-Alarm Fire Tears Through Garners Ferry Apartment Complex

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Columbia-Richland firefighters did an excellent job stopping a 2-Alarm fire that broke out at an apartment building in Richland County on Sunday, July 11.

Crews responded to the Austin Wood Apartments off of Garners Ferry Road shortly before 5 p.m. Minutes after arriving on scene firefighters would call for a 2nd Alarm as flames were quickly spreading through one of the 3-story apartment buildings on the property.

All occupants made it out of the building safely and there were no injuries. Several units however suffered extensive fire damages.

The fire was eventually contained and extinguished. The Richland County Fire Marshal’s Office is currently investigating what caused it.