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CRFD Reminds Residents to ‘Mask Up’ While Celebrating Halloween

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The threat of COVID-19 this Halloween will mean more safeguards for area residents to keep in mind while celebrating tricks and treats. In addition to practicing fire safety the Columbia-Richland Fire Department also wants area residents to take steps during their Halloween celebrations to stay protected from the virus.

“Make no mistake about it many months have passed but the dangers of COVID-19 are still out there,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “For that reason we are STRONGLY encouraging all citizens to obey the protective mask ordinances that remain in place for the City of Columbia as well as Richland County. We also want to encourage our citizens to celebrate Halloween in ways that will not foster the spread of this deadly virus.”

Due to COVID-19 the City of Columbia is encouraging citizens to avoid large gatherings and also take added safety precautions:

  • Avoid large gatherings, festivals and door-to-door trick or treating as it can become difficult to maintain proper social distancing and ensure proper mask usage from all participants
  • If you do decide to celebrate make sure to follow proper COVID-19 precautions!
    • According to South Carolina DHEC drive-through events, one directional haunted tails, outdoor pumpkin patches and creative methods for handing out candy can be safe alternatives for celebrating!
    • If you do trick-or-treat, wear a protective mask and stay at least 6 feet away from others
    • ONLY use pre-packaged candy!
    • Don’t use a costume mask as a substitute for a cloth mask unless it’s made of at least two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers your mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around your face.
    • DO NOT wear a protective mask and a costume mask as this can make it difficult to breathe
  • For further information on Halloween during the COVID-19 Pandemic visit!

Also here are some fire safety precautions to keep in mind:

  • When choosing a costume, stay away from long trailing fabric. If your child is wearing a mask, make sure the eye holes 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 candle snuffer 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 candle holders that are sturdy, and won’t tip over easily.
    • Put candle holders 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 2020 Halloween!

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Firefighters Want You to ‘Serve Up Safety’ for Fire Prevention Week 2020

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The Columbia-Richland Fire Department will be joining agencies throughout the U.S. in asking citizens to be more attentive and alert in their kitchens as National Fire Prevention Week 2020 kicks off the week of October 4, 2020.
The theme for this year’s prevention week (October 4-October 10) is ‘Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen’ – highlighting the risk of home fires that can happen while cooking.

“This theme REALLY is important in light of the situation we find ourselves in due to the pandemic,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey. D. Jenkins, “With many people spending more time at home and cooking more meals at home there comes a greater risk of something going wrong in the kitchen. This unfortunately can sometimes lead to major injuries and extensive property damage if a fire breaks out.”

Each year cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home fire injuries according to the National Fire Prevention Association. In a majority of cases accidents while frying food caused major cooking fires.
To keep you and your family safe and protect your property from the threat of fire — we encourage you to follow these guidelines:

  • Have an adult or responsible person cook for children while you are away from home. This could by a babysitter, older sibling, neighbor, etc.
  • To prevent children from cooking, have prepared meals at home for them during this time.
  • Whenever possible, have your child use a microwave to heat food rather than use the stove.
  • KEEP aluminum foil out of the microwave and plastics out of the oven.
  • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food.

  • Leave a safety area of at least 3 feet around the stove while hot items are being prepared. This will help prevent young children from suffering burns.
  • Make sure kids stay away from hot food and liquids.
  • Keep a Class A-B-C Dry Chemical Fire Extinguisher close to your stove in the event you have a grease fire.
  • IF A GREASE FIRE BREAKS OUT DO NOT USE WATER TO EXTINGUISH 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.
  • Make sure you have working smoke alarms and CO alarm(s) in your home.
  • Have an escape plan for your home and practice it with your family.

Stay safe in the kitchen everyone!

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Tropical Storm Sally Likely to Bring Heavy Rains to Midlands

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On Wednesday September 16, 2020 the National Weather Service in Columbia began issuing advisories for the Central Midlands ahead of Tropical Storm Sally.

Remnants of the storm are expected to bring periods of heavy rain to our service area on Thursday September 17 and into Friday September 18. A flash flood watch is currently in place for all of Richland County on Thursday and in all the storm could produce up to 6 inches of rainfall in the Columbia area as it moves through. There is also the possibility that the storm could produce short-lived tornadoes in some areas.

The Columbia-Richland Fire Department is advising all citizens to exercise added caution on area roads both Thursday and Friday and watch out for potential flash flooding in some areas. If you come upon a road that is flooded turn your vehicle around and find an alternate route.

Residents are also encouraged to have emergency supplies at their homes as power outages will be likely due to downed trees and tree limbs. Among the items your household emergency kits should include are a flashlight with extra batteries, bottled water and a first aid kit.

Further details on how to make an emergency kit can be found here.

In the event of a power loss residents are STRONGLY advised to use flashlights for emergency lightning and NOT candles.

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3-Alarm Fire Rips Through Historic Babcock Building on Bull Street Site

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For the first time in several years Columbia-Richland firefighters faced a 3-Alarm fire when flames overtook and consumed much of the historic Babcock Building on Saturday morning, September 12, 2020.

The building, which sits on the Bull Street development in Columbia, was originally erected in the 1800s and for years was a part of the South Carolina Department of Mental Health. Much of the central section of the building was left heavily damaged by the fire. The building’s iconic dome also came crashing down after becoming engulfed by the flames. Several other collapses in the building also occurred as the fire spread from floor to floor of the structure.

Fire crews initially responded to the building sometime after 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning after getting reports of a smell of smoke in the air. When the first engine crew arrived on scene heavy fire cold be seen coming from the basement area.

Conditions would only worsen and by the time additional crews arrived heavy fire was spreading throughout the building. This prompted leaders on scene to call for a 3-Alarm response. More than 50 CRFD personnel became involved in the operation and resources were realigned to maintain fire coverage throughout the city and Richland County. The Fort Jackson Fire Department also provided support during the operation.

Multiple crews would remain on the Bull Street development throughout the day Saturday working to bring the fire under control. By Saturday evening firefighters were finally able to get the flames under control. During the operation two CRFD firefighters suffered minor injuries due to falling debris.

CRFD and the Columbia Police Department are currently investigating the fire with the assistance of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

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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


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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