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Knowing the Dangers of Gas & CO Leaks

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In light of recent events, Columbia Richland Fire wants to make sure all area residents know the risks created by having natural gas or carbon monoxide leaks in a home or business.

Gas Leaks

Natural gas can pose a huge danger if it’s leaking. In its natural state gas has no color and no odor. However an odor is added to the gas to help you detect a potential leak.

IF YOU SMELL GAS (typically a rotten egg odor)

1. Leave the area immediately!
2. Warn others to stay away!
3. From a safe place outside, call 9-1-1 AND your gas company.


-smoke, use a lighter or strike a match
-use any electric switch, telephone or cell phone or flashlight as they can cause sparks and ignite gas
-start or stop nearby vehicles, machinery or things that may spark
-try to turn natural gas valves on or off

If your home or business uses natural gas, your gas provider can be a great source of further information.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide is called ‘the invisible killer’ for a reason.

It’s an invisible, odorless and colorless gas that can poison you over a period of time.

That’s why having a working CO detector in your home is CRITICAL!

Tips to Remember About CO & CO Detectors

  • CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home and in other locations where required by applicable laws, codes or standards. For the best protection, interconnect all CO alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement and mounting height.
  • Choose a CO alarm that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Call your local fire department’s non-emergency number to find out what number to call if the CO alarm sounds.
  • Test CO alarms at least once a month; replace them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • If the audible trouble signal sounds, check for low batteries. If the battery is low, replace it. If it still sounds, call the fire department.
  • If the CO alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for. Call for help from a fresh air location and stay there until emergency personnel.
  • If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Do not run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not covered with snow.
  • During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow build-up.
  • A generator should be used in a well-ventilated location outdoors away from windows, doors and vent openings.
  • Gas or charcoal grills can produce CO — only use outside.

For further information on CO and symptoms of CO poisoning, click here.

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20 New Columbia Richland Firefighters Graduate into Service

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Columbia Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins officially confirmed 20 new firefighters for the department as members of the 2018-02 CFD Recruit Class graduated on February 7, 2019.



Each recruit was badged by Chief Jenkins at a ceremony held at Boyce Chapel at First Baptist Church in Columbia, South Carolina.

“These recruits have demonstrated that they are ready to serve our communities,” Chief Jenkins said, “They have shown a firm commitment to their firefighter training over these past 18 weeks. I expect that dedication to serve each of them well as they begin their careers as CFD probationary firefighters and protectors of the public.”

All members of class 18-02 will begin their CFD firefighter careers this weekend as they report to their shifts.

The department also presented several awards during the ceremony including the Maltese Cross Award and the Bryan P. Roberts Award


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Columbia Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins marks 40 years of public service

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February 2019 is now officially ‘Aubrey D. Jenkins Month’ in the city of Columbia.

This comes after the Columbia Richland fire chief was honored by City Manager Teresa Wilson and members of the city council on the evening of February 5, 2019.

That day marked exactly 40 years since Chief Jenkins joined the CFD. He began his firefighting career in 1979 on the tailboard of an Engine for a Battalion Chief. Over the years he would rise through the department’s ranks and eventually become Columbia’s first African American fire chief.

In addition to the council’s proclamation, Chief Jenkins was also awarded a Key to the City by Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin and presented with a signed fire boot from all of the members of the council.


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CFD firefighter recruit receives outpouring of support following collision

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People across the Columbia Richland fire family and beyond have been sending prayers and support to a CFD recruit firefighter who was seriously injured on Saturday, January 19, 2019.

CFD Recruit Firefighter Brandon Zinn

Recruit Brandon Zinn is continuing to recover at an area hospital. According to the Columbia Police Department the 25-year-old was struck by a suspected impaired motorist while on his motorcycle at Bluff Road and I-77. The police department believes that alcohol may have played a role in what happened.

Brandon’s left leg was reportedly severed in the crash. A CPD officer who was the first to arrive on scene quickly applied a tourniquet to help stop the bleeding. Richland County EMS then rushed Brandon to the hospital where he underwent multiple surgeries for his injuries. According to his family those injuries include multiple broken bones and internal trauma.

At the time of the crash he was less than three weeks away from completing CFD recruit school. He was on his way to the CFD Training Complex Saturday morning to assist staff as they evaluated potential new hires.

Brandon is part of a 22-member recruit class that’s slated to graduate on February 7, 2019. He is also married and has a 6-month old son.

Brandon with his wife Emily and 6-month old son Charlie

To assist Brandon and his family with the expenses they will face on his long road to recovery, CFD is now working with the South Carolina State Firefighters Association Foundation.  

Anyone who would like to make a tax-deductible donation in support of the Zinn family can do so by clicking here and following these instructions:

  1. Fill out all of your contact information on the page.
  2. Select ‘Assist Firefighters & Their Families’ under the part that asks where you want to designate your donation.
  3. Fill in the amount you would like to donate.
  4. Put in your payment information.
  5. VERY IMPORTANT!! Under the part that says ‘Add a Note,’ write ‘For Brandon Zinn.’

Checks can also be made out to the SC State Firefighters Association Foundation in support of the Zinn family. Be sure to write ‘For Brandon Zinn’ in the memo line of the check.

Members of the CFD will continue to provide support and assistance to Brandon, his friends and family and the members of his recruit class in the wake of this terrible incident.


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Colder temps could bring greater risk for home heating fires

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The possibility of chillier weather over the coming weeks and months will no doubt leave more people turning to their home heating systems to keep warm.

Unfortunately, that move can lead to a higher chance of a major fire if those systems are not properly maintained.

“This is a grim reality of the winter season,” said Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “Having proper heat is a necessity for comfort. It shouldn’t have to result in putting your home and loved ones at risk. We strongly encourage all area residents to make sure their home heating heating equipment is ready for the months ahead. We also want them to practice caution while using space heaters and fireplaces as a primary source of heat.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) heating equipment was involved in more than 54,000 reported U.S. home fires from 2011 to 2015. Each year heating systems are a leading cause of home fire deaths.

Here’s a few tips to heat your home safely this winter:

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
  • Have a three-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.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
  • Make sure the 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.
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NOTICE: SCE&G to conduct emergency siren tests today Jan. 8th

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Area residents who live in northern parts of Richland County and neighborhoods close to the I-20 and I-26 junction are likely to hear sirens on Tuesday, January 8, 2019.

The reason why is SCE&G is planning to conduct two separate tests of siren warning systems during the afternoon.

The first test will begin at 12 noon along the Lower Saluda River and should last about 3 minutes. Sirens on the Saluda River would be used to alert area residents if there was a potential failure at the Lake Murray Dam and its backup. The company says that testing the sirens is part of the dam’s emergency action plan.

Then at close to 1 p.m. SCE&G will sound 109 sirens located within a 10-mile radius of the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in Fairfield County near Jenkinsville. That test could last anywhere from one to three minutes.

Residents are once again advised that the sounding of both sets of sirens on January 8 is ONLY A TEST.

In the case of an actual emergency the sirens would advise the public to tune into the Emergency Alert System or local radio and television for further information.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact your county emergency management office using the following numbers:

  • Fairfield County 803-635-5511
  • Lexington County 803-785-8343
  • Newberry County 803-321-2135
  • Richland County 803-576-3417
  • S.C. Emergency Mgt. Division 803-737-8500
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Volunteer Firefighters brighten holidays for Caughman Road school

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Staff at CFD Station 30 definitely demonstrated the spirit of giving in December by making a huge donation to help students in need at a Richland County school. 

On December 21, 2018 Engine 30 arrived at Caughman Road Elementary School. Firefighters at the station unloaded a truckload of water, snacks and small holiday gifts.

All of those items went straight into the school’s food pantry where they will be distributed to students in need.

The drop-off happened as the entire school was holding a final assembly before the holiday recess.

“The Columbia Fire Department has decided to donate and adopt your school for this year,” Volunteer Firefighter Will Salazar told the kids, “so we’ve got a lot of donations school supplies, food that you guys will be able to use for yourselves in your classrooms and around your community so we thank you for being our future leaders and we thank you for being here today.”

Salazar and other volunteer members at Station 30 were able to fund the donation by applying for and obtaining a $1,200 grant from Wal-Mart.

Columbia Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins accompanied the firefighters as they went shopping for items on December 17, 2018. He and other members of CFD’s command staff were also on hand for the donation drop-off at the school.

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Safety Points to Remember as you Ring in 2019!

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The staff at Columbia Richland Fire hopes that you all enjoyed the holiday season and are getting ready to welcome 2019!

If you plan to venture out to enjoy New Years festivities PLEASE keep these safety tips in mind:

If your celebrations this year will include alcohol…

1. Make a plan ahead of time. Don’t wait until you’ve started drinking to figure out how you’re going to get home.

2. Never get in the car with a driver who has been drinking. Even one alcoholic beverage can impair his or her ability to drive safely.

3. Make sure friends and family who celebrate with you have a safe ride home, or invite them to sleep on your couch or spare bed.

4. Plan to call a taxi or use a ride sharing service such as Uber or Lyft to help you get home safely.

5. If you wake up early on New Year’s Day after consuming too many adult beverages the night before, be aware that you could still be legally intoxicated and don’t drive until enough time has passed that you’re sober.

Also, if you witness a driver who you suspect may be driving under the influence, pull over to a safe place and call 9-1-1 or *H-P.

If you plan to use fireworks this evening…

1. Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.

2. Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.

3. Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don’t realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals.

4. Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.

5. Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.

6. Never point or throw fireworks at another person.

7. Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.

8. Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.

9. Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.

10. After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.

11. Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.

All of us here at Columbia Richland Fire wish you and your families a happy and safe new year!

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2-alarm fire leaves historic Babcock Building damaged

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More than 50 firefighters with Columbia Richland Fire helped preserve a piece of Columbia’s history on the evening of December 13, 2018.

Fire coming from upper floors of Columbia’s historic Babcock building

At around 5:30 p.m. fire broke out on an upper floor of the Babcock Building off of Calhoun Street. The building, which used to be part of the South Carolina State Hospital, has a history dating back to the mid 1800s when it was built in four sections. It has been listed on the National Register since October 30, 1981.

When CFD’s first crews arrived on scene they found fire visible from the fourth floor of the building’s south section. Eventually that fire began to shoot through the roof and a second alarm was sounded for more units to respond.

The sheer age of the building was the biggest concern early in the operation. Commanders on scene chose not to send firefighters inside the structure because of the condition of its wooden floors.

Instead department ladder and tower trucks were used to spray water on the fire from above.  At around 10 p.m. crews were able to enter the building and attack the fire from within. By 11 p.m. the fire was under control and in total the operation lasted more than five hours.

Thankfully there were no reports of any firefighters or civilians being injured.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Initial estimates are that the incident caused approximately $500,000 in damages.

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CFD celebrates staff promotions and appointments at December ceremony

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Columbia Richland Fire would wind down 2018 by officially recognizing more than 40 members of the department for their career accomplishments.

Department leaders hosted a recognition ceremony on December 10, 2018 to congratulate staff who were promoted or appointed to new positions. That included many employees who earned higher ranks working in fire suppression.

CFD Recognition Ceremony at department headquarters – December 10, 2018
CFD Volunteer Coordinator William Broscious with some of our newly appointed volunteer captains.

Several families were on hand for the ceremony at department headquarters to  celebrate the accomplishments of their loved ones.

Here is the complete list of honorees:

Senior Firefighter

Effective October 21, 2017

Hampton Bailey     Michael Baird     Thomas Bookman     Patrick Crumpton

Markus Ervin      Christian Kerr          William Neff            Justin Owens

 Le’Andre Patterson     Stephan Sims-King     Travis Wiggins      

Effective March 10, 2018

Gustavo Gonzalez

Effective May 19, 2018

Adam Baker     Jesse Bussey    Carl Edwards    Reinaldo Sabb

Effective December 15, 2018

 Javier Colon     David Cox     Cody Knight     Josh Moskaitis

Shaun Murphy      Alexander T.  Reese     Jaered Shelton

Gary Sopcheck     Guy Williams


Effective May 19, 2018

Thomas Nichols

Effective July 14, 2018

Thomas Ray

Effective September 8, 2018

Blake Hott

Effective December 1, 2018

Austin Graham     Acie Kibler     Adam Lundquist      Travis Pickett

Jonathan Lykes                                                             

Volunteer Captain

Effective December of 2018

Tiffany Bowen     Christopher Brazell     J.D. McCarley

Fire Captain

Effective September 8, 2018

Gary Walters     

Effective December 1, 2018

Dustin Lone     Bryan Spitzer

Battalion Chief

Effective December 1, 2018

James Warf

Battalion Chief James Warf being officially pinned by Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins

Division Chief

Effective December 1, 2018

Kevin Hart

Division Chief Kevin Hart being congratulated by Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins

Department Appointments

Public Information Officer – Mike DeSumma (Effective June 18, 2018)

Fire Communications Officer – Marcas Houtchings (Effective December 1, 2018)

Fire Training Chief – Anthony Holloway (Effective July 14, 2018)