‘Battle of the Badges Blood Drive’ THIS FRIDAY May 27th

This coming Friday — May 27, 2022 — the Columbia-Richland Fire Department will be taking on the Richland County Sheriff’s Department and the Columbia Police Department in the annual ‘Battle of the Badges Blood Drive.’

The event is a day-long blood drive to see which agency can raise the most blood donations for the American Red Cross of South Carolina! Citizens interested in donating are invited to go to the Charles Drew Wellness Center (2101 Walker Solomon Way) or the Richland County Decker Center (2500 Decker Boulevard) anytime on Friday between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m.

CRFD, RCSD and CPD taking part in a press conference for Battle of the Badges on May 24th

All presenting donors at the Battle of the Badges blood drive will receive a Red Cross aluminum water bottle and customizable stickers, while supplies last.

Be sure to vote for the agency you want to see win when you make your donation!

CRFD thanks all of our citizens that plan to take part in the competition and help us give the gift of life by strengthening our community blood supply.

 

CRFD works with Red Cross to install more than 200 smoke alarms in Columbia homes

On Saturday May 14, 2022 the Columbia-Richland Fire Department partnered with the American Red Cross of South Carolina on its first large-scale community smoke alarm blitz in three years.

During the ‘Sound the Alarm Smoke Alarm Blitz’ 225 free alarms were distributed and installed at homes in the Columbia neighberhoods of Ridgewood and Byrneswood. Teams of CRFD firefighters and Red Cross volunteers completed the alarm installs during much of the day. They also took the time to distribute fire prevention information and materials to area resdients.

In all the teams hit 83 households in the Columbia area during the blitz.

19 CRFD Members Earn Promotions in Early 2022

The Columbia-Richland Fire Department ushered in 2022 by promoting 19 members to new ranks of leadership. Since the beginning of the year, CRFD has promoted one new battalion chief as well as five new fire captains and seven new fire engineers. In addition to that five firefighters were promoted to the rank of senior firefighter and the department also appointed a new coordinator to oversee volunteer fire stations.

With their friends and family members looking on, each honoree officially received their new badge from Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins during a series of ceremonial pinnings at CRFD headquarters.

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

 

Promoted to Senior Firefighter

Kevin McDonald                              Peyton Simien                          William Slicer

Brendan Spears                            Len Stokes Jr.

(From left: Senior Firefighter Brendan Spears & Senior Firefighter Len Stokes Jr. with CRFD Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins)

Promoted to Engineer

Thomas Bookman                        Javier Colon                             John Douglass

Spencer Heath                              Joshua McGee                       Jaered Shelton

Daniel Watson

(From left: Engineer Javier Colon & Engineer Spencer Heath with CRFD Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins)

Promoted to Fire Captain

Raymond Champagne                 David China                             Layne Dowey

William Marker                             Leroy Todd

(From top left: Fire Captain Raymond Champagne, Fire Captain Layne Dowey & Fire Captain Leroy Todd with CRFD Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins)

Promoted to Battalion Chief

Jason Herbert

 

Appointed to Volunteer Coordinator

Richard Wymer

 

Firetruck Pull Nets More Than $19,000 to Aid Children Fighting Cancer

For the first time in three years citizens from around the Columbia area came together to compete pulling CRFD firetrucks at the annual Firetruck Pull on Saturday morning April 30, 2022.

By the time the event was over more than $19,000 was raised to benefit ‘Curing Kids Cancer.’ Those funds will now be used by the organization to support pediatric cancer research and patient care at Prisma Health Children’s Hospital-Midlands.

Twenty teams took part in the 2022 Firetruck Pull including one team made up of members of the Columbia-Richland Fire Department. This was the first time the competition was held live in Columbia since 2019. In 2020 and 2021 the event had to be held virtually due to the treat of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“Our department takes great pride in being able to sponsor this event each year by providing the firetrucks and I am thrilled that we’re now able to hold it again live and in person,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “I am also very proud of our members that came out to pull for CRFD and support the spirit of the competition.”

Each team that took part in the firetruck pull competed to show support or honor the memory of a child that has been touched by cancer. Team CRFD pulled in honor of 9-year-old Killian Owen, who passed away from cancer in 2003 and whose courageous story led to the founding of ‘Curing Kids Cancer.’ Over the years the organization has gone on to raise more than $23 million for pediatric cancer research and treatment through fundraising campaigns and events. All proceeds raised from the Firetruck Pull will benefit the Gamecock Curing Kids Cancer $1.2 million endowment to the Children’s Center for Cancer & Blood Disorders Clinic at Prisma Health Children’s Hospital – Midlands.

Winners of the competition are declared by determining which teams can pull a CRFD fire engine the fastest over a distance of about 30 feet. This year members of the University of South Carolina Football Team pulling as ‘Gamecocks for Khalil’ took home the top honor as the fastest 10-person team. The fastest 12-person team to complete the pull was members of the USC Equestrian Team pulling as ‘USC Equestrian for Brianna.’

The ‘Moms of Warriors’ team won the award for raising the most funds ahead of the competition while team ‘Eve’s Princes and Princesses’ was recognized as the best dressed team.

Firefighters Take to the Saluda River to Drill in Swiftwater Rescue

Crews with the Columbia-Richland Fire Department were once again out on the Saluda River in mid-April practicing rescue techniques in swiftwater conditions.

The annual swiftwater rescue training and recertification classes assisted firefighters in getting ready to handle an increased number of water rescues during the summer season. All training sessions took place on the stretch of the Saluda River off of Candi Lane near the Riverbanks Zoo.

“The warmer weather always brings a strong uptick in the number of water rescues that our firefighters are called to handle. That’s why it’s highly important for us to get this training and re-training in with our crews during the spring,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “We are incredibly grateful to Dominion Energy for making these sessions possible by giving us the water-flow we need on the river.”

Every year Dominion Energy commits certain days in April to flowing more water through the Dreher Shoals Dam. This creates white-water conditions on the Lower Saluda needed to maximize training for CRFD rescue crews.

“Collaborations like this are essential for serving our neighbors when they need us most,” said Keller Kissam, Dominion Energy South Carolina President. “Whether by providing safe, reliable electric and gas service or assisting with emergency response, we’ve had the privilege of working for decades alongside Chief Jenkins and the team of professionals at the Columbia-Richland Fire Department.”

Matt Long with ‘Dominion Energy’ speaking to the media on Day 2 of training

Firefighters want to remind citizens to ALWAYS be aware of water flow conditions on area rivers before venturing out to recreate. Conditions on the Lower Saluda River are always accessible by logging on to www.dominionenergy.com . Planned operations that could change the flow of the river are listed. 

While recreating on the water citizens are also highly encouraged to WEAR A LIFE JACKET or personal flotation device.

Four Firefighters Ready for Service After Completing CRFD’s ‘Direct Hire Program’

Four firefighters have now become the latest group to complete the new ‘Direct Hire Program’ at the Columbia-Richland Fire Department. Following training that spanned roughly 8 weeks these new members were officially sworn into service by Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins on Thursday April 14. They then began service to the community on Saturday August 16.

“This now brings the total number of people who have completed our ‘Direct Hire Program’ to 9,” said Chief Jenkins, “Each of these new firefighters brings past experience and acquired skills that will be of great help to our department and our crews. I look forward to seeing them progress in their careers here at CRFD over the coming weeks and months.”

The department’s ‘Direct Hire Program’ allows candidates with prior experience and the proper certifications to begin running calls with the department faster through an abridged fire academy program. Training for candidates in the program spans about 2 months. Applicants who are new to the fire service are encouraged to apply for the standard training program, which spans about 18 weeks.

Each new firefighter was officially badged by Fire Chief Jenkins during a brief ceremony at department headquarters on April 14. Family members of the honorees were allowed to be in attendance to celebrate the accomplishments of their loved ones.

The Columbia-Richland Fire Department is proud to congratulate our newest members!

 

          Firefighter Caleb Edgehill                        Firefighter Jacob Hardee

 

           Firefighter Daniel Morris                            Firefighter John West

 

2-Alarm Fire Rips Through Rosewood Apartment Building

On the evening of Friday April 8, 2022 CRFD crews responded to a reported fire at Columbia Garden Apartments in the Rosewood neighborhood of the city.

When the first units got to the scene after 7:40 p.m. they found heavy fire coming from the second floor of the building. This prompted officers on scene to call for a second alarm which dispatched more crews. In all roughly 50 CRFD personnel became involved in the operation.

No one was injured but the building on Plowden Road did suffer significant damages. At least 15 people were left displaced.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

New Dual-Purpose CRFD Firetruck Begins Service

On Monday April 4, 2022 leaders in the City of Columbia and Richland County joined CRFD firefighters in ushering the department’s newest firetruck into service.

Station 4 in northeast Richland County is now home to a new dual-purpose firetruck that will be able to respond to calls for service as a ladder truck as well as an engine. Among its features is a longer 107-foot ladder as well as a 500-gallon tank that can hold 20-gallons of foam fire suppressant.

Keeping with tradition, the new Ladder 4 was ‘pushed’ into its garage bay at Station 4 on its first day in service. Joining CRFD staff to take part in the push in was Columbia Mayor Daniel Rickenmann, City Manager Teresa Wilson, City Councilman Howard Duvall, City Councilman Joe E. Taylor Jr., Richland County Administrator Leonardo Brown and Assistant County Administrator Dr. John Thompson.

The capabilities of the new firetruck will support CRFD firefighters as they continue to respond to what has been a growing number of calls in the northeast. In 2019 Station 4 responded to 1,245 calls for service. In 2021 the number of service calls answered by the station nearly doubled to 2,073.

Applications Still Being Taken for Open Firefighting Positions at CRFD

The Columbia-Richland Fire Department is continuing to accept and review applications for open firefighting positions. The department’s base starting pay for a firefighter is now $34,174 with incentive pay available to candidates who possess higher ed degrees (Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Master’s) or EMT, Rescue and/or HAZMAT certifications. All firefighters are also eligible for extra pay through overtime opportunities!!

As an added advantage, all applicants with prior firefighting experience and Firefighter I and II certification through IFSAC and or Pro-Board will be eligible for CRFD’s Direct Hire Program. The program features an abridged training academy that enables hires to reach active service with the department in fewer weeks.

“Upon competition of their training those who are taken in through the direct hire program will be able to run service calls for the department. Our first group that completed the program was able to do that in just 8 weeks,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “Our ultimate goal through this new hiring initiative is to get qualified men and women into our ranks at a quicker pace. We hope members of the community, regardless of their experience level in the fire service, will consider applying.”

Applicants who do not possess a Firefighter I and II certification are still eligible to take part in the department’s standard recruit training program, which has a longer training academy that usually takes 18 weeks.

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!!

 

                                                      CRFD Pay Scale

                                         (upon completion of recruit schools)

Firefighter

Annual Earnings

               High School Diploma                              $34,174
                  Associates Degree                              $34,686
                  Bachelor’s Degree                               $35,711

Master’s Degree

$36,480

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 Assistant Chief Jamie Helms by calling 803-545-3704 or sending an email to james.helms@columbiasc.gov

File an application by clicking here!

 

House Fire in Richland County Ruled Arson

Investigators with the Richland County Fire Marshal’s Office have determined that a fire that caused extensive damages to a home on Whitney Street on March 8, 2022 was intentionally set.

  

CRFD 2nd Shift crews responded to the home at around 9:40 a.m.  Upon their arrival responders found heavy fire coming from back of the property and spreading through the structure. Firefighters entered the home and were able to get the fire under control. There were no injuries but the incident did leave at least four people displaced.

The case has now been turned over to the Richland County Sheriff’s Department. Anyone that has any information on the incident is asked to call CRIME STOPPERS at 1-888-CRIME SC.