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Stay Prepared Ahead of Severe Storms

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With severe storms likely to pop up across the Midlands during the afternoon and evening hours on Thursday, February 6, 2020 — Columbia Richland Fire wants to encourage all residents to take steps to prepare and stay informed!

Here’s some key information to keep in mind:

  • High winds from the storms are likely to produce damage. This could lead to utility poles and power lines coming down. If a power line falls on the ground near you, DO NOT go near it! Call 9-1-1 immediately to report the downed line!
  • If a power line falls on the road DO NOT drive over it!
  • Damaging winds could also bring down trees. If a tree falls on your home call 9-1-1 immediately to report the damage and if it is significant enough be prepared to evacuate your household.

  • Prepare an emergency kit in case your home loses power during the storm. Among items this should include:
    • a battery-powered flashlight 
    • extra packs of batteries
    • non-perishable food items
    • medications
    • first aid kit
    • More needed items can be found by clicking here.
  • If you lose power during the storm report the outage to your power company!
  • If heavy rains produce flash flooding use caution while driving on the roads! If you come across a road that is covered with water turn your vehicle around and go back the way you came. DO NOT DRIVE THROUGH FLOOD WATERS!
  • Finally stay tuned to weather conditions on local media! If a tornado warning is issued for your area, TAKE SHELTER in the basement of your home or an inner room preferably with no windows (examples: a bathroom or an inner hallway). Protect your head with anything available! 

  • If there is a threat of a tornado, DO NOT STAY in a mobile home! Other tips for safety during a tornado can be found by clicking here.

Thank you all for reading and please stay safe!

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Firefighters and Community Come Together to Help Former Department Recruit

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A benefit organized to support ‘the firefighting dream’ of Brandon Zinn received a great turnout at the department headquarters on Saturday, January 18, 2020.

The event fell roughly one year after Zinn’s goal to become a firefighter with the department was taken away from him. In late January of 2019 he was struck on his motorcycle by an alleged drunk driver. Zinn lost most of one of his legs in the collision, which prevented him from finishing recruit school. At the time of the incident he was just weeks away from graduation.

On January 18 firefighters with Columbia Richland Fire welcomed guests into department headquarters on Laurel Street for a community open house. The event featured firetrucks on display, firefighting gear demonstrations food and several items that were up for grabs in a silent auction. Several organizations that have played a part in Zinn’s recovery were also in attendance providing information to guests. These groups included MADD South Carolina, Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Columbia and Hanger Clinic Prosthetics and Orthotics.

All proceeds raised from the benefit will go to support Zinn while he works through ongoing rehabilitation. Funds will also be used to find and develop the equipment needed to help him return to serving as a firefighter.

Since last year’s incident Zinn has made tremendous progress in his recovery. He is now able to use a prosthetic leg to walk and was able to attend the event alongside his wife Emily and infant son Charlie.

The benefit was made possible by staff at the fire department as well as members of the Columbia Firefighters Association.

For details on how to help Brandon Zinn click here.

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20 New Firefighters Sworn Into Service After Graduating from Recruit School

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Columbia Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins officially confirmed 20 new firefighters for the department as members of the 2019-02 Columbia Richland Fire Recruit Class graduated on the evening of January 23, 2020.

Each recruit was badged by Chief Jenkins at a ceremony held inside the Denny Auditorium on the campus of the South Carolina Fire Academy while their friends and loved ones looked on.

“This was a moment that I look forward to with each and every recruit class that completes our 18-week academy,” Chief Jenkins said, “Each of these new firefighters has demonstrated that they have a true desire to serve and protect the public. The badges they have earned today will now be a permanent reminder of the strong conviction they’ve shown during their training. I look forward to seeing them grow into their professions as they begin service with our department.”

All members of class 19-02 will report to work beginning this Saturday January 25, 2020.


The department would like to congratulate the members of Recruit Class 2019-02

Members of Recruit Class 2019-02 with Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins


Jackson Day


Kyle Dowler


Taylor Fitzpatrick


Peter Hackett


Jordan Herbert


Matthew Ives


Adam Johnston


Cruz Mata


Sterling Morrow


Michael Rodriguez


Parker Payne


Shannon Peters


Jake Piraino


Michael Pittas


Nathan Poore


Alex Richards


Jordan Summerton


Logan Taber


Michael Tolson


Trent Yandle

 The department also presented several awards during the ceremony including the Maltese Cross Award and the Bryan P. Roberts Award. Recruit Parker Payne would take home both awards. The Jack. H. Veal Top Instructor Award for this recruit class would go to Fire Captain Chad Alexander.

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Benefit Planned to Support Firefighting Dream of Former Recruit

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Staff at Columbia Richland Fire will be rolling up their sleeves on Saturday, January 18, 2020 to assist a former department recruit in achieving his lifelong dream to be a firefighter.

Last January Brandon Zinn faced a major setback in reaching that goal when he was struck by an alleged drunk driver while riding his motorcycle. At the time Brandon was just weeks away from completing his firefighter training at the department’s academy. The incident caused him to lose one of his legs just above the knee.

Since that dark day Brandon has made great strides in his quest to go back to recruit school but the cost of acquiring and maintaining the needed prosthetics will be something his family will have to face for the long term.

On January 18 Columbia Richland Fire will be lending a hand by hosting an open house day at the department from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Guests can contribute any kind of donation they would like to get in for a day of firehouse fun. Every dollar raised will go towards supporting Brandon’s progress towards his goal.

We hope many of you can come out to support this noble cause!

If you can’t make the event and would still like to help out click here to visit a GoFundMe page that has been setup to help Brandon

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Tips to Ring In the Year 2020 Safely!

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Columbia Richland firefighters want to STRONGLY encourage area residents to practice safety and due caution while welcoming a NEW decade to the Central Midlands. For the safety of you, your loved ones and others please adhere to the following guidelines during the New Year Holiday!



  • Plan your safe ride home before you start the party, choose a non-drinking friend as a designated driver.
  • If someone you know has been drinking, do not let that person get behind the wheel. Take their keys and help them arrange a sober ride home. 
  • If you drink, do not drive for any reason. Call a taxi, a ride-hailing service, or a sober friend. 
  • If you’re hosting a party where alcohol will be served, make sure all guests leave with a sober driver.
  • Always wear your seat belt — it’s your best defense against impaired drivers.
  • If you see an impaired driver on the road, dial *HP to report it. Your actions could help save someone’s life!       



  • When Using Ride-Share Services & Taxis:
    • Confirm your ride by checking the license plate.

      • Before getting into a ride-hailing vehicle, make sure the car and license plate match what you booked through the app. Many of these cars can look alike. You should also look at the driver and ask them their name, to confirm it matches the name and photo in the app.
    • Find a safe spot to be picked up.

      • Pickup locations for ride-hailing services aren’t usually centralized. You should pick a location where you can wait inside until the driver arrives. If that’s not possible, choose an area to wait that’s away from the roadway, well lit, and where your driver can safely stop. Request that your driver drop you off in a safe spot too.
      • Don’t step into the road to flag down a ride. Go to a taxi stand, call for a cab or request someone call a ride for you. It’s never a good idea to accept a ride from a stranger who may stop after seeing you looking for a ride.
    • Wear a seat belt.

      • Even if it’s a quick ride and you’re in the back seat, you should always buckle up, and make sure that your driver wears their seat belt, too.
  • Don’t Ride a Bike or Scooter After Drinking Alcohol or Using Drugs.

  • Avoid Walking Home If You’ve Been Drinking or Using Drugs. 
  • Be Vigilant if Using Public Transportation
    • be aware of your surroundings, especially if you’re traveling alone
    • choose a seat near the driver or operator
    • don’t sleep on a train or bus
    • look to see if there is an emergency call button should you need it


  • Be safe. If you want to see fireworks, go to a public show put on by experts.
  • Keep a close eye on children at events where fireworks are used.
  • 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.

The entire staff at Columbia Richland Fire wishes everyone a happy and safe new year!



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Firefighters encourage residents to water Christmas trees, assess decorations during holiday season

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With the Christmas holiday now just a few days away decorated trees are popping up in houses and businesses across the Midlands. As in years past Columbia Richland Fire wants to remind residents to exercise awareness and caution with their Christmas trees ESPECIALLY if they plan to put live trees inside their homes.

“A dried out tree inside your den or living room is nothing short of firewood if the tree catches fire,” said Columbia Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “The tree will burn hot and for a long period of time and that will QUICKLY cause other items around it to go up in flames. The end result is guaranteed extensive damages to your home and the high risk of injury to you and your family.”

“The chance of this happening can be greatly reduced simply by watering your Christmas tree regularly and keeping it away from all heating sources,” Jenkins added.

Studies and videos produced by the National Fire Protection Association clearly document the dangers of Christmas tree fires.

The NFPA has reported that from 2013 through 2017 fire departments across the U.S. responded to an average of 160 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. An additional 780 home fires each year began with decorations other than Christmas trees.


Preventing Tree Fires

Keeping your Christmas tree healthy and more flame-resistant begins with finding the greenest tree!

  • Choose a tree with fresh green needles that do not fall off when touched!

Once you select your tree and bring it inside your home…

  • Cut 2 inches from the base of the trunk before placing the tree in a stand
  • Make sure the tree is at least 3 feet away from any heat source (i.e. heating vents, candles, radiators, fireplaces, etc.).
  • Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
  • Add water to the tree at least twice daily.

When you decorate the tree…

  • Use lights that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use.
  • Replace any string of lights that are worn out or broken! Follow manufacturer’s guidelines on the maximum number of light strands to connect.
  • NEVER use lit candles to decorate the tree!!
  • Always turn off the tree lights before you go to bed or leave your home.

Quickly dispose of the tree after Christmas or when it is dry. Do not leave it inside or against the home!



Other Holiday Safety Tips

  • Be careful with holiday decorations. Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant.
  • Keep lit candles away from decorations and other things that can burn. For added safety use battery powered candles instead.
  • Blow out lit candles and turn off holiday lights when you leave the room or go to bed.
  • Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of light strands to connect.
  • Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.
  • Keep decorations away from windows and doors.


When entertaining guests…

  • Test your smoke alarms and tell guests about your home fire escape plan.
  • Keep children and pets away from lit candles.

  • Keep matches and lighters up high in a locked cabinet.
  • Stay in the kitchen when cooking on the stovetop.
  • Ask smokers to smoke outside. Remind smokers to keep their smoking materials with them so young children do not touch them.
  • Provide large, deep ashtrays for smokers. Wet cigarette butts with water before discarding.


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Recovery continues for firefighter who donated part of liver to help woman with cancer

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The Columbia Richland firefighter who underwent surgery to aid a woman battling cancer would return home on November 19, 2019 to a hero’s welcome.

Senior Firefighter Chastain ‘Chaz’ Cannon was greeted by his family, friends and firefighter brethren as soon as he arrived in the terminal at Columbia Metropolitan Airport. This came just weeks after cannon had surgery to remove a large section of his liver at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New York. His liver was donated to Scarlet Lutz Kasperbauer, the sister of another firefighter at the department, with the hope of giving her a cancer-free life.

Firefighter Cannon (right) with Scarlet Kasperbauer

Cannon had the surgery on October 30, 2019 and began recovery in Rochester for several weeks following the procedure. According to his family both he and Kasperbauer are continuing to recover well.

Cannon will continue to recover for several months until he can return to work as a department firefighter. He will have to return to Strong Hospital for several follow up appointments to track his recovery.

All of us at Columbia Richland Fire salute Chaz Cannon for his incredibly brave and selfless act to help a person in need! Great work brother!

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Firefighters spread holiday cheer at 2019 Carolina Carillon Parade

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Members of Columbia Richland Fire were once again proud to take part in the annual Carolina Carillion Parade to usher in the Christmas season to the Midlands on Saturday, December 7, 2019.

Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins and members of the department’s command staff led several of our trucks and staff on the holiday march down Sumter Street. They were joined by area high school marching bands, our parterning agencies in law enforcement, community organizations and of course jolly old Santa Claus!



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New requirements to be enforced for food trucks operating in Columbia

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Starting next year food trucks conducting business within the capital city will be required to meet new guidelines set by the latest edition of the International Fire Code.

“This initiative by our department will help ensure that all food vendors operating a food truck within the city will be safe while serving their customers,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “Many people love to visit food trucks to grab a quick bite during the work week or at weekend events. Our goal is to make sure that these vehicles have all the necessary equipment onboard to prevent or mitigate fires and other hazards.”

Mobile food trucks have become fixtures for many downtowns, business districts and events. While they offer convenient dining options and unique eating experiences, these ‘virtual restaurants’ also create safety challenges. I recent years increased fire incidents and gas explosions have led to a closer review of safety regulations and inspections.

As a result, the International Code Council developed a section for the 2018 edition of the International Fire Code (IFC) to address mounting fire safety concerns. Requirements include a wide range of fire safety features — from fire suppression to safeguarding of LP (liquefied gas) and CNG (compressed natural gas) systems.

The Columbia Fire Marshal’s Office will start enforcing these new requirements beginning on January 1, 2020 when the regulations will go into effect in South Carolina. All new and existing food preparation vehicles containing cooking equipment that produces smoke or grease-laden vapors are subject to the new rules. These vehicles include food trucks, concession trailers and similar vehicles used for cooking, preparing and serving food to the public.

            Here are a few excerpts from the new guidelines:



  • Cooking equipment that produces grease-laden vapors requires a Type I kitchen exhaust hood.
  • Type I kitchen exhaust hoods require an automatic fire-extinguishing system.

Image result for 2a10bc fire extinguisherImage result for class k fire extinguisher


            2A: 10BC                                              Class K 


  • At least one 2A:10BC fire extinguisher and one 1.5-gallon Class ‘K’ fire extinguisher are required for up to four fryers with a medium capacity of 80 pounds.
  • Gas cooking appliances must be secured and connected to the fuel supply piping with an appliance connector complying with ANSI Z21.69/CSA 6.16
  • For appliance son casters, restraining devices are required.
  • Cooking oil storage containers must not exceed 120 gallons and must be properly secured against spills.
  • Cooking oil storage tanks must be listed for their use (e.g., UL 80, UL 142).
  • Individual-capacity, nonmetallic tanks must not exceed 200 gallons.
  • Cooking oil tanks must have normal and emergency venting capabilities.



  • Exhaust systems — including hood, grease removal, fans, ducts and other accessories — must be inspected and cleaned regularly.
  • Fire extinguishers must be recertified annually.
  • Automatic fire-extinguishing systems must be serviced every six months.
  • LP gas containers and fuel-gas piping systems must be inspected annually and labeled by an approved U.S. Department of Transportation inspection agency
  • CNG containers must be inspected every three years. Containers must not be used past the expiration date on their label.
  • The inspection agency must label the fuel gas system or another part of the food truck with a tag indicating name of agency and date of inspection.
  • All electrical devices must be properly maintained.



  • The maximum aggregate capacity of LP gas containers used in food trucks is 200 pounds.
  • LP gas containers must be securely mounted and restrained.
  • LP gas containers must meet NFPA 58 requirements for design compliance.
  • The maximum aggregate capacity of CNG containers transported by the vehicle is 1,300 pounds of water capacity.
  • Containers must be properly secured.
  • CNG containers must be NGV-2.
  • When CNG containers and system are used to supply fuel for cooking as well as transportation, they must be installed in accordance with NFPA 52.
  • Piping for LP gas systems, including valves and fittings — must be protected from tampering, impact damage and damage from vibration.
  • The vehicle must have a listed LP gas alarm in the vicinity of the LP gas components, in accordance with manufacturer instructions.
  • All CNG components and system piping must be safe from tampering, damage and impact during transportation and use.
  • Vehicles using CNG must have a methane alarm.



All mobile food trucks are subject to fire inspections.

  • Inspections for business and peddler’s licenses must be done by appointment at the commissary site indicated on the application within the City of Columbia.
  • Food trucks that do not comply will have 30 days after an inspection to do so.
  • Compliant food trucks will be issued a sticker (to be displayed in a prominent location at or near the service window) and recommended for business or peddler’s license approval.
  • Copies of inspection orders and reports must be kept in a safe place inside the food truck for review.


Other codes and standards not listed above may also apply. All licensed food trucks must be registered through the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles and meet S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control requirements.

You can find more information on these new requirements by visiting the National Fire Protection Association’s website.

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Increase in cooking-related fires expected during Thanksgiving Holiday

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With many households across our area getting ready to fire up their stoves and turkey fryers for Thanksgiving Day, Columbia Richland firefighters want to stress the importance of USING CAUTION while you prepare your holiday feast.

“Each year Thanksgiving Day is the leading day of the year for home fires involving cooking equipment,” said Columbia Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “Furthermore the damages that can be produced when a turkey is deep-fried carelessly or incorrectly can be significant and life-changing. The simple way to keep that from happening is to remain alert and follow all safety guidelines while cooking.”

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reported that in 2017 fire departments across the U.S. responded to an estimated 1,600 home cooking fires on Thanksgiving, the peak day for such fires.

To help ensure your Turkey Day remains trouble free, here are a few safety tips:

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stove top so you can keep an eye on the food.
  • Stay in the home when cooking your turkey, and check on it frequently.
  • Keep children away from the stove. The stove will be hot and kids should stay 3 feet away.
  • Make sure kids stay away from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, gravy or coffee could cause serious burns.
  • Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks or bags.
  • Keep knives out of the reach of children.
  • Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.
  • Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children — up high in a locked cabinet.
  • Never leave a lit candle unattended nor sleep while candles are lit.
  • Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button.
  • If you have a small grease fire on your stovetop and decide to fight 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.

  • Keep a Class ABC Dry Chemical Fire Extinguisher handy in the event you have a growing grease fire.  NEVER use water to try to extinguish a grease fire. If you ever have doubts about fighting a small fire get out of your house and call 9-1-1.


The NFPA has discouraged the use of turkey fryers citing the extreme danger if they’re used improperly

If you choose to deep fry your turkey: 

  • Keep the fryer outdoors, on a level surface and at least 10 feet from all combustible materials; preferably on a hard surface such as a driveway.
  • Use an approved fryer. These have four legs, a built-in thermostat, and are stable. You should be easily able to measure the oil’s temperature while cooking it to prevent a fire.
  • Follow all instructions. Even before turning the fryer on, make sure to read all of the instructions. Be careful when choosing the right size, how to cook the turkey, and what kind of oil to use with it.

  • Thaw and dry out the turkey completely before frying!!
  • Never leave the turkey fryer unattended! As soon as you turn the fryer on, never leave it alone. Also remember to use insulated gloves instead of oven mitts; the gloves have more insulation.
  • Be careful of splashing oil! Make sure that the fryer is moved away from all combustible materials, including your property, grass, furnishings, etc.