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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.

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CRFD Reminding Citizens to Exercise Caution While Using Fireworks

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The 2021 July 4th Weekend is likely to bring a spike in family parties and community gatherings as more and more restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be lifted.

Keeping that in mind the Columbia-Richland Fire Department is once again encouraging area residents to use extreme caution and attentiveness if they plan to set off consumer fireworks.

“Every year the fact remains the same that there is an inherent risk and danger to using consumer fireworks,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “While we don’t want to discourage people from buying fireworks for use at their family parties and cook outs, we do want to stress the importance of following all safety instructions on what you buy. Not doing so could place you and your loved ones at greater risk of suffering a fireworks-related injury.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) more than 19,500 fires are started by fireworks annually. Sparklers alone can burn at 1200 degrees Fahrenheit and account for roughly one quarter of emergency room fireworks injuries.

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.

Finally PLEASE keep your neighbors and the overall peace of your neighborhood in mind before you set any fireworks off!

The City of Columbia does have an ordinance against ‘unreasonably loud, disturbing or unnecessary noise.’ Fireworks can be found to be in violation of that ordinance if they are deemed a nuisance. Any city resident who has concerns over fireworks being set off should contact the Columbia Police Department.

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. DO NOT grill on your deck!
  • 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.
  • Always have a fire extinguisher handy in case of an emergency.

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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10 CRFD Firefighters Recognized for Promotions

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In late June the Columbia Richland Fire Department recognized 10 members of our staff who recently earned promotions.

A series of pinning ceremonies were held at CRFD Headquarters. Each honoree was allowed to invite a limited number of guests to watch them receive their new badge from Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins.

The department congratulates the following staff members for taking the next step in their fire service careers.



Michael Driggers


Fire Captain

Christopher Byrd                Jason Grande                Daniel Leyden

Paul Morris                          Bobby Philips                Daniel Scoggins


Battalion Chief

Christopher Branham                     Gregory Harrell                        Lorenzo Spell

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Columbia-Richland Fire Department Once Again Named a ‘Fire Safe South Carolina’ Community

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For the second year in a row CRFD’s fire prevention work in our communities has earned the department statewide recognition.

Fire Safe South Carolina recently named CRFD a ‘Fire Safe South Carolina’ community for the year 2020. In all 80 fire departments in 33 Palmetto State counties were recognized.

“I am incredibly proud of our department for earning this honor for the second year in a row,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “It is a true testament to the many men and women we have who work to prevent fires and other emergencies in our communities. Arming our citizens with knowledge is the best tool we have to keep people safe. I applaud our CRFD members on their commitment to that mission.”

For Fire Safe South Carolina, designated communities continually work to reduce fire-related injuries in our state, thereby decreasing the risks for residents and firefighters. They also promote consistent fire safety messaging and stress the importance of providing all relative data collected at fire scenes.

“The enthusiasm for obtaining this designation continues to grow, and we remain encouraged by active participation,” Community Risk Reduction Chief Josh Fulbright said. “We congratulate the 80 designees and, even with the pandemic, are excited to see a 40 percent increase from last year.”

Despite challenges associated with the pandemic, it is clear these fire departments continue to provide fire and life safety information to their local citizens.

Specifically, FSSC-designated communities took creative as well as virtual approaches to community risk reduction and documented outreach educational opportunities for nearly 55,000 citizens. In response to COVID-19 the Columbia-Richland Fire Department began using virtual video conferencing programs to carry out many duties of the fire prevention office during 2020. This included conducting virtual fire safety inspections, home safety surveys and smoke alarm installations.

Over the course of 2020 CRFD fire prevention staff conducted 21 virtual fire education presentations as well as 106 virtual home fire safety surveys. The department also maintained its community presence by taking part in 146 parades during the year. Deputy fire marshals also conducted more than 2,100 fire inspections in 2020.

Additionally, more than 1,300 fire service members were trained through the Community Risk Reduction curriculum, and more than 80 fire departments were represented during the annual Life Safety Education Conference.

Fulbright acknowledges the program is effective because of its dedicated community partners.

“With fire departments receiving more than 9,000 smoke alarms donated from their growing list of community partners, these relationships are an important part of this life-saving program.”

Launched in 2017, Fire Safe SC has many partners including the S.C. State Firefighters’ Association, the S.C. State Association of Fire Chiefs, and the S.C. Fire Marshal Association.

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2-Alarm Fire Damages 3 Homes in Richland County

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On Friday May 28, 2021 CRFD crews responded to a 2-Alarm fire that ripped through a home on Durham Creek Court, leaving it heavily damaged.

Firefighters responded to the scene shortly after 11 a.m. Friday. The first units arrived to find heavy fire spreading quickly throughout the home and threatening residences that were adjacent to it. This prompted officers on scene to call for a 2nd Alarm, which sent more resources to the scene.

By the time crews got the fire under control the house where the fire started was a total loss and the homes to each side of it were significantly damaged. Seven people were left displaced but thankfully no one was injured by the fire.

The cause of the fire is being investigated by the Richland County Fire Marshal’s Office.

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Fire department & RCSD form Marine Teams for holiday patrols on Lake Murray

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The approach of the summer season is expected to draw more and more area boaters out on the waters of Lake Murray for events and recreation. In order to provide added security and safety for citizens, the Columbia-Richland Fire Department (CRFD) is now working with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department (RCSD) to joint staff two RCSD boats during peak days of lake traffic.

These Marine Teams will patrol portions of Lake Murray to provide swift response for any  incidents that may require law enforcement or emergency medical care.

Joint press conference on May 26 announcing formation of CRFD/RCSD Marine Teams 

“We welcome the opportunity to partner with the Columbia-Richland Fire Department,” said Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott. “This partnership will expand the services that would be available to      citizens on the waterways. Adding medical emergency services to the security, search and rescue and recovery efforts we already provide will increase our ability to address all emergency calls.”

“I’m excited for this partnership with RCSD as both of our agencies support the same mission to keep our citizens safe,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “Every second     matters when a person is facing a medical emergency and if they’re out on the water getting access to them can be especially difficult. Reaching people in need of care will be significantly easier using these boats provided by the sheriff’s department.”

RCSD boats will be staffed by members of both agencies during the Memorial Day Weekend,        Independence Day Weekend and Labor Day Weekend as well as during large-scale boating events on Lake Murray such as Drift Jam Flotilla and the Reggaetronic Music Festival.

All firefighters and deputies working the boats have had training in swimming and boat operations.


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Prisma Health Doctors Pay Visit to CRFD Training Grounds

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The Columbia-Richland Fire Department was honored to once again host staff members from Prisma Health Midlands to give them an inside look at how firefighters respond to emergencies.

Doctors in residency at the hospital were invited to the CRFD training grounds on May 19 to take part in a session that focused on car accidents and how victims of them are aided by fire department personnel.


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May Brings New Round of Promotions at CRFD

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The Columbia-Richland Fire Department kicked off the month of May by recognizing our staff members who recently earned promotions.

CRFD Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins officially badged each firefighter during promotional ceremonies that took place at department headquarters. Each honoree was able to have guests in attendance and all attendees followed COVID-19 preventative guidelines.

The department would like to congratulate the following members of our staff who earned promotions to new ranks:


Fire Captain

Terri Hale



Volunteer Fire Captain

Eric Crane


Volunteer Fire Engineer

Orlando Devers

Richard Kneece Jr.

Bradley Siede

Michael Welker Jr.