Columbia and Richland Leaders Join Forces to Promote a Swim Safety Program

Columbia Fire, Sheriff’s Department, Recreation Commission, and Coroner

Host Swim Safety Event

Saturday July 15th 9:00am – 12:00pm

St. Andrews Park Eastover Park

 Because Columbia and Richland County officials believe that even one drowning death is one drowning death too many, the Columbia Fire Department, Richland County Sheriff and Coroner, as well as the Richland County Recreation Commission are joining forces to present the “Swim Safe” safety day.

Lifeguards and other qualified instructors will be available to help teach water safety and safe swimming practices. This instruction is free and being offered at St. Andrews Park (920 Beatty Rd. Columbia, SC 29210) & Eastover Park (1031 Main St. Eastover, SC 29044) on Saturday July 15th from 9:00am – 12:00pm.

Chief Jenkins says, “After responding to five drowning incidents in the previous weeks, we felt it necessary to reach out to the community and offer assistance by helping people get the instruction necessary to be safe in and around the water”.

Come by one of the above mentioned “Swim Safe” events this Saturday to learn how to keep yourself, your family, and your friends safe on the water this summer.

Columbia (SC) Firefighters Pull Victim from House Fire

Fatal House Fire

Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins stated that crews from the Columbia Fire Department responded to a residential structure fire shortly before midnight last night (7/5/17) at 1300 block of Lyon Street.  As units approached, heavy smoke was visible from the front of the residence.  As crews forced entry into the home a patient was located and taken outside to Richland County EMS for care.  The patient was transported to an area hospital, but later died. 

Richland County Coroner’s Office is investigating the cause of death and will release those findings along with the victim’s name later.

The cause of fire is currently under investigation by the Columbia Fire Investigators with assistance from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.

Damage to the residence is significant. 

Columbia Fire Chief & Richland County Coroner Release Details on Teenager Drowning


Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins and Richland County Coroner Gary Watts released the details concerning the overnight incident at Lake Carolina involving a teenage victim.

Richland County Coroner Gary Watts stated that the male victim has been positively identified as, Elias Pierre of Deer Harbor Court, Columbia, SC 29229 with a DOB: 9/24/2001.  Coroner Watts stated that the autopsy has been completed and Pierre died as a result of asphyxia due to fresh water drowning.

Columbia Fire Department and Richland County EMS were dispatched at approximately 6:30pm last night (Tuesday, June 27th) to a water rescue on Lake Carolina at the bridge on Lake Carolina Boulevard in the Lake Carolina subdivision.  As first units arrived on scene witnesses reported that Pierre was last seen in the water in distress and then went under and did not surface.  CFD requested resources from Richland County Sheriff’s Department (RCSD) and South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR).  Divers from RCSD & SCDNR began their search for the victim in an area nearest the bridge. 

As crews began to discontinue their search for the night due to safety reasons, divers discovered the victim.

Chief Jenkins and Coroner Watts strongly encourage all citizens to learn how to swim, as the best thing anyone can do to stay safe in and around the water is to learn to swim–this includes adults and children. But even if you know how to swim to always have a properly fitted personal flotation device (PFD)/lifejacket on if you are in or around water. They also encourage you to follow these other safety tips:

  • Tell someone where you are going, when you expect to return, and let that person know you have safely returned.
  • Fish, swim, or wade below dams only during low-flow periods.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and plan a quick exit from the water to the nearest bank in case of an emergency.
  • Be prepared for extremes in weather. Know early signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and dehydration in hot weather.
  • Try to avoid beer and soft drinks as they tend to dehydrate the body and alcohol impairs judgment.
  • If boating, be sure your skills and experience are equal to the water you are boating on.

Fourth of July Fireworks Safety



Fireworks can result in severe burns, fractures, or scars or disfigurement that can last a lifetime.

Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins encourages you this holiday weekend to be safety minded when it comes to fireworks. Amateur fireworks use endangers not only the users, but also bystanders and surrounding property and structures. Pyrotechnic devices ranging from sparklers to aerial rockets cause thousands of fires and serious injuries each year. Fireworks can result in severe burns, fractures, or scars or even death or disfigurement that can last a lifetime. The thousands of serious injuries each year typically harm the eyes, head, or hands, and are mostly reported in states where fireworks are legal. Even sparklers, which are considered by many to be harmless, can reach temperatures of 1,200° F.

The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) reports that fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires per year, including 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, and 16,900 outside and other fires. These fires caused an average of three deaths, 40 civilian injuries, and an average of $43 million in direct property damage.  

In 2015, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 11,900 people for fireworks related injuries; 51% of those injuries were to the extremities and 41% were to the head. Children younger than 15 years of age accounted for one-quarter (26%) of the estimated 2015 injuries.

The safest alternative to using amateur fireworks are public fireworks displays, such as Lake Murray’s 4th of July Celebration ( and the Lexington County Peach Festival (

But if you do decide to use amateur fireworks, Chief Jenkins recommends following these fireworks safety tips:

 Fireworks Safety Tips:                                                      

  • Always read and follow labeled directions.
  • Have an adult present at all times.
  • Never allow children to play, hold or light fireworks.
  • Only buy from licensed/permitted dealers.
  • Always have water close (a garden hose or a bucket).
  • Keep fireworks that are not being used, covered to protect them from accidental fallout from the fireworks display.
  • Never throw or point fireworks at other people.
  • Never re-light a “dud” firework.
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket.

6th Annual Carolina Brotherhood Ride

Cycling across NC and SC to support those lost in the Line of Duty

WHAT: Local public safety cyclists will conduct their Annual Carolina Brotherhood Ride

Load out Day: Sunday June 11, 2017 at 9:00am – Riders meet up at Charlotte Fire Training Academy, pack, load up and drive to starting point (Smithfield NC) – Media Availability

Ride Dates: Ride begins Monday morning June 12th in Smithfield NC and ends Sunday afternoon June 18, 2017 in Beaufort SC with stops along the way (listed in detail on next page).


The Carolina Brotherhood Ride is an annual cycling event made up of firefighters, police officers and emergency medical personnel from the Carolinas (both North and South Carolina). We ride in the name of our fallen brothers and sisters from the Carolinas. This year we’re pedaling 625 miles from Smithfield NC to Beaufort SC over a 6 day period to provide emotional and financial support for the families of those Carolina heroes who have lost their lives in the line of duty. The 2017 ride will honor our Brothers and Sisters lost in the line of duty in 2015. This year we ride for 19 public safety heroes (10 firefighters, 8 law enforcement and 1 EMS). A special note this year, 3 of the 19 we’re riding for are Police Canines who were killed in the line of duty. We build awareness and appreciation of the sacrifice these extraordinary individuals have made, and seek to honor their memory.



Day 1, 6/12/17 – Smithfield to Southern Pines, 78.6 miles

Leaving from: Smithfield Fire Department

Rest Stops: Benson FD, Harnett County Emergency Services, Spout Springs FD, Cypress Pointe Fire and Rescue

Overnights: Smithfield Baptist Church (6/11) the NCAG Armory (Southern Pines, 6/12)

Day 2, 6/13/17 – Southern Pines to Locke FD (Salisbury), 104 miles

Rest Stops: Seven Lakes FD, Troy FD, Stanly County National Guard Base, Rockwell Rural Station 51, Locke Township Fire Department

Overnight: Grace Lutheran Church

Day 3, 6/14/17 – Locke, NC to Cowpens, SC, 112 miles

Rest Stops: Kannapolis Station 5, Huntersville Station 1, Lowell VFD Station 17, Kings Mountain Fire Department, Blacksburg, SC Fire Department

Overnight: Spartanburg Community College Downtown, Spartanburg, SC

Day 4, 6/15/17 – Cowpens to Anderson, 82 miles

Rest Stops: Reidville Fire Department, Bon Secours Wellness Arena (Greenville FD host), Liberty Police Department, Sandy Springs Fire

Overnight: Anderson Civic Center

Day 5, 6/16/17 – Anderson to Columbia, 121 miles

Rest Stops: Due West, SC, Greenwood Fire Station 1, Saluda FD, Batesburg-Leesville FD

Overnight: Dreher High School

Day 6, 6/17/17 – Columbia to Beaufort, 127 miles

Rest Stops: Sandy Run FD, Orangeburg Fire, Branchville Fire, Colleton County Fire Station 18, Colleton County Fire Station 13

Overnight: Burton Fire Department

The 2015 Names of the Fallen to be Honored.


2017 Carolina Brotherhood Route

Memorial Holiday Grilling Safety


Columbia Fire Department wishes you a fire safe Memorial Holiday

Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins encourages citizens to be fire safe during the Memorial Day Holiday. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that three out of five households own a gas grill, which means a lot of great food and family times. But, it also means there’s a notable risk of home fires. From 2009 – 2013, an annual average of 8,900 home fires involved grills, hibachis or barbecues, and almost half of all grilling injuries involved thermal burns. Although many (nearly half) of grillers do so year-round, grilling fires peak in July, followed by May, June and August.

Chief Jenkins states you can have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Holiday by using good judgment and observing these grilling safety tips:

  • Never operate grills and other open flame cooking devices on combustible balconies and decks or within 10 feet of a structure
  • Set up the grill in open area away from low hanging tree limbs, dry leaves, and brush
  • Check hoses and propane tanks for leaks
  • Make the area around the grill a no play zone
  • Avoid wearing long hanging clothes
  • Never grill inside of garages and carports
  • Do not use deep fryers on decks
  • If you use a charcoal grill, purchase the proper starting fluid.
  • If you must dispose of the ashes before fully cooled, soak them completely in water before putting them in a non-combustible container.


Battle of the Badges Blood Drive Heats Up

The Columbia Police Department, Columbia Fire Department and Richland County Sheriff’s Department are challenging each other — and the community — to give blood at the sixth annual “Boots and Badges” blood drive. Donors are needed to give blood and vote for their favorite department – all in an effort to help save lives.

The Battle of the Badges event comes just before the critical Memorial Day holiday weekend, a time when blood donations decline because of holiday travel and events. The Red Cross is calling on donors to honor their community heroes by being a hero to a patient in need. Each pint of blood donated can help save up to three lives.

The department with the most votes at the end of the drive is named the winner. But the real winners are the many patients who will be helped by the blood collected.

Columbia Boots and Badges Blood Drive

Friday, May 26

7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

 Charles Drew Wellness Center

2101 Walker Solomon

Columbia SC 29201


Columbia Place Mall – Center Court

7201/ BU 650 Two Notch Rd.

Columbia SC 29223

All presenting donors at the Boots and Badges blood drive will receive a free Boots and Badges T-shirt and $10 Visa gift card, courtesy of Suburban Propane while supplies last. Call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767), use the Blood Donor App and enter sponsor code: B&B or click here to schedule your appointment today.

boots and badges flyer

Over 100 Incidents During 4 Hour Period of Severe Weather

Columbia Fire Department responded to over 100 incidents in a four our period during Wednesday’s severe weather that caused flooding and damage to areas in the City of Columbia and Richland County.  Chief Jenkins stated, “Columbia Firefighters responded to multiple incidents to include 26 water rescues, eight areas with reported large flooding, multiple downed or arching power lines, four elevator rescues, over 20 medical calls, multiple motor vehicle accidents, over 30 fire alarm activation and one rescued dog.

As weather forecasters are predicting non-severe thunderstorms over the next several hours with additional rainfall projections from 0.50″-0.75″, Chief Jenkins encourages motorists to remain off the roadways out of precaution but if must be out be aware of flooded roads, down power lines, trees and debris.”


River Safety Awareness

CFD encourages visitors on our rivers to be safe

The Columbia Fire Department began its annual swiftwater rescue training exercises on the Saluda River below the Riverbanks Zoo; in anticipation of another busy summer on our many river ways in the Midlands.

The Columbia Fire Department responds to multiple water rescues each year involving reports of persons in distress, trapped on a river island/sandbar, capsized watercraft, etc.; and those numbers increase as the warmer weather approaches.

“As summer activities on and around the rivers in the Midlands increases we want to encourage visitors to be safe as they enjoy all the recreational activities that the rivers have to offer”, stated Chief Jenkins.

Columbia Firefighters responses to approximately 30 swiftwater rescues each year; that average is not including the large increase from the October 2015 Flood.

Chief Jenkins thanks our many partners, such as SCE&G who increases the water flow which provides the necessary water levels and conditions for firefighters to complete their swiftwater training each year. This training supports the Department’s commitment to providing well trained and equipped personnel to be able to respond to any water rescue incident.

Chief Jenkins encourages visitors to the rivers to follow these safety tips:

Learn to swim. The best thing anyone can do to stay safe in and around the water is to learn to swim–this includes adults and children.
Tell someone where you are going, when you expect to return, and where to call if you don’t.
Wear a properly fitted Personal Flotation Device (PFD) at all times when you are in or near the river.
Be prepared for extremes in weather. Know early signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and dehydration in hot weather.
Reduce threat of injury by wearing protective footwear and proper clothing.
Fish, swim, or wade below dams only during low-flow periods.
Be aware of your surroundings and plan a quick exit from the water to the nearest bank in case of an emergency.
Move to a safer area immediately if a siren sounds or strobe lights flash or if you simply notice the river level rising.
Carry a first aid kit and know how to use it. Take a cell phone in case of emergency.
Be sure to take water or thirst-quenching drinks. Try to avoid beer and soft drinks as they tend to dehydrate the body and alcohol impairs judgment.
Be sure your boating skills and experience are equal to the river and the conditions.
Do not litter.

If you are caught in surging water

Any moving water can be dangerous. If you are caught in the water and swept off your feet, remember the following:

Drop any items that can weigh you down.
Stay calm, lie on your back, and keep your feet up and pointed downstream to avoid rocks and foot entrapment.
Swim on your back with the current and then diagonally across the stream until you reach the shore.
Do not attempt to stand up until you are in shallow, slow-moving water.
If you get trapped on an island, stay there and signal for help.