The Columbia Fire Department recognizes Firefighters for “Of the Year” and Flood Joaquin Awards
Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins presented multiple awards to members of the Columbia Fire Department during their Annual CFD Family Weekend. An Awards Reception was held Friday night at the Medallion Center where the “Flood Joaquin and “Of the Year” awards were presented.
Chief Jenkins said, “This was a great night to honor our Firefighters for their exemplary work over the last two years and to also award those that went above and beyond their normal duties during the flood of October 2015.” Chief Jenkins continued to state, “The Columbia Fire Department exemplifies what the CFD stands for, to have the fortitude and bravery to push through the unknown in an attempt to rescue a victim.”
Also awarded during the reception were three civilians; Eddie Sharpe, Kenneth Erdel and Francis Shea who received the Captain Clarence B. Mitchel, Citizen’s Medal of Honor for the heroic actions taken during Flood Joaquin to assist the Columbia Fire Department.
Flood Joaquin was an event of a lifetime, a thousand year flood with a call volume to match it. During the first nine hours of the flood the CFD had over 751 calls for service, averaging 87 calls an hour. Some of the specific type of call for service and the approximate numbers:
- 412 Flooded Vehicles/Victim calls
- 222 Flooding Calls
- 98 Medical Responder Calls
- 48 Water Rescues
- 23 Collapse Structures / Tree on House
- 14 Reported Structure Fires
- On October 4, 2015, nine (9) firefighter MAYDAY’s were documented. Seven MAYDAY’s all occurred approximately between 0915 hours and 1015 hours.
- An estimated 187 rescues were executed.
- 464 citizens were transported to local shelters.
- 9 Fatalities occurred directly due to the flooding in Richland County.
- 349 Search personnel comprised 8 Task Force Teams.
- 619 Square miles of territory required searching.
- 8,200 structures were entered, searched, and cleared.
The Columbia Fire worked numerous operations during the flood; one lengthy operation that could have brought havoc to an already taxing event was the loss of water to the Palmetto Health Richland Hospitals (Palmetto Health Richland, Palmetto Baptist & Providence Health) which impacted critical diagnostic equipment and sanitary systems. As with this catastrophic water loss the hospitals would have had to completely evacuate each hospital but the CFD Incident Management Team interfaced with each of the hospital’s staff and established a water supply plan and was maintained for several days.
- Over 200,000 gallons of water were shuttled during the first operational period to including:
- 70,000 gallons of water were pumped into Palmetto Health Baptist in the first two hours of water shuttle operations.
- Palmetto Richland Hospital building engineers stated that over 50,000 gallons were delivered to within the first hour, and then sustained 5,000‐6,000 gallons an hour for several days. Over 130,000 gallons were delivered to PHRH the first night alone