Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins Honored For 45 Years of Dedicated Service

The South Carolina General Assembly recognized Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins for 45 years of service to the City of Columbia and the State of South Carolina.

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(Columbia, SC) – Last week, the South Carolina General Assembly recognized Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins for 45 years of dedicated service to the City of Columbia and the State of South Carolina by presenting him with a concurrent resolution.  The resolution, introduced from Senate Chambers by State Senator Darrell Jackson and several members of the Richland County Legislative Delegation who stood with him, highlighted Chief Jenkins’ profound impact upon communities across the Midlands.  As Jackson noted in his introduction, “We are grateful for more than four decades of service that Chief Jenkins has devoted to the communities across the Midlands and for the countless people his service has impacted.”

A Columbia native, Chief Aubrey Jenkins is a testament to the power of dedication and hard work. A graduate of Eau Claire High School and the South Carolina Executive Institute, he earned his undergraduate degree in fire science from Columbia Southern University. His journey with the Columbia Fire Department (CFD) began in 1979 as a firefighter. Jenkins worked his way up through the ranks, serving as a relief fire equipment operator, a fire equipment operator, captain, battalion chief, and deputy chief before his appointment as fire chief in 2011. 

In its 121-year history, the CFD has only had eight fire chiefs.  When appointed Chief in 2011, Jenkins became the eighth and the first African American to hold this position.  As fire chief, he leads nearly six hundred Columbia Fire Department employees (CFD) employees, who serve out of thirty-two fire stations, including fourteen fire stations predominantly staffed by volunteer firefighters. 

By contractual agreement between the City of Columbia and Richland County, the Columbia Fire Department provides county-wide service and has jurisdictional cooperation with Richland County and five municipalities. In addition to providing fire protection to the Capital City, CFD is the sole provider of fire protection to the towns of Blythewood, Arcadia Lakes, Eastover, and Forest Acres, along with Richland County. CFD also has mutual aid agreements with two nearby military bases—McEntire Air National Guard Base and Fort Jackson.  The CFD also has mutual aid agreements with six surrounding counties.

Chief Jenkins’ contributions and efforts have garnered him a variety of awards during his career.  Earlier this year, he was honored by the Richland County Neighborhood Council (RCNC). Previous honors also include induction into the Columbia Housing Authority’s Wall of Fame and the American Red Cross Volunteer of the Year Award.  He has also received recognition and awards for his participation in after-school programs that teach first aid and mentor youth in the Columbia area.  Chief Aubrey Jenkins is a recipient of the Columbia Urban League’s Lincoln C. Jenkins Jr. Award and has been named South Carolina Public Safety Officer of the Year. Additionally, he was presented with a Life Saver Award from the City of Columbia for rescuing a baby from a burning building.

Among his most significant accomplishments was achieving the Class 1 ISO rating for CFD, the highest rating for local fire protection efforts based on ISO’s fire suppression rating schedule. He is the first and only fire chief in the Columbia Fire Department’s history to achieve this milestone.  Currently, Chief Jenkins serves as the co-chairman of the City of Columbia Grievance Committee and is certified as an Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) instructor, a South Carolina Fire Academy instructor, and an American Red Cross first aid instructor.          

Outside of work, Chief Jenkins is a member of the Progressive Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, where he serves as a deacon and past chairman of the brotherhood department. He and his wife, Vernell Trapp Jenkins, have two sons, Emanuel and Sheldon.

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