fire-department-logoFrom the Desk of Fire Chief Chris Smith,

Welcome to the City of West Columbia Fire Department’s page. The West Columbia Fire Department is a career, urban fire department that is ready to respond to emergency calls 24 hours a day. The department provides fire protection to the City’s approximately 18,500 citizens in its 8.9 square miles. Our department takes pride in serving the citizens and visitors of the City of West Columbia. Personnel also take pride in themselves and their equipment. You will see the fire department personnel at the station and across the City, conducting training exercises to improve skills and preparing pre-fire plans in preparation of an emergency.

The mission of the West Columbia Fire Department is to meet the needs of citizens and visitors in the community with a courageous and prepared team of professionals for prompt assistance to save lives, protect property, and improve quality of life through education, prevention, and emergency response.

With a city district which includes residential and commercial occupancies, four main corridors that feed into Columbia, the beautiful Lower Saluda and Congaree Rivers, and a portion of both Interstates 26 and 20, the West Columbia Fire Department is prepared to provide fire protection, operation-technician level rescue service, emergency first responder medical care, and swift water rescue response.

Fire Prevention

A lot of our efforts in recent years have been geared to educating the public to prevent fires. We are doing this through a variety of ways. Speaking to civic groups, church groups, and children’s activities have been successful in reducing the number of serious fires in our area. We have a variety of classes that are provided to the public such as: puppet shows, that have been well received and present the fire safety messages in a manner that people of all ages enjoy, a smoke detector program, in which we place smoke detectors, at no charge, in the homes of people that otherwise would not be able to obtain them, and fire extinguisher classes. The smoke detector program is funded through the sale of the blue address signs that are visible throughout the city.

(803) 791-4440

610 N 12th St
West Columbia SC 29169

History of the Fire Department

The West Columbia Fire Department is possibly the oldest department in the city. It was first formed around the turn of the 20th century. According to Henry Anderson, Fire Chief from 1966 to 1975 and a volunteer for many years before becoming chief, the first fire station was located at the intersection of Norfolk Street and a back alley behind Mr. Red Peake’s house. The station consisted of a human-pulled hand pump. Fire equipment was moved to new quarters in 1908 when the City built a new building in the 400 block of Center Street that also housed City Hall.

The Police Department and jail were later located in a building next door. As with most small towns during this time, the firefighters were all volunteers. They were alerted to a fire by use of sirens mounted on buildings or utility poles throughout the city. When the sirens sounded, the men would leave their homes and/or jobs, go to the fire station to get the truck, (often having to push it up the hill and let it roll back to get it started), and then respond. Since the vast majority of the early residents worked at Mt. Vernon Mills, an alarm was mounted at the mill to alert workers. In 1960, the city built a new city complex that housed City Hall, the Police Department, and the Fire Department. At this time, volunteers still comprised the firefighting force. In 1964, City Council employed the first full time firefighters. Volunteer firefighters were still used to supplement the full time forces and the sirens were still used to alert volunteers and off-duty full time employees. This notification method eventually changed to a paging system operated by the department. In 1979, the department moved into its current location.

The station on Center Street was designed to hold four pieces of apparatus, but was packed with six. The new station was designed to hold all of the current equipment with room for growth. In 1980, the city moved from a combination department to a total career department with the hiring of six full-time personnel, bringing the staff to a total of twenty-one. Staffing now consists of twenty-five personnel.