Unattended Grease Pot Burns S.C. Fire Station

June 18, 2013
The Columbia chief says he's mulling whether to discipline a firefighter who left a pot of grease on a stove to answer a call. The ensuing fire caused $20K damage.

June 18--COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Columbia fire chief Aubrey Jenkins said Tuesday he has reached no decision on whether to discipline the firefighter who left an unattended pot of grease on a fire station stove Monday night, causing $20,000 worth of damage.

"I'm sure he's embarrassed and won't do it again," said Jenkins, who didn't identify the firefighter.

Jenkins said the fire illustrates the value of a sprinkler system, without which he said the fire would almost certainly have done hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage.

As it was, about $20,000 worth of smoke and water damage was done in the kitchen at Station 1, 1800 Laurel St., before sprinklers kicked in, keeping the blaze contained until firefighters arrived on the scene.

All firefighters and trucks at the station were away, responding to alarms caused by a sudden thunderstorm passing through the area, Jenkins said.

In his haste to help others, the firefighter left the station without turning the stove off, Jenkins said.

Jenkins said he knows some might criticize the department for the incident, but said it shows firefighters are human, too, and everyone must take care not make careless mistakes.

"A fire can happen anywhere, and a fire station is not immune," he said.

The fire department was open about the incident, putting out a news release Monday night, several hours after fire was out.

"We report on everything else," Jenkins said, "so we are honest when we make mistakes."

Copyright 2013 - The State (Columbia, S.C.)

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