South Carolina Advisory: Experts Emails Allege Negligence In Handling Of Sofa Fire

South Carolina job injury attorneys urge all companies and services to do their best to follow important safety regulations and stay regular with innovations in technology. Dangerous work can often be made less risky by the use of innovative products and openness to new ideas and change. Charleston area attorneys honor the memories of the brave men who died in the fire and offer their condolences. It is hoped that by learning from these types of incidents, future incidents can be prevented.

In a release of emails from a panel that independently examined the Sofa Super Store Blaze, chief experts blasted the leadership of the City of Charleston and the Charleston Fire Department. Specific among their complains was the lack of modern firefighting techniques used by the department and allegations against the city of playing a “shell game” and trying to spin some of the information coming out of the fire. Mostly what was concluded in these emails was the deaths of 9 firefighters did not have to occur if proper techniques, modern technology and other measures that should have been taken by the Departments leadership had been implemented. As quoted in an email by one panelist to another “DAMN IT. This did not have to happen.”

The fire started at approximately 7pm on June 18th, 2007 at the Sofa Super Store located on the Savannah Highway. Fire Servicemen reported to the blaze roughly 3 minutes after the alarm was sounded. During the blaze, efforts to contain the fire were unsuccessful and the fire quickly spread from a backroom to the main room, igniting highly volatile furniture. Structural conditions quickly deteriorated, trapping some of the men. In an effort to get to trapped firemen, the windows were smashed which led to a “flash over”, which is the near instantaneous combustion of all flammable materials in a given area that occurs when oxygen is quickly introduced into an area where a fire has been enclosed. Sixteen firemen were working in the building when this occurred, some were trapped. By the end of the day, nine men had bravely given their lives fighting the fire.

In the subsequent investigation, the City of Charleston hired an independent panel made up of some of the fire service’s best and brightest. This panel in their report asserted that the CFD’s leadership had not followed federal safety code and had also been lax in upgrading their methods and technologies. It was apparent that during the conduct of the fire, some firemen were ill prepared (materially) or ill clothed to battle the blaze. Other complaints leveled was that proper techniques were used. The Chief investigator was quoted as writing “They missed out on about 40 years of fire service evolution”. Moreover, the report asserted that the Leadership in the CFD had been reluctant to implement important changes directly after the fire. Essentially, what was being put forth by the report and the release of these emails was that the firemen’s deaths were due to extremely tragic but avoidable circumstances.

Source: The Post and Courier, “Experts’ e-mails blast Riley, Thomas over Sofa Super Store fire Panel hired to probe Fire Department’s actions critical of leadership, tactics”, By Glenn Smith, August 1st, 2010

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