Charleston mayor addresses release of sofa fire investigation emails



AUGUST 2, 2010

On Sunday, August 1, the Post & Courier printed a story regarding conversational emails between various members of the Fire Review Team that the City hired immediately after the tragic Sofa Super Store Fire.

What is important and should be the focus of our energy is the progress which has been made in the fire department since the Sofa Super Store Fire and what has been done to create the excellent fire department we have.  Immediately after the fire, we set out to gather a team of experts who could analyze what we needed to do to prevent such an occurrence ever again.

When the team came in, we promptly acted on their recommendations, some of which were given shortly after their arrival here. We have continued to implement the recommendations given by our team of experts. We have a new chief, Chief Thomas Carr, who has been a change agent, listening to the firefighters, implementing important changes and leading the department through a difficult time.  We have taken great pains to implement the Team's recommendations including:


In 2007, there were 246 sworn personnel

Today, there are 295

New Positions

2 Deputy Chiefs

1 logistics Officer

1 Safety Officer

3 Training captains

1 Public Information Officer

2 Admin Assistants

1 Budget Analyst

1 HR Coordinator

36 New FF positions

3 Additional Captains

3 Additional Engineers

4 person staffing on all apparatus (one of very few in the State) in compliance with NFPA 1710. 

New Equipment and Procedures

New 45 minute SCBA (Breathing apparatus)

New PPE (turnout gear) chosen by committee.

New Station Uniforms

New Large Diameter supply hose and appliances

Rapid Intervention kits

New extrication equipment

Thermal Imagers for all apparatus

Gear lockers for PPE in all stations

Diesel Exhaust extraction systems in all stations

Lapel microphones and portable radio straps for all personnel

Positive pressure ventilation fans for all ladder companies.

4 new pumpers (designed by committee and fully equipped)

New Light and Air truck

Command and safety vests

New Accountability system and boards

New promotional process and hiring process

Standard SOP for safe structural firefighting being used regionally.

Cooperative response with regional fire departments

Consolidated dispatch

New Command vehicle


Officer Candidates School

Career development expectations for all positions

Command Officer training

Rapid Intervention training

Incident Command training

New hires training consists of 20 weeks with FF1, FF2 and EMT certificates

Working towards FF2 certification for all incumbents

Behavioral health

Firefighter Support group established

Internal Peer Support team

We will not forget the sacrifice those brave nine men made.  I will continue to concentrate on what we need to do for our firefighters, their families and our citizens.

As I have said many times, the legacy of this tragic fire should be that the Charleston Fire Department rightly be seen as a national leader in fire service response and safety.