Master plan underway for new Charleston 9 memorial
CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A new design for the Charleston 9 memorial is in the works as the City of Charleston develops a master plan ahead of the 10-year anniversary.
City spokesman Jack O'Toole said the city is consulting with the families of the nine fallen firefighters on a design that will work for them.
"It's a process that we're actively working on," O'Toole said.
On June 18, 2007, fire ripped through a West Ashley furniture store, killing nine Charleston firefighters, later becoming remembered as The Charleston 9.
"At the time of the fire I worked for St. Andrews Fire Department and responded to the fire," said Matthew Schneider, President of the Fire & Iron Motorcycle Club Station 28. "I knew all the guys as well."
Since 2015, members of Fire & Iron M.C. Station 28 in Charleston have worked on a service project to honor and remember those men.
"We came up with the idea of doing a memorial brick pathway," Schneider said. "It's right in line with the memorials you see at the national fire academy or state fire academy and other memorials around the country."
Schneider said the brick path will be part of the master plan the City of Charleston is working on with the families of fallen.
"One of the requests of the family is that this stays pretty much how it is, with some enhancements, but nothing being removed," Schneider said.
In March 2016 brick orders were opened, and as of April 2017 more than 320 bricks had been sold raising more than $40,000 for the project.
However, the goal is to sell approximately 10,000 bricks to get the walkways paved. So far the number sold would only fill in the flagpole area.
Two kinds of bricks are being sold: 4x8 with three lines for engraving at $100, and 8x8 with six lines of writing at $150.
"The money used to purchase the bricks goes towards the production of the brick that a company is handling out of Florida," Schneider said. "They produce the bricks, engrave them… and then will be shipped to us."
Schneider said the leftover money raised will be used to install the bricks including the purchase of construction materials and upkeep.
"This way another five or 10 years down the road we won't have to do another project to beautify this site again," he said.
Schneider added the group plans to sell these bricks for years to come like they do at the National Fire Academy.
"Once a year, the bricks they've sold up to that point, they'll lay in and install and just keep going on each year," he said. "That's what we plan to do."
So far the group has received orders locally and across the country.
"Other departments like Boston, New York City, different departments around the country that have had line of duty deaths, have purchased a brick in honor of the person who may have been lost in the line of duty," Schneider said.
The original plan was to have the bricks laid in time for the 10-year anniversary date, which falls on a Sunday this year.
The City of Charleston Fire Department has already started planning the 10-year commemorative ceremony at the former Sofa Super Store site.
The City of Charleston purchased the 2.5-acre site for nearly $1.9 million in 2008 and the site was turned into a memorial park that opened two years after the tragedy.
The fire caused the greatest single loss of firefighters since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
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