Charleston 9: Firefighter Brandon Thompson
CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Brandon Thompson was the youngest of the firefighters who died in the Sofa Super Store fire.
Thompson was 27 years old and wasn't supposed to be on duty the night of the fire.
Thompson had firefighting in his blood at an early age, starting his career in the fire service as a junior firefighter at the age of 14.
"His skin was as tough as an alligator," Thompson's father, Frank Thompson III, said. "He was much of a man, couldn't ask for anything better. He dedicated to what he was doing and loved it."
Thompson volunteered with the Pine Ridge Fire Department and became a captain there, working with his best friend, Chief Ben Waring.
"He was tough as nails, wasn't afraid to tackle any job that was ever given to him," Waring said.
Thompson was not scheduled to work the night of the Sofa Super Store fire. but filled in for a buddy who needed the day off.
Frank Thompson found out about the fire when he got a call from the Summerville fire chief.
"Asked if I was watching the news. I said no and he told me, he said I think Brandon's in the fire, so we came on down," Frank Thompson said.
Brandon was the final firefighter to be carried out of the building.
"We stood right there till the end. They worked together to bring each firefighter out. You couldn't ask for more respect. They honored them well," Frank Thompson said.
Rachel Cole was Thompson's fiancee' at the time of the fire. They were supposed to be married four months later.
"It changes your life forever and you can either take it and let it run you down or you can take it and let it change your life for the positive," Cole said.
Today, Cole is married with stepchildren. Cole decided to volunteer and give back to the people who were there for her after the fire.
"Really dove into the community to give back because there was such a giving from the community for us families when the tragedy happened," Cole said.
Waring was supposed to be Thompson's best man. Waring spoke to Thompson for the last time the morning of the fire.
"He said alright, well give me a call later on. I want to talk to you about some wedding stuff, never got to make that call again," Waring said.
Thompson's dedication and his death have not been forgotten.
The Pine Ridge fire station is now called the Brandon Thompson Fire Station. Part of Myers Road also is named in his honor.
"It's a long time, it's something you don't forget. It's there, but I'm proud of him," Frank Thompson said.
"Knowing what a loving and kind individual he was and how dedicated he was to this community to his family and to his friends, definitely how I would like him to be remembered for," Cole said.
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