On Wednesday, the Post and Courier ran their latest article questioning City of Charleston fire policy following the June 18 Sofa Super Store fire that killed nine city firefighters. The gist of this one was that the city’s polyester suits were dangerous. The story has prompted a response from the Mayor Joe Riley today that implies the paper didn’t have its facts right — but the city is going to change the dress code anyway.

On Wednesday, August 29, 2007 the Post and Courier reported that a South Carolina OSHA official stated that the work uniforms that the City of Charleston Fire Department uses are not in compliance with State OSHA rules.  The City received a determination in 2004 that these uniforms were indeed in compliance with OSHA standards.  There has been no communication with the City since then, either written or verbal, to indicate otherwise.

I want to ensure that there is no question about the safety of our firefighters. Wednesday, I met with Chief Thomas and directed that we begin the process of acquiring new daily work uniforms.

But the best part is when the mayor gets all nostalgic about the polyester uniforms the department will be ditching.

The current uniform presents a crisp, professional appearance – the same reason our Army continues to use polyester uniforms.  Nevertheless, I believe it is important to allay any safety concerns with regard to these uniforms for our firefighters.


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