In the confusing and emotional days following the Sofa Super Store blaze that took the lives of nine firefighters, Chief Rusty Thomas told the local press that the city wouldn’t fight fires any differently. The message was a bit different from Mayor Joe Riley’s promise to make sure lessons were learned from the fire, and the veteran chief eventually changed his tune. Months later, when a report by an independent review team found more than 200 recommended changes for the department, Thomas seemed like the most enthusiastic supporter. “It’s the beginning of a new day for Rusty Thomas and the Charleston Fire Department,” he said.

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