Fire departments across the nation are spending this week inspecting furniture stores in their jurisdiction in memory of the local Sofa Super Store fire two years ago that killed nine Charleston firefighters. One of the criticisms of the local tragedy was a lax fire plan for the sofa store site and additions to the building that weren’t up to code.
Bill Timmons, President of the Monroe County, N.Y., Fire Marshals and Inspectors Association, came up with the national inspection drive to run from last Tuesday to the anniversary on June 18.
After seeing a presentation on the Charleston fire at a Maryland conference, then seeing the results of another furniture store fire in a small Pennsylvania town in May, Timmons knew he wanted to prevent something similar from happening again.
Participating fire marshals will inspect furniture stores, while fire department staff also visit stores and develop fire plans that account for unique site-specific concerns like exit locations, fire walls, potential hazards, etc.
An independent investigation of the tragedy at the sofa store suggested that the firefighters would have been better able to fight the blaze if they’d had a detailed fire plan on hand for the store.
“What better way to go out and do a bunch of work and dedicate that to the fallen firefighters so they know we haven’t forgotten about them,” Timmons says.
Charleston Fire Chief Thomas Carr says the local department is excited to take part.
“We’re going to get our hands on every store in the city,” he says.