A description of the fire
When speaking about the Charleston Sofa Superstore Tragedy, I would like to consider some basic aspects of the event, which occurred. So, first of all, it should be pointed out that the meaning of building and fire code enforcement is considered to be really great; however, illegal building additions require much more attention, as the outcome of the fire depended upon them.
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The tragic event took place on June 18, 2007. When fire crews “made entry into the building through the showroom, they initially found it to be clear. The crew around the back side of the building noticed that the fire was in the loading dock area and was threatening the showroom” (Sypen 6). Generally, one is to keep in mind that the problems appeared, because it was too hard to establish a water source.
When speaking about the key issues, which are related to the Sofa Super Store Fire, it is necessary to point out that on the one hand, the fire risk factors surpassed the allowable limits; on the other one, the area was a large property, so, the so-called potential for the fire was rather significant.
The area of fire origin
They say that the fire originated outside the loading dock. The smoking materials were placed there. According to the City of Charleston Post Incident Assessment and Review Team “a fire at this location could quickly spread to the loading dock via the crawl space under the wooden deck or through gaps between the sheet metal wall panels and the front of the deck” (84).
On the other hand, one is to keep in mind that there is also another assumption, according to which “the fire could also enter the loading dock through a large ventilation fan opening or through gaps around the sliding doors” (84).
A description of how and where the fire spread
According to the analysis, which was held in order to establish the areas of the fire extension, there is a need to point out that from the loading dock the fire was extended into the separate areas of the building. Thus, these areas included the holding room, the interstitial void space, the west showroom, and the warehouse.
An overview of fire control activities
When speaking about fire fighting tactics, one is to keep in mind that the most important reasons of failure were inaccessibility of vertical ventilation, the sides of the loading dock, and inappropriate hose lines for the area. On the other hand, the fact that the command officers were unfamiliar with the building should also be taken into consideration.
Thus, the key reasons of the officers’ failure seem to be the complex building configuration (the fire-fighters did not know), ignorance of the specific locations (so, there was no opportunity for the officers to say for sure what areas the fire could extend from), finally, the fire-fighters could not determine fire walls.
The number and type of fire fighting and emergency resources utilized at the scene
Two 1-1/2 inch preconnected hose lines, the additional 2-1/2 inch hose line, the two 1-1/2 inch attack lines, two additional 2-1/2 inch hand lines were used. The City of Charleston Post Incident Assessment and Review Team state that “the Incident Commander also had the option of activating a local repeater system that allowed portable radios at an incident scene to communicate in simplex mode, while relaying their communications to the trunked system through a vehicle mounted repeater” (112).
A description of the incident command system utilized at the incident starting with the initial ICS and ending with the final ICS
Generally, the findings, which were related to incident command, covered the following issues:
- as far as the operations were controlled by the Fire Chief and the Assistant Chief, the team of the fire fighters under their direction worked in the main showroom;
- taking into account the fact that there was no vertical ventilation, the front windows had to be broken;
- “at the loading dock, the Fire Chief held back fire teams from re-entering” (Bryner et al. 10);
- when the lives of the trapped employees were out of danger, the decision was made to evacuate the construction.
A description of what you think the reasons were for the loss of firefighter’s lives
In my opinion, the fact that the fire-fighters were unfamiliar with the complex building configuration was the key reason for the loss of their lives. As far as their bodies were found in the main and west areas of the building, one can make a conclusion that “they were searching for ways out of the building when they either ran out of air or became incapacitated by the rapidly growing fire” (“The City of Charleston Post Incident Assessment and Review Team” 81). Because of the heavy smoke, the fire-fighters lost their way.
Bradford Rodney “Brad” Baity, Theodore Michael Benke, Melvin Edward Champaign, James “Earl” Allen Drayton, Michael Jonathon Alan French, William H. “Billy” Hutchinson, III, Mark Wesley Kelsey, Louis Mark Mulkey, and Brandon Kenyon Thompson lost their lives.
Bryner, Nelson, Stephen Fuss, Bryan Klein and Anthony Putorti. Technical Study of the Sofa Super Store Fire – South Carolina, June 18, 2007, 2011. Web.
Sypen, Daniel. The Charleston Sofa Super Store Tragedy: The Importance of Enforcing Building & Fire Safety Codes, 2010. Web.
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“The City of Charleston Post Incident Assessment and Review Team.” Cuny.edu: 2008. Web.