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NIST Releases Final Charleston Report

March 16, 2011 – The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has released its final report on its study of the June 18, 2007, fire at the Sofa Super Store in Charleston, South Carolina that trapped and killed nine fire fighters.

The final report is strengthened by clarifications and supplemental text based on comments provided by organizations and individuals in response to the draft report of the study, released for public comment on October 28, 2010 and posted on the IAFF web site

According to NIST, this final report does not alter the study team's main finding: that the major factors contributing to the rapid spread of the fire at the Sofa Super Store were large open spaces with furniture providing high-fuel loads, the inward rush of air following the breaking of windows and a lack of sprinklers.

NIST does recognize that shortages in staffing and deployed resources, as well as the management of available resources, were also major factors in the tragedy. NIST notes that for this type of high-hazard occupancy, NFPA 1710 advocates a minimum crew size of five to six members for each apparatus.

Based on its findings, the study team has made 11 recommendations for enhancing building, occupant and fire fighter safety nationwide.

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