Thirteen years ago, on June 18, Charleston, South Carolina fire fighters responded to a serious fire at the Charleston Sofa Super Store. Nine fire fighters who went inside to conduct an interior attack lost their lives in the line of duty when part of the structure collapsed and trapped them inside.
Those nine were: Louis Mulkey, Mike Benke, Melven Champaign, William Hutchinson, Rodney “Brad” Baity, James Drayton, Mark Kelsey, Michael French and Brandon Thompson.
“It’s difficult to believe that it has been 13 years six the loss of these brave men. Our job now is to honor their memory and their sacrifice by continuing to fight for safer on-the-job protocols and working conditions,” says IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger. “And at the annual IAFF Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial, we all have the opportunity to see their names etched on the wall and remember.”
The Sofa Super Store had no sprinkler system. Flames weakened the structure, causing it to collapse and trapping the nine inside. Fire fighters on the outside were unable to reach their trapped brothers in time to save them.
The land that once housed the Sofa Super Store was purchased by the City of Charleston and is now a city park. Memorial plaques have been placed in remembrance of the nine fire fighters who lost their lives.
Click here for the final incident report on the fire. It recommended increased training and updates to fire ground procedures and apparatus.