Fifteen 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.
“As the saying goes, ‘All gave some; some gave all.’ Every June 18, we remember our nine brothers who gave all to protect the safety of others,” says General President Ed Kelly. “The best way we can honor their memory is to continue to push for safe building codes and resources to keep our brothers and sisters safe on the job. But today, let us all remember the names of the Charleston 9 and the sacrifice they made that day.”
“On this solemn anniversary, we pause along with Charleston Local 61 members to recognize their sacrifice and dedication of our nine lost brothers,” says General Secretary-Treasurer Frank Líma. “We keep them and their families in our prayers as we continue our fight to make our profession safer. May perpetual light shine upon the Charleston 9, their families, and Local 61.”
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.
Read the final incident report on the fire, which recommended increased training and updates to fire ground procedures and apparatus.