Remembering the Charleston 9

June 18 • 2021

Nine Charleston, South Carolina, fire fighters paid the ultimate sacrifice 14 years ago on June 18, 2007, while responding to a fire at the Charleston Sofa Super Store.

Louis Mulkey, Mike Benke, Melven Champaign, William Hutchinson, Rodney “Brad” Baity, James Drayton, Mark Kelsey, Michael French and Brandon Thompson went in to conduct an interior attack when part of the structure collapsed and trapped them inside. Fire fighters on the outside were unable to reach their trapped brothers in time to save them.

“This mission of the IAFF starts in front of a church, just like those churches in Charleston that celebrated our nine brothers who made the ultimate sacrifice on June 18, 2007,” says General President Ed Kelly. “That mission is to take care of their families and fight to prevent it from happening again. No matter how much time has passed, we will always take pause to remember these nine brave men and the sacrifice they made that day. We shall never forget our fallen.”

“My thoughts and prayers are with Charleston Local 61 members and the families of the nine who lost their lives that day,” says General Secretary-Treasurer Frank Líma. “We will never forget their sacrifice and their dedication to serving and protecting the citizens of Charleston.”

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.