The draft technical study on the 2007 Charleston, S.C., Sofa Super Store fire that was just released by the National Institute of Standards and Technology should be required reading for all fire service members.
In the draft report, after providing great detail on the fire characteristics that, among other things, led to the tragic deaths of nine Charleston firefighters, NIST makes a number of key recommendations with relevance to fire departments across the United States.
You can access the report and associated recommendations through the NIST Building and Fire Research Portal.
As you read the recommendations, note that several call for additional research into areas of critical importance for protecting firefighters nationwide.
Also, while you're on the portal, check out all the other important research NIST performs to enhance building and fire safety, including firefighter safety, across the country.
We all know that budgets are tight and the same is true, believe it or not, in the federal government.
Despite billions of dollars spent on research and development annually throughout the federal enterprise, federal fire programs through NIST and other agencies are not currently funded at a level sufficient to conduct this important additional research.
The result, frankly, is diminished progress toward achieving our collective goal of reducing fire-related fatalities, injuries, and property damage — including firefighter casualties — to a level befitting the greatest nation in the world.
One of the best ways to support this vital research is to read, review, and use the reports, studies, and other materials produced each year by the dedicated people in these federal agencies.
They're working hard for us and we owe it to them — as well as our fallen brothers and sisters — to learn from the results, lest we repeat our past tragedies.