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.
While the venting of the front windows of the main showroom allowed smoke to escape, it also provided more air to feed the fire.
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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.
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.
About the author
With more than two decades in the field, Chief Adam K. Thiel — FireRescue1's editorial advisor — is an active fire chief in the National Capital Region and a former state fire director for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Chief Thiel's operational experience includes serving with distinction in four states as a chief officer, incident commander, company officer, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter and rescue diver. He also directly participated in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tropical Storm Gaston and Hurricane Isabel.
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