Charleston Sofa Super Store Fire - Investigations - Charleston Panel

Charleston Panel

A panel of outside experts was convened by the City of Charleston to examine the city's fire department and its handling of the Sofa Super Store fire. The panel includes Gordon Routley, Kevin Roche, Tim Sendelbach, Brian Crawford, Mike Chiramonte, and Pete Piringer. Mayor Joe Riley stated that the panel's work will be divided into three parts. First, the team will conduct an "intense diagnostic analysis" of the fire department and its practices and procedures. The mayor has indicated this phase should only take about a month, and any recommendations will be acted on immediately. Second, the team will compile reports from local, state, and federal investigators into one report the city can work from. That phase is expected to last approximately four months. Last, the panel will create a long term strategic plan that will chart a future course for the city's fire department.

Brian Crawford, in an interview with KTBS-TV News said, "That report is going to lend so much information to other fire departments across the country who may be operating the same way that Charleston was. It may have them step back and look at their own organizations."

Moving with astonishing speed, the six person panel came out with a list of initial recommendations in less than a week. Speaking of the recommended changes, Gordon Routley said, "I think there are areas that are significant firefighter safety issues that, to us, need to be implemented as soon as possible."

The initial changes recommended by the panel include:

  • Establishing a Deputy Chief/Assistant to the Chief position
  • Establishing a Fire Department Safety Officer position
  • Establishing a Public Information Officer
  • Having a minimum of two dispatchers on-duty at all times
  • Maintaining a minimum staffing of three on-duty firefighters at all times on all existing engine and ladder companies
  • An incremental movement over two years to achieve four on-duty firefighters on all fire companies
  • Applying appropriate incident command procedures on all incidents
  • Reinforcing appropriate use of personal protective clothing and SCBA
  • Reinforcing the use of seat belts and standard emergency response vehicular operations
  • Ensuring that "2-in/2-out" is followed at all times
  • Developing management procedures for off-duty firefighters that respond to emergencies
  • Implementing Incident Command and tactical operations training for all officers
  • Providing training for firefighter safety and survival, risk management, air management, lost/disoriented firefighters, rapid intervention operations, objective-based tactical operations, and other critical firefighter safety procedures
  • Providing incident safety officer training for all command officers and health and safety officer training to selected personnel
  • Assuring that all new firefighters are trained and certified to the Firefighter II level before assignment to emergency duty, with South Carolina Fire Academy support
  • Increasing the initial response to a structure fire to three engines and a ladder, with the third engine as the Rapid Intervention Team (RIT)
  • Responding the Assistant Chief, a second Battalion Chief, a fourth engine company, and an ambulance to a confirmed working structure fire
  • Utilizing the second-arriving Battalion Chief as the Safety Officer unless a staff Safety Officer is already on scene
  • Eliminating 10-codes and use designated tactical channels for major incidents
  • Changing to large diameter supply hose
  • Using a minimum of 1½" hose for fire attack and standardizing nozzle configurations

Read more about this topic:  Charleston Sofa Super Store Fire, Investigations