Sofa Super Store Fire and Collapse
The United States currently depends on approximately 1.1 million fire fighters to protect its citizens and property from losses caused by fire. Of these fire fighters, approximately 313,000 are career and 823,000 are volunteers. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the U.S. Fire Administration estimate that on average, 100 fire fighters die in the line-of duty each year. In fiscal year 1998, Congress recognized the need for further efforts to address the continuing national problem of occupational fire fighter fatalities and funded NIOSH to implement a fire fighter safety initiative. On June 18th 2007 the fire occurred at the Sofa Super Store, which was composed of a single-story steel trussed showroom building with a warehouse building located behind the retail space. The building had no fire sprinkler system, which would have cost approximately $3 per square foot. The fire started at approximately 7:00 p.m. in a covered loading dock area built between the showroom and warehouse buildings which were attached to both buildings. At the time, the business was still open and employees were present. Charleston firefighters arrived on the scene just three minutes after the alarm, followed soon after by firefighters from the St. Andrews Public Service District. The initial attack focused on extinguishing the fire in the loading dock area, with a secondary effort to search for and evacuate civilians, and to prevent the fire from spreading to the showroom and warehouse. Crews entering the showroom reportedly initially encountered clear visibility with only very light puffs of smoke visible near the ceiling at the back of the showroom. Shortly thereafter, an exterior door was opened near where the fire was raging. Efforts to close the door failed, allowing the fire to enter the showroom. Firefighters were ordered to stretch two hose lines into the showroom to attack the spreading fire, however...
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