S.C. OSHA Fines Fire Department, Furniture Store Over Fatal Fire

Oct. 1, 2007
State officials with the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, Office of Occupational Safety and Health (S.C. OSHA) are levying

State officials with the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, Office of Occupational Safety and Health (S.C. OSHA) are levying fines against the Charleston, S.C.-based Sofa Super Store and the City of Charleston Fire Department for violating firefighter safety procedures after a deadly June 13 fire engulfed the store and killed the department's nine firefighters.

According to an OSHA investigation report released on Sept. 20, the Charleston Fire Department was fined $9, 325 for four violations, one of which was a willful violation for having a flawed command system that didn't ensure the safety of all firefighters in an emergency situation. In addition, the agency cited the fire department for not requiring its firefighters to wear body protection as well as the proper respiratory equipment.

The store was also cited for padlocking the exit doors on the front and the rear of the establishment and for not having the doors located between two showrooms in proper working order. In addition, the store also did not have the an emergency action plan in place for its employees and was fined $32,775 as a result.

According to the report, the nine firefighters became lost as they were battling their way through the blaze. When their air packs ran out of air, they died from smoke inhalation. The tragedy was dubbed by the Associated Press as “the nation's single worst loss of firefighters since the 2001 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center.”

Roger Yow, president of the Charleston Firefighters Association Local 61, criticized Charleston Fire Chief Rusty Thomas for not enforcing emergency response standards normally used by fire departments across the country as well as Charleston Mayor Joe Riley for allowing such violations to continue.

“This new report is significant because it's no longer just firefighters who claim the Charleston Fire Department is run in an unsafe manner,” Yow stated. “Now state officials also are condemning Chief Rusty Thomas's failed leadership, and Mayor Riley's blind allegiance to the chief is as unsafe as it is indefensible.”

At a press conference held on Sept. 20, Mayor Riley told reporters that city will be challenging the fines and accused OSHA of wrongly punishing the city.

Sponsored Recommendations

Free Webinar: ISO 45001 – A Commitment to Occupational Health, Safety & Personal Wellness

May 30, 2024
Secure a safer and more productive workplace using proven Management Systems ISO 45001 and ISO 45003.

ISO 45003 – Psychological Health and Safety at Work

May 30, 2024
ISO 45003 offers a comprehensive framework to expand your existing occupational health and safety program, helping you mitigate psychosocial risks and promote overall employee...

DH Pace, national door and dock provider, reduces TRIR and claims with EHS solution

May 29, 2024
Find out how DH Pace moved from paper/email/excel to an EHS platform, changing their culture. They reduced TRIR from 4.8 to 1.46 and improved their ability to bid on and win contracts...

Case Study: Improve TRIR from 4+ to 1 with EHS Solution and Safety Training

May 29, 2024
Safety training and EHS solutions improve TRIR for Complete Mechanical Services, leading to increased business. Moving incidents, training, and other EHS procedures into the digital...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of EHS Today, create an account today!