Final report confirms causes of deadly sofa store fire

March 21, 2011

Gaithersburg, MD – The National Institute of Standards and Technology recently released its final report on the sofa store fire that killed nine firefighters in Charleston, SC, in 2007 – the deadliest single event for firefighters since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Released March 15, the 220-page report (large .pdf file) and its appendices (large .pdf file) are available in separate volumes. The final report does not make any major changes to a draft report released in October that concluded the fire rapidly spread due to large open spaces, a lack of sprinklers and air rush created by broken windows. Rather, it features clarifications and supplemental texts based on comments provided during a comment period for the draft report, according to an NIST press release.

Among the report’s 11 recommendations:

  • State and local authorities should develop guidelines on how and when to implement ventilation during a fire, and should train firefighters on different types of ventilation.
  • National model codes should be created to require sprinkler systems for all new commercial retail furniture stores and existing stores larger than 190 square meters, and state and local authorities should adopt those requirements.