CFD firefighter writes book about Sofa Super Store fire

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- It's been more than six years years since nine firefighters were killed in the Sofa Super Store fire.

One firefighter who responded to the call said he still vividly remembers the day he pulled up to the scene.

"My role was to operate Engine 11," said David Griffin, a Charleston firefighter and training inspector. "[And] to get all the hand lines with water to the guys that were making entry into that building."

At the time, Griffin had just been promoted to assistant engineer.

"I was waiting for my first fire to pump an engine on a fire scene, where as before I had been inside buildings," he said.

The first fire Griffin responded to since his promotion was the one at the Sofa Super Store on June 18, 2007.

"It was hard for me to understand the complexity of what was going on that day," he said.{}

That night, nine firefighters got trapped inside and died.

"I went into a three- or four-year period of kind of darkness," said Griffin. "I was drinking a lot, taking a lot of pain killers, a lot of prescription drugs and I also got into mixed martial arts fighting. That was kind of my coping mechanism."

From there, Griffin said he changed his mindset and turned to research as a means of healing. He got a masters degree and Ph.D. and started to write a textbook.

"There's a lot of studies and there's a lot of reports written on that day on how we responded but unfortunately they are from people who weren't there that day," said Griffin. "They weren't here before the fire, they didn't feel the pain we felt and that really frustrated me."

Griffin conducted a research study on the firefighters who responded to the fire, as well as the changes made to the Charleston Fire Department in the years after the fire.

"We've done almost 20-30 years of change in only seven years," he said. "We look at the big picture now. We don't just see a burning building, we see the components, we see the fire load, we see the building construction and we see how many people we need inside that building."

Griffin's book is titled, "In Honor of the Charleston 9: A Study of Change following Tragedy". The book is 274 pages with five chapters ranging from background of organizational learning and crisis, to results and recommendations.

The textbook was released late November and has already ranked No. 8 on Amazon's research best sellers list.

Griffin said a portion of the book sales will go to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

Since April, Griffin has presented his research at 30 different locations.

This year, he is scheduled to speak at another 25 places.


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