NIOSH Report Calls For National Shift In Firefighting Standards

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In some of the most pointed language yet in studies of the 2007 Sofa Super Store blaze that killed nine Charleston firefighters, a new report calls for a change in state and federal firefighting standards and implores departments everywhere to take note of the fatal lessons learned at the West Ashley store.

There weren’t any surprises in the final report from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Problems in staffing, coordination, and equipment have been highly publicized in the past and the department says it has already taken strides to address those issues.

But every NIOSH recommendation is directed at “fire departments” in the plural. Fire Chief Thomas Carr says it’s standard practice for all 35,000 U.S. departments to use these incident reports as manuals for changes in their own departments.

“This provides a good opportunity for departments across the nation,” Carr says. “Everyone pays attention to every one of these reports. They can take lessons from them no matter how far away you are.”

One recommendation calls for federal and state agencies to improve regulations regarding the safety of firefighters.

“Firefighters have a high rate of injury and death compared to other occupations, yet federal and state regulations addressing the risks of firefighting are sparse,” the report states.

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