Monday is a somber day at the Charleston Fire Department. It’s been 11 years since the department lost nine brothers in a fatal fire at the Sofa Super Store in West Ashley.
“It’s a difficult day for us,” said interim Fire Chief Joseph Roberts. “June 18th is always a hard day for our guys. Especially the guys who were on the job on June 18th of 2007. So it’s a tough day for the guys to work and there’s a lot of raw emotion and a lot is brought back up. But for the most part, the department does very well.”
“I don’t think it will ever get easier for the guys who were on the job during that time,” Roberts said.
Although he was not on duty that night, Roberts said the fire was about a mile away from his house and he rushed to the scene to help.
“Firefighters will always have calls that they will always remember and this is one of the calls that I will never forget about,” he said.
The fire department is hosting its annual memorial ceremony at the site on Savannah Highway. The site was converted to the Charleston 9 Memorial Park after the fire.
“It’s a chance for the local community, the families and the firefighting community to come together to pay their respects and honor the sacrifice that was made at the site,” he said.
Out of the tragedy came a learning experience that now helps other fighters stay safe on the job.
“All fire departments, we learn from incidents like Sofa Super Store,” he said. “Today thousands of firefighters throughout the nation, they study what took place at the Sofa Super Store. So it’s still being studied. Still lessons being learned.”
“These nine guys, they were doing their jobs. They gave their lives for the community and that is truly a noble calling,” Roberts said. “We want to let the community and let the families know that we will never forget the sacrifices the Charleston 9 made.”
The ceremony is at 7 p.m. The public is invited. Click here for more information on the Charleston 9.