The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has announced that it is beginning a technical study of the June 18, 2007, fire at the Super Sofa Store furniture store/warehouse in Charleston, S.C., that killed nine firefighters.
Within 36 hours of the fire, NIST had a reconnaissance team of fire experts on site to assess the situation and gather data about the fire as well as the subsequent collapse of the Super Sofa Store building. Based on that reconnaissance, NIST has determined that additional study is warranted.
The NIST team of fire experts has also participated, at the invitation of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), in interviews of the Charleston Fire Department personnel who witnessed the fire. The NIST team will use the interview data to establish a timeline for reconstructing the fire in a computer simulation, both for NIOSH's use and for further NIST research.
Other activities for the team could include:
A fire such as the one that occurred in Charleston raises a number of questions that, if answered, might serve as the basis for:
For example, NIST's study of a 1999 townhouse fire in Washington, D.C., resulted in a computer model that determined the cause of the rapid burst of flames up a stairway that claimed the lives of two firefighters. Based on the finding, District of Columbia Fire Department operating procedures were changed and the computer simulation is now used as a training tool nationwide.
NIST has more than 30 years of experience studying and investigating structural failures, including those as a result of fire, earthquakes and wind.
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