Charleston mayoral candidate calls for swift response to furniture store fire
In his first public comments since nine Charleston firefighters were killed in the Sofa Super Store fire June 18, mayoral candidate William Dudley Gregorie said the fire department should move quickly to make changes in its firefighting procedures.
Gregorie said the city should follow the recommendations of fire safety experts and an association that represents firefighters to change its procedures to be in line with state and national standards.
"A Gregorie administration would move aggressively to change outdated methods that subject firefighters to unnecessary hazards," he said at a news conference this morning. "I would not be arrogantly defending these practices, or calling the recommendations of experienced firemen and fire safety experts 'foolhardy.'"
Mayor Joe Riley said the city is participating in a thorough and ongoing investigation of the fire.
"If we discover any reason to change policies and procedures we will do that," Riley said. "No one should be trying to make political hay out of this tragedy."
Gregorie also said firefighter pay should be evaluated to make sure that firefighters don't need to work second jobs. Entry-level firefighters with no college degree or prior experience start at $27,013.
"This is not a time to point fingers, nor is it a time to get defensive," Gregorie said. "It's a time for action."
Gregorie, 58, will face Riley, 64, who is running for a ninth four-year term this year.