Film highlights Chas. firefighters

A firefighter walks in front of the burning Sofa Super Store on June 18, 2007. File/Staff

A documentary released this week features the changes the Charleston Fire Department underwent after the deadly 2007 Sofa Super Store blaze.

The half-hour documentary, “Charleston 9: The Ultimate Sacrifice,” was produced for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. It contains interviews with firefighters, command staff, peer counselors, community leaders and survivors of the June 18, 2007, blaze that killed nine firefighters.

It shines light on the culture and tradition shifts and improvements within the department that took place following the fire and continue today.

“The incredible improvements are a tribute to the Charleston 9, recognizes the vision of Chief (Thomas) Carr, and provides an overview of a level of success that our community can take pride in,” said Fire Chief Karen Brack.

Mark Davis, a Charleston Fire Department battalion chief, appears in the documentary discussing his experience at the fire as one of the last ones to make it out of the building before it collapsed.

“It was sheer, stupid luck that it wasn’t me. Nothing more than luck,” he said in the film.

Several firefighters discussed how changes in the department had to happen, and admitted the transition wasn’t easy.

The production also features Carr, who died April 24 after a battle with Parkinson’s disease.

“Had to blend tradition with creating new traditions,” Carr said in the documentary. Carr became chief of the department in November 2008 and retired in March 2012.

Carr, who led the department through changes in training and getting new equipment, is hailed in the documentary as a strong leader and inspiration.

Dave Statter, the film’s producer, said when he met with Carr before shooting the documentary, Carr had only one instruction: Tell this story through the people who were here, he said.

“We were given unrestricted access,” Statter said. “I was greatly impressed by the firefighters.”

Carr was able to watch the documentary about six weeks before his death, Satter said. “That was very important to us,” he said. The production wasn’t released until all the family members of the fallen firefighters from the Sofa Super Store blaze had a copy.

It was also played following Carr’s memorial service last month.

“Charleston 9: The Ultimate Sacrifice,” which can be seen on YouTube, was produced by Statter911 Communications and Greg Guise Media.