The state Occupational Safety and Health Administration has agreed to reduce the fines and downgrade the most serious alleged violation stemming from the Charleston Fire Department's handling of the Sofa Super Store blaze on June 18 that killed nine city firefighters.
In one of the largest fines ever imposed on a public agency in South Carolina, OSHA fined the city $9,325 in September for four violations stemming from the fire. The citations dealt with accusations that firefighters failed to wear full protective gear and air masks, did not recognize known hazards associated with the store's steel truss roof and lacked an adequate command system to coordinate firefighters on the ground and track their whereabouts.
The settlement agreement, which still requires final state approval, groups together three separate "serious" equipment-related infractions into one violation. It downgrades a "willful" violation to "unclassified" and lowers the overall fine amount to $3,160.
The agreement mentions the city's numerous efforts to improve the department in the wake of the blaze, including the hiring of a consulting panel.
The city admits no wrongdoing in the settlement and it's details can't be used in any ongoing or future lawsuits, according to the agreement.
Charleston Mayor Joe Riley will answer questions about the settlement at 5 p.m.
Read Tuesday's Post and Courier for details of the settlement and reactions