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Fire report recommends sprinklers, building codes for furniture stores

CHARLESTON, S.C. — The National Institute of Standards and Technology wrapped up a report last week on a tragic furniture store fire here by urging sprinklers and a national building and fire safety code for new and existing furniture stores, the local Post & Courier newspaper reported.

The June 2007 fire destroyed the Sofa Super Store here and killed nine Charleston firefighters, the most killed in a single incident since the Sept. 11, 2001, World Trade Center attack in New York.

The two-volume report said the Charleston fire likely would have been contained at its point of origin at the store's loading dock if sprinklers had been in place. The fire spread into the store's showroom and, according to the report, was intensified when fire broke windows and created a wind tunnel for the blaze to sweep through.

A key recommendation called for national model building and fire safety codes requiring sprinklers for all new retail furniture stores regardless of size, and for existing furniture stores of over 2,000 square feet.

The study also recommended adopting codes that cover buildings with high fuel loads such as furniture, ensuring proper fire inspections, and encouraging more research on how ventilating buildings can affect the spread of fire on furniture.

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