Better fire codes urged

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CHARLESTON, S.C. --- Building codes to require sprinklers and training of firefighters in the science of how fires spread are among the final recommendations in a federal study of a blaze that killed nine Charleston firefighters almost four years ago.

The Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology released its final report on the Sofa Super Store fire late Tuesday.

It said a lack of sprinklers and large amounts of furniture made of flammable materials contributed to the fire's rapid spread. It said the June 2007 fire would not have spread as fast had national fire safety codes been followed.

Air rushing in after firefighters broke out several windows helped feed the flames, the report said. The fire is thought to have been started by discarded cigarettes.

The report recommends, among other things, that communities adopt building and fire codes based on national model codes and require sprinkler systems in buildings.

It also calls on communities to develop risk-management plans identifying structures at high risk of fire. Michael Newman, a spokesman for the institute, said it will work with the groups around the nation that set codes and standards and put the recommendations into action.


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