Charleston Firefighter Sets it Straight

Who would know best about what happened on June 18, 2007 than someone who lived it.

A lot of bad information about the day that the Charleston Fire Department lost nine firefighters was delivered in presentations across the country.

Rather than simply sit idly by, David Griffin is doing something about it.

Griffin had people attending the opening ceremonies of Firehouse Expo wiping tears one moment, and laughing the next.

He outlined his early days in Charleston, and how proud he and others were to be part of what they believed was a well-trained, aggressive firefighting team.

How dare fire officers from up north criticize the way the Charleston firefighters fought fires. What did they know about southern firefighting.

“I was very disappointed in the Routley report…”

But, he was quick to add: “It was spot on.”

He said he’d never heard about RIT, and didn’t know what it stood for. He was stunned to hear that the department wasn’t following even the basic firefighter safety standards.

Griffin, who dedicated his presentation to his nine friends who answered their final call that day, said when Chief Tom Carr showed up in town he was disliked and questioned. “How was this northern boy going to show us southern firefighters how to fight fires?”

Even more disliked was Carr’s deputy chief, John Tippett, whom Griffin said got the nickname ‘Hammer’ because if things went wrong, he was putting the hammer down.

But, Griffin spoke of his admiration for the men who started providing training, putting safety above all else and making sure the crews had the equipment and tools necessary.

The audience was emotional as Griffin described his fall into depression and drugs following the loss of his colleagues.

He turned to fighting because “they couldn’t arrest me…”

He had a Mohawk, and made it stand up to look scary when he went to work.

After his last fight, his eyes were swollen shut and he couldn’t get off the sofa for three days.

It was during that bout he saw his friends, he heard their last calls for help, their last prayers.

He then decided it was time to do something to honor them.

Griffin now has a doctorate, and has written a book to pay tribute to his nine colleagues, his fellow firefighters.

He urged the crowd to stop talking about change, and take action to make it happen.