'Charleston 9: The Ultimate Sacrifice' Film Viewing Set for CFSI

May 7, 2013
The film -- produced by the NFFF -- will be shown at 2 p.m. Thursday at CFSI.

 A documentary about the Charleston 9, and the changes that have occurred since that deadly day will be debuted Thursday at CFSI in Washington, D.C.

“Charleston 9: The Ultimate Sacrifice”  was produced by the NFFF staff, and will be officially released in the near future.

However, at 2 p.m. Thursday, people attending CFSI's 25th annual conference are invited to watch a special viewing.

The half-hour video looks at the recovery of the Charleston Fire Department since the 2007 Sofa Super Store fire that killed nine firefighters.

Those who answered their final alarm on June 18, 2007 were Captains Billy Hutchinson, Mike Benke, and Louis Mulkey; Engineers Mark Kelsey and Brad Baity, Assistant Engineer Michael French; and Firefighters Earl Drayton, Melvin Champaign and Brandon Thompson.

The video focuses on the dramatic operational changes under the leadership of Chief Tom Carr, along with the great strides the department has made in the area of behavioral health.

The release comes three weeks after Carr lost his battle with Parkinson's.

After the showing, Charleston and NFFF officials will lead a discussion on related issues. 

NFFF Executive Director Ron Siarnicki told Firehouse.com Tuesday that the documentary took about a year. 

"We needed to proceed soflty," he said. "We had to make sure people were comfortable with it."

Knowing it was difficult for the families, the firefighters and others to share their feelings, the producers were careful to do no harm.

The film documents more than the challenges and the steps the department has made to change, it lets those affected the most tell their stories. 

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