Community rallies to help Charleston 9 family after house fire - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Community rallies to help Charleston 9 family after house fire

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A house fire is devastating to any family, but imagine if you're the widow of one of the Charleston 9. That's the sad reality of Kim Benke, who lost her husband 49-year-old captain Mike Benke in the Sofa Super Store fire. The Benke family home was extensively damaged in January 2013.

"We started talking about what we can do for the family and the Charleston Firefighters Support Team started looking at how we can help them," Mike Julazadeh with the Charleston Fire Department said.

After some thought, several local fire departments and the South Carolina Residential Sprinkler Coalition came to a conclusion of how to help.

"We started looking at what we can do to make them safer as the family moves back to the home and the answer was very easy... residential fire sprinklers," Julazadeh said.

They worked with local contractors who helped get discounts for materials.

"Our goal was to raise $1,500 dollars to purchase materials and start doing the install. That money was raised through private donations throughout the region and very quickly. Within a matter of a couple of days we had the money needed to move forward," he explained.

"These sprinkler heads are designed to increase the amount of time a family has to evacuate a home and gives the fire department the opportunity to control the situation upon arrival," Julazadeh said.

It's a gift to family whose husband and father gave the ultimate sacrifice in service.

"Anytime any of our family is involved in any kind of tragedy, we want to be there to support them. This had a wide-reaching effect on a lot of people. Not just in the Charleston Fire Department, but anybody in this region," Julazadeh said.

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