East Bay Street Fire Investigation - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

East Bay Street Fire Investigation

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In all, 17 firefighting units responded to 213 East Bay Street on April 2nd. An hour into the battle to save the businesses, firefighters found themselves with another fight.

According to radio transmissions during the incident, firefighters were running out of water.

Charleston City Fire Department Chief, Karen Brack, says it's a problem that could happen anywhere, but it's a bigger threat on the peninsula.

Water pipes date back to the 1880's in some cases. The pipes under East Bay were replaced at the turn of the 20th century, and they just tapped out.

"Do we have areas of concern? We certainly do," Chief Brack said. "It's my job to make sure we have a back up plan for those areas."

Firefighters created a supply line with their hoses and were able dumped 4,000 gallons of water per minute onto the fire.

But can something be done so firefighters don't lose critical minutes with low pressure?

News 2 took that question to the head of operations at Charleston Water Systems.

Andy Fairey, the Chief Operating Officer, told News 2 the system worked properly, and it performed above DHEC standards.

News 2 found standards of pressure are lower on the peninsula than they would be in other parts of the city.

"Long term we'll be making some improvements," Fairey explained.

Those improvements include regular system checks and flushes; upgrades at fire hydrants; and a new tank and pump system on Nassau Street coming in 2014.

"Maintaining a system is very important," he explained of the company's master plan. "You have to be disciplined in maintaining."

As for any operating error, the critical incident review found none.

"They went out that day, and [they] performed like we expect them to,"Chief Brack said.

The situation could have been much different.

According to the city Fire Marshall, if the building was retrofitted with a sprinkler system, it's likely the businesses on East Bay would already be open.

If the same structure was built today, laws would require a sprinkler system.

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