In Honor of the Charleston 9: A Study of Change Following Tragedy

Dr. David Griffin | Closing Symposium | 2021 Annual Conference

Session Description

On June 18, 2007, nine firefighters perished in a furniture warehouse fire in Charleston, South Carolina. The engineer of the first-arriving engine, David, relates how this experience has changed organizational culture, response, education, and training on an international level. David gives a riveting account of what he witnessed that day, and the crisis that ensued in the fire service and his personal life as well. Attendees will share in not only the pain of this occurrence, but also the triumph reflected in changes in numerous aspects of organizational culture. Also discussed during the course are the signs and symptoms of post-traumatic stress from clinical research and personal experience. From there, stress management techniques and contacts for mental health assistance will be outlined.  

The final topic discussed in this course is Principled Leadership and how it can help you and your organization on your personal and professional journey. The 7 characteristics of Principled Leadership from The Citadel will be utilized:

L - Lead with humility.
E - Embrace a true, authentic self.
A - Act and speak with courage.
D - Develop and value people and resources.
E - Empower and hold others accountable.
R - Respect others by building trust and learning from mistakes.
S - Serve others before self.

Dr. David Griffin
Charleston, South Carolina native, David Griffin (40) was the driver of the first engine to respond to the disastrous 2007 Sofa Super Store fire that claimed the lives of nine of his fellow firefighters. Plagued with survivor’s guilt, he numbed himself with alcohol, painkillers, and blood sports so much so that it nearly cost him his life.

A turning point came in the days following a match with nationally ranked mixed-martial arts contender Houston “The Assassin” Alexander. For three days, he sat in darkness, his eyes swelled shut from the battering to his face. He asked himself how his lifestyle honored the nine who were dead.

“One can only sit around for so long and feel sorry for themselves until they have to get up and do something,” Griffin said.

Now, Griffin has completed a Doctorate of Education in organizational leadership and development, training organizations across the globe on the importance of moving away from "the way we've always done it" mentality. He speaks about the Sofa Super Store fire and has helped with massive reforms in how firefighters are trained as well as how executives lead their teams. Griffin has dedicated his life to spreading the message of change to all types of organizations including for-profit, non-profit, and public service.

Read the rest of Dr. Griffin's bio here.