Remembering the Charleston 9: Michael French

Michael French was only 27-year-old when the Sofa Superstore Fire took his life. He had a different name, depending on who you asked. To the guys at the fire department, he was “Frenchie”, but to his mom and sisters, it was “Mikey”.

Michael’s sister, Jean Dangerfield, says, “That was the hero, like most people have Spiderman or Batman, no. It was Uncle Mikey in our house.”

His family says he had a charisma that just drew people in, and an infectious laugh.

His mother, Diane French, says, “It was a genuine belly laugh.”

Dangerfield adds, “If you heard him laugh, you knew Mikey was in the room”.

And he knew how to play a good joke, whether it was starting a flour fight with the guys at the fire station, or putting purple Koolaid in his sister’s shower head.

French says, “He loved life and embraced every minute. He had no time for negativity.”

Mikey’s love for the fire department started when he got his first toy fire truck at the age of two. And when he was 14, he joined the volunteer fire department in Moncks Corner.

French says, “He had a scanner that went 24 hours a day in my house and 2 o’clock in the morning, one o’clock in the morning…”

Dangerfield adds, “And if Mamma wasn’t available, one of us had to run calls with him.”

When he was older, Mikey’s ears were still constantly on that scanner.

Dangerfield says, “No matter where my brother was, if a tone dropped, it could be in Eadytown… He was going.”

That passion for the fire department has been passed down to his niece, Kelsi, who volunteers with the Pine Ridge Fire Department.

Kelsi’s mother, and Michael’s sister, Brandi Clark, says, “I’m proud of her, but it really does scare me, but I know she has that passion for it.”

And they know how Mikey would’ve responded.

Dangerfield says, “He would be so proud of Kelsi this day. Now would he have a iron fist down on everybody at the department? Oh yes. You wouldn’t be able to talk to little blue eyes over there without Uncle Mikey having a word in on that.”

The French family says the pain of losing Mikey still hurts every single day. They say Mikey used to warn them, that he was going to die at the end of a fire hose.

French says, “It was like he knew that was his destiny.”

Clark says, “He died doing what he loved.”

Dangerfield adds, “And it puts a little peace to it.”

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