Blu Gorilla Tattoo opened its doors to firefighters for two days last week, offering free tattoos to memorialize the nine brethren lost in the sofa store fire. On Tuesday, they inked 76 tattoos over the course of 12 hours. That still wasn't enough time to get to everybody, so they extended the offer to Thursday. Local and regional firefighters lined up early for the free ink and filled the waiting room to capacity, spilling out into the parking lot.
Owners Tim Dennis and Alex Baranow decided to offer their services to the firefighters as a way of giving thanks and honoring the fallen nine. They expected a strong turnout, but were unprepared for the huge response. The arrangement was a group effort, Dennis said, with help from Gourmet Bay, Rhye Ice, and Snyder rentals. Family and friends from Blu Gorilla pitched in as well.
The four artists who contributed were Tim Dennis, Steven Beasley, Shantelle Rovaris, and Glenn Collins. Beasley, an engineer with St. Andrew's Fire Department, was on the scene the day of the fire.
His first canvas was Dewayne Jacques who serves with Engine 18 in the Charleston Fire Department. Jacques chose a Maltese cross arrangement with the number 9 in the middle, surrounded by the words "All gave some, some gave all." It was a common request. Firefighters had 18 designs to choose from, ranging from script of the names of fallen brothers, to Kanji characters, to a variety of designs incorporating the number nine. Of his decision to get inked, Jacques said, "It'll be the first thing I see when I wash my hands or my face. It's to remember. Every day."