Trump Tower Fire Exposes a Lack of Sprinkler Systems

Business, Lifestyle
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A 67 year-old man is dead and six firefighters sustained injuries after a fire broke out in the victim’s 50th floor apartment in New York City’s Trump Tower, which is a 58-story high-rise that houses the Trump Organization headquarters and the personal living space of the President and his family.  It has long been a tourist landmark in Manhattan. Many are shocked to learn that the residential portion of the building is not equipped with fire sprinklers, and even more alarmed about the way the public discovered it — through a terrible fire.

National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA) Past President John Viniello and then Director of Public Fire Protection, Jim Dalton presented testimony to the city council in support of fire sprinklers in NYC as a later Trump Tower was proposed. They were joined by Vina Drennan, whose husband, Captain John Drennan of FDNY was killed in a NYC fire in 1994.

According to an article in the New York Daily News, yesterday’s fire at the tower was described as a “raging inferno.” FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro went on to state that “The fire was a difficult fire. The apartment was quite large and 50 stories up.” He also made it a point to note that the building’s residential floors lacked fire sprinklers.

The Association went on to note in a statement that “this is yet another example of the tragedy that can occur in a high-rise building which is not equipped with fire sprinklers. In January of this year, fire broke out on the roof of the building, injuring three people. Last year, a fire in the Marco Polo Condominium High-Rise in Honolulu, Hawaii killed four people and injured 13. These tragedies, while preventable, will unfortunately and undoubtedly be repeated if action is not taken to avoid them.”

What will strike many as odd is the fact that the building containing the President’s private residence is unprotected by fire sprinklers in 2018.  However, fire sprinklers were not required when the building was put into service in 1983.  It should be a sobering thought to know there are tens of thousands of buildings across the United States that were built before fire sprinklers were required.  The Association went on to note that “Every year these buildings get older, and every year, as their systems age, they become more prone to fire.  Trump Tower is one of the most expensive real estate properties in this country.  In 2018, there has been two fires in 4 months at the property that led to one death and multiple injuries.  These facts support the need for retrofitting of fire sprinklers in high-rise buildings.”

“The National Fire Sprinkler Association joined with other national fire service organizations recently to celebrate the fact that fire sprinkler incentives were included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that will address the issue for small business owners who are able to realize the benefits of Section 179 of the tax code. However, due to a technical oversight in the law, corporations cannot take advantage of the tax break because they were left out. Most importantly, residential properties, where 80 percent of the of the fire deaths in the country occur, were not included when Congress passed the legislation.”

“We are working diligently with the fire service to heighten awareness of this oversight in hopes that it can be corrected,” adds Shane Ray a former firefighter and fire chief himself.  “We should not have a situation that requires firefighters to battle a fire in a high-rise building without the assistance of fire sprinklers.”

It is being reported that Trump lobbied against mandatory sprinklers.


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