Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell has introduced a new bill to require sprinkler systems in all residential buildings over 75 feet.
The bill comes in the wake of the devastating fire at the Marco Polo condominium building last Friday, which killed 3 people and injured 17 others. The building had no sprinkler system, allowing the small fire beginning in a single unit to run rampant. According to Hawaii News Now, the fire began on the 26th floor and spread through the halls, trapping residents on higher floors. Over 100 firefighters struggled for nearly five hours to get the fire under control.
The current law allowed the building, built before 1975, to be grandfathered in. Meaning that although the law requires complexes built since to install sprinkler systems, older buildings were allowed to continue business without them. The Marco Polo complex, fearing the massive expense to its tenants, took a risk which has now lead to tragedy.
It’s currently not known what caused the fire. The condition of the condo where the blaze started, in unit 2602, makes investigation difficult. Victims Britt Reller, 54, and his mother, 87, lived in a unit down the hall from where the fire began. Joann Kuwata, 71, lived next door to them. Many others are not allowed to return to their homes due to smoke and water damage.
The bill, which was introduced on Monday, aims to prevent future disasters of this nature by requiring all residential buildings over 75 feet to be retrofitted with sprinkler systems. The bill does not specify when the construction must be completed.
To help the victims of the Marco Polo fire, please click here to donate to the American Red Cross of Hawaii.