A fire in an condo unit on the 50th floor of Trump Tower that killed one resident on April 7th has drawn attention to the issue of installing sprinkler systems in older, larger residential buildings.
In 1999, the City passed a law requiring new buildings to have sprinkler systems included in their blueprints from the start. Older buildings like Trump Tower (which was completed in 1983) were exempted from having to be retrofitted with sprinklers unless they underwent renovations totaling 50 percent or more of the building's value, as The Real Deal pointed out. The sprinkler law was put into effect after two separate deadly fires at residential buildings in Brooklyn and Manhattan in the late 1990s, The Washington Post reported.
This latest blaze -- which claimed the life of condo owner Todd Brassner, 67 -- has officials rethinking the issue of sprinklers, according The New York Times.
“We have to be more conscientious on behalf of residents,” said Robert Cornergy, Jr., the City Council chairman on buildings, as quoted in The Times. He urged new legislation that would require older apartment buildings to have sprinklers installed.
Around the time the sprinkler law was enacted, developers including Donald Trump argued that installing sprinkler systems for every unit in older buildings would be expensive, costing up to $4 per square foot. ”People feel safer with sprinklers,” Trump said in the Times in 1999. ”But the problem with the bill is that it doesn’t address the buildings that need sprinklers the most. If you look at the fire deaths in New York, almost all of them are in one- or two-family houses.”