Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell wants to make sure a deadly high-rise fire, like the one that broke out Friday in the Marco Polo building, doesn’t happen again.

On Monday, he introduced a bill that would require retrofitted sprinkler systems to be installed in all high-rise residential buildings over 75 feet tall built before sprinkler systems were required in 1975.

“Sprinklers save lives, and our keiki and kupuna need them most,” said Caldwell. “We know the Marco Polo fire would likely not have spread if the building had sprinklers. We also know that many Oahu families struggle to pay for affordable housing, and we are working with the City Council to find ways to help homeowners pay for this lifesaving upgrade.”

Details, such as the timeline, assistance programs for homeowners, and penalties for non-compliance will be added during City Council deliberations.

In 1975, the City and County of Honolulu enacted a law requiring sprinkler systems in all newly constructed high-rise buildings, but not to existing buildings.

In 1983, Honolulu required all existing hotel high-rise buildings retrofit an automatic fire sprinkler system. In 2001, the requirement was extended to all existing commercial high-rise buildings.

The requirement has not been extended to existing high-rise residential buildings.

According to a survey conducted by the Honolulu Fire Department, there are approximately 300 high-rise apartment buildings on Oahu which currently do not have a fire sprinkler system.

Honolulu’s Building Code currently requires all newly constructed multi-family apartment buildings be equipped with an automatic fire sprinkler system, even if they are not a high-rise building.

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