Local Connection: Marco Polo Fire

Last week's fatal fire at the Marco Polo condominium was the nightmare scenario the fire department has been warning us about for decades.

High rise fires are not only dangerous for residents, but also for firefighters who have to get to the fire floors which they face in close quarters and heavy smoke.

The Marco Polo is a huge building and has many elderly residents unable to evacuate quickly. We appreciate the courage of the firefighters and other first responders who rushed into the danger.

Firefighters worked courageously having to flee the intense fire several times. The building was built in the late 60s and finished in 1971 before fire sprinklers were required in high rises.  Proposals to force retrofitting of the equipment were vigorously fought against by the building industry and condo associations.

The investigation will tell us whether any of the involved units had their own sprinkler systems.  But the fire chief said if the building was fully retrofitted with a sprinkler system, things would have turned out much differently.

For now, our thoughts and prayers are with those who perished and were injured in this tragic event.

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