Bill requiring retrofitting of all high-rises with sprinklers passes first reading

(Image: Hawaii News Now/file)
(Image: Hawaii News Now/file)
Published: Aug. 9, 2017 at 9:14 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 9, 2017 at 9:48 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - City lawmakers are taking action to update Honolulu's fire code in light of a devastating and deadly high-rise fire last month.

Honolulu City Council members passed a bill Wednesday afternoon that would require all high-rise buildings to install sprinkler systems.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and the Honolulu Fire Department chief both strongly pushed for the bill following the deadly fire at the Marco Polo high-rise last month.

The building was not equipped with fire sprinklers, and fire officials say the damage would have been significantly less if sprinklers were installed.

"You're paying to retrofit your building with a sprinkler that could save your life or your neighbors. You're going to retrofit your unit so your value goes up instead of down at the time you want to sell it," Mayor Caldwell said.

However, critics of the measure say it will cost too much money to install the sprinklers.

"All of these buildings around town that are over 30 years old, we just went through a retrofit for plumbing," one testifier said. "You are going to push condo owners out because they wont' be able to afford this."

Current law only requires high-rises built after 1975 to be equipped with sprinkler systems.

Another proposed solution is to offer a tax credit to curb the cost of retrofitting high-rises.

The measure now heads to committee for discussion.

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