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Sprinkler systems lacking in high-rises. What can be done?

A fatal fire that broke out at a high-rise condominium in Honolulu resulted in three fatalities. The fire broke out in a unit on the 26 floor of the 36-floor high-rise. The victims lived in two different apartments on the same floor as where the fire started. Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the fire.

Sprinkler systems not in all high-rises in Honolulu

Could the fatalities have been prevented? Possibly, if the high-rise had installed a sprinkler system to stop the fire from spreading. The Honolulu Fire Chief said that the sprinkler system would have "confined the blaze to the unit where it started."

The fatal fire at the Marco Polo high-rise condominium highlights the importance of having sprinkler systems in all high-rise units in the city. Only high-rises built in 1975 or after are required by law to install sprinkler systems. The Marco Polo high-rise was built in 1971. Groups have tried in the past to require older high-rise buildings to use sprinkler systems but concerns over cost have ultimately led to no action.

Legislation proposed to improve safety

The Marco Polo high-rise fire is one of the worst fatal fires Honolulu has seen. Safety advocates are worried about the risk of fires in older high-rise units in the city. The mayor of Honolulu is also concerned. Mayor Kirk Caldwell recently introduced legislation to require sprinkler systems in all high-rise buildings 75 feet tall or higher no matter what year they were built. Requiring all high-rise buildings to have sprinklers installed could prevent the spread of fires in the future and save many lives.

What about the victims?

Safety improvements and new laws can make a significant difference in the future. What about the families of victims already harmed? Family members of loved ones lost in a fire like the Marco Polo high-rise fire may be able to file a wrongful death claim. Several factors are considered when determining negligence. The lack of sprinklers installed in the building could play a considerable role in the outcome of a claim.

Spouses, parents and children can pursue legal action against building owners and other parties if negligence is proved. An attorney experienced in handling wrongful death claims in Honolulu can guide you through this process to protect your rights and help you move forward with your life.

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