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Sprinkler policy in spotlight after apartment fire

Georgia residents may not think much about whether or not their apartment building has a sprinkler system. However, after a July 2017 fire at an apartment building in Honolulu, residents there are demanding that they be installed. The fire left three people dead and caused significant damage to the building, which was built before sprinkler systems were required. It is believed that 300 high-rises in Oahu still do not have sprinkler systems despite efforts to change that.

One reason why sprinkler systems haven't been installed on older buildings is the cost to do so. The mayor of Honolulu has introduced legislation that would require all buildings to have a sprinkler system. Honolulu's fire chief said that such a system could have contained the fire and spared the lives of those impacted by the blaze.

After a 2013 fire at the same apartment building, the cost of adding sprinklers was estimated to be $8,000 per unit.That would be roughly $4.5 million to outfit the entire building. In Hawaii, tight state and local budgets made it almost impossible for the government to help cover the cost of these improvements. A bill introduced in 2005 would have covered 35 percent of the cost of adding sprinkler systems. However, that was later reduced to 5 percent, which lead to the bill being defeated.

When people are hurt in what may be considered preventable accidents on property owned by others, they may wish to pursue a premises liability lawsuit against the owners. This may allow them to obtain compensation for medical bills and other losses. An attorney could review the evidence to demonstrate that a property owner knew about and did nothing to fix dangerous conditions.

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