Following Hawaii's Marco Polo high-rise fire, attention placed on state's sprinkler ban

Blog Post created by freddurso Employee on Jul 19, 2017


According to a news story by the Civil Beat, the Building Industry Association (BIA) of Hawaii organized a party to celebrate what it called a "big win." This "victory" was the extension of a state law prohibiting local jurisdictions from adopting their own requirements for fire sprinklering new homes. Set to sunset this year, the prohibition has been officially extended to 2027. The BIA played a crucial role in its passage. 


Then, tragedy struck. Fire broke out at the state's Marco Polo apartment building on July 13, killing four people. The building lacked fire sprinklers. The celebration was immediately cancelled. 


As the state debates mandatory retrofits for its high-rise buildings, the tragedy has further illuminated the sprinkler ban and the homebuilding industry's efforts to keep fire sprinklers out of the place where most Americans are dying from fire.


The Civil Beat reports that the BIA stated on a fundraising page that "it's critical to stop this insanity now," referencing fire sprinkler ordinances that could "kill our construction and remodeling industry." (NFPA's research and case studies have consistently countered this myth.) Fire safety groups, including NFPA, opposed the ban and submitted letters to the state legislature promoting their position.


Hawaii Democratic Senator Breene Harimoto sided against the sprinkler prohibition, telling the Civil Beat that the local fire service convinced him of the fire dangers of the modern home environment. These threats included unprotected, lightweight construction and upholstered furniture filled with flammable synthetics. 


 As is the case in Hawaii, sprinkler opponents across North America are working diligently to prevent fire sprinkler requirements. Please do whatever is in your power to convince your local decision makers of these threats and the impact of home fire sprinklers. If you need some assistance, download the Fire Sprinkler Initiative's new PowerPoint presentation.