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Trump Tower fire is second 2018 blaze in sprinkler-free residential tower

Trump tower fire
Fire breaks out at Trump Tower in New York City 00:20

The fire on the 50th floor New York City's Trump Tower that left 67-year-old Todd Brassner dead and six firefighters injured was the second fire in the building in 2018. President Trump's centerpiece Manhattan skyscraper opened in 1984, but does not have sprinklers on its residential floors, a measure required in new buildings since 1999. President Trump, then a private citizen and property developer, lobbied to try and prevent the mandate at the time.

New York City in 1999 became last big city in the nation to require sprinklers, according to the New York Daily News. Under the 1999 legislation, buildings constructed before then were only required to have sprinklers if they underwent gut renovations. 

According to The New York Times, Mr. Trump was one of the developers in the late 1990s who lobbied against sprinklers in buildings. He then recanted once the legislation passed with grandfathering provisions that meant existing buildings did not need to install them, saying that he understood they made residents "feel safer." FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said on Saturday that there is extra fire protection at Trump Tower when Mr. Trump is there. 

Then-New York city mayor and now staunch Trump ally Rudy Giuliani signed the bill requiring sprinklers into force on March 24, 1999, having opposed it when it was first proposed in 1997. The legislation was spurred on by a major fire in a so-called "fireproof" apartment block with no sprinklers on New York's Upper West Side the previous December, and another in a Brooklyn housing project the same month in which hallway sprinklers failed. Survivors wanted all buildings to have sprinklers, but the legislation that was passed was not retroactive, much to the delight of existing property owners who cited cost as a major reason not to be compelled to retrofit their buildings. At the time the legislation was being discussed, Mr. Trump had just started construction on a 72-story tower near the United Nations, and he subsequently said he would install sprinklers there at a cost of $3 million.

Saturday's fire is the second fire in Mr. Trump's Fifth Avenue building this year: Two civilians suffered minor injuries and a firefighter was hurt by debris in a fire on Jan. 8 on the top of the building. That blaze was sparked by an electrical issue, Mr. Trump's son, Eric, said at the time. Eric Trump said the fire had been in a cooling tower.   

Nigro said in a press conference that the cause of Saturday's fire is still unclear. 

Mr. Trump tweeted shortly after the fire broke out that his building is "well-built." Nigro agreed at the press conference that it's a "well-built building." 

"The building sure stood up quite well," Nigro said. There is considerable smoke damage to the upper floors. Nigro said units checked Mr. Trump's residence on the upper floors. 

Neither Mr. Trump or any of his family were in the building at the time of the fire. Mr. Trump and his wife, Melania, were at Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. on Saturday night. Eric Trump lives in the nearby Trump Parc building, which is located on Central Park South. 

While it's unclear how many fires have been at the building since it opened in 1984, a severe fire in 1982 set construction back two months, according to amNewYork

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