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Pittsburgh Fire Chief: Sprinkler System Saved Lives During Hill District Senior High Rise Fire

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HILL DISTRICT (KDKA) -- Public Safety officials say a sprinkler system saved lives when a Hill District senior high rise caught fire.

The cause of Saturday's fire at the Ebenezer Towers apartment building is still under investigation, but officials say one thing is clear -- sprinklers saved lives.

The building had a partial sprinkler system with sprinkler heads in the hallways and the service areas.

"When the fire started trying to come out through the door, the sprinkler system activated in the hallway and protected the hallway," Pittsburgh Fire Chief Darryl Jones said. "This allowed the other people on the second floor to use the hallway to escape."

hill district fire
(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Jones recently asked Pittsburgh City Council to approve a new ordinance that would require sprinkler systems in all buildings that are six stories or more.

The request came after 75-year-old Mary Robinson was killed last year in a fire at the Midtown Towers, a building that did not have a sprinkler system.

City Council delayed a vote on the ordinance after building owners complained about the costs.

"I understand and I am sensitive that it's going to cost, I get that. It's not a free thing. If it was free, it would be a no-brainer, but I believe the benefits far outweigh the cost," Jones said. "My goals here are to reduce the risk to the citizens of Pittsburgh and if I can reduce the risk to the citizens of Pittsburgh, I reduce the risk to my firefighters."

A public hearing on the new ordinance will be held next Monday. The chief will answer questions and the Pittsburgh City Council will then vote on the measure.

"Sprinklers are like money, the more, the better," Jones said.

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