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New Legislation Pushing For Sprinkler Systems In High-Rise Buildings

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- There's a new push to install sprinklers in high-rise buildings in Pittsburgh, including older buildings.

No one will ever forget the sight of flames and thick black smoke spewing from the windows of the Midtown Towers building in Downtown Pittsburgh back in May 2017. One person died and 100 others were displaced by the fire.

midtown towers
(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Chief Darryl Jones with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire says a life would have been saved and the damage would have been minimal if the building had a sprinkler system.

"If the building would have been fully sprinklered, the fire would have been extinguished, there would have been no loss of life, and it would have been a non-news event," he said.

A resolution has been introduced in Pittsburgh City Council requiring all high-rise buildings 75 feet or higher to have automatic sprinkler systems for fire protection. Building owners would have 12 years to comply with the regulations.


Right now, sprinkler systems are mandatory in newly constructed buildings or those that have been renovated. Under current codes, sprinkler systems are grandfathered in, or not required in buildings constructed before 1990.

Jones admits installing new sprinkler systems will be costly.

"The building owners would pick up the tab. It can be costly. I believe the cost will be based on the size of the building or the square footage of the building. That's why it is being spread out over 12 years to have this done," Jones said.

Jones says he's been working with and has the support of the building owners and managers downtown.

If the sprinkler system regulation becomes law, building owners will have one year to register their building and then 12 years to get those new sprinkler systems installed.

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