chapter  19
8 Pages


Many cities, most recently Atlanta (in 1989), Philadelphia (in 1991), San Diego (in 1992), Sarasota (in 2000), and Chicago (in 2005) have passed various forms of legislation requiring some degree of fire sprinkler protection within highrise residential buildings. Fires in buildings over 75 feet high are not manageable incidents because firefighting and rescue operations are unable to reach the upper stories of a building from the ground. Some high-rise retrofit ordinances do not apply to residential high-rise buildings, many of which are many present in urban areas. Retrofitting high-rises with fire sprinklers is an extremely expensive upgrade, costing over $5 per square foot in most cases. Those opposed to the retrofit ordinances argue that condominium owners and renters simply cannot afford this amount of money. In addition, the retrofit installation of fire sprinklers in older apartment buildings and co-ops would expose walls and floors, which may necessitate expensive asbestos-removal projects. To control costs, some cities allow the installation of CPVC plastic pipe in residential high-rises, or mandate fire sprinklers in corridors and public spaces (only), with the addition of one sprinkler poked inside the entry door of each tenant unit. What flies under the radar here is the silent threat to condominium owners and apartment dwellers, which is the danger of a neighbor’s fire, perhaps spreading during the middle of the night. See Figure 19.1.