People in North Carolina might have heard about a fire on April 7 at Trump Tower in New York that resulted in the death of one man. It was the second fire in 2018 at the building. In January, a fire in the heating system led to minor injuries to three people.
When the building was constructed in 1983, sprinkler systems were not required in buildings. Once they became a requirement in new residential high-rises, safety advocates pressed for them to be added to all apartment buildings, but developers and then-mayor Rudy Giuliani resisted the addition because of costs. If major renovations are done in old buildings, sprinkler systems must be added.
The fire engulfed the entire apartment on the 50th floor where a 67-year-old man lived. He died later in the hospital. Over 200 firefighters were on the scene, and the fire commissioner said the fire was difficult to fight because the apartment was large and so high up. Six fire fighters were also injured.
If a person is injured or killed in an accident such as this one, in some cases, a property owner or other parties may be liable although the injured people or the family of a person killed in such an accident might have to file a lawsuit in order to get adequate compensation. For example, if a fire breaks out because of a piece of electronic equipment that catches fire, the manufacturer of that equipment may be liable. However, if the building was also unsafe in some way, and this contributes to a person’s injury or death in the fire, the owner could also be partly responsible. A court case might look at whether the owner, the manufacturer and others were negligent.
Source: USA Today, “Fatal Trump Tower fire: No sprinkler system in apartments“, John Bacon and Christal Hayes, April 8, 2018