Owners scramble to find funds and meet deadlines as city needs skyscrapers to install sprinklers

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) — A city ordinance requiring high-rise buildings to install fire sprinklers or pass a safety inspection is causing concern among apartment owners.

Following the Marco Polo fire in 2017, the city implemented an ordinance requiring the installation of fire sprinklers in 2019.

Owners also have the option of taking a personal safety assessment instead. Structures less than 10 stories tall or that have open exterior quarters are exempt.

The Honolulu Fire Department said more than 300 high-rise buildings were affected by the ordinance, but apartment owners are fighting for a fair solution as funding and meeting city deadlines pose a challenge. problems.

Hawaii Council of Community Associations President Jane Sugimura said the Marco Polo finished installing fire sprinklers last October, which cost them $5.4 million.

Meanwhile, HFD said that of the 184 security assessments submitted, only a dozen passed.

“Our staff routinely create advance plans for these areas, especially for high-risk occupancies,” Honolulu Fire Chief Sheldon Hao said. “And again they come in and work with the skyscraper owners to make sure we have a solid plan and identify all the risks for each different location.”

The rest must make improvements to pass or install sprinklers.

“Where are they going to find the money? Will there be contractors? Sugimura asked. “We’ve all heard about the supply chain problem, inflation and people quitting their jobs.”

Sugimura said buildings without sprinklers were hit by insurance premiums.

“My 300-unit building, our insurance went up 30% in 2020 to $44,000,” Sugimura said. “And the owners of my building are going to have to pay for this and it’s happening all over town.”

Sugimura is one of the owners who has until 2025 to make repairs.

She asks that building permits be a priority, especially for those who have a deadline.

“Right now it takes us a year or two to get even a permit to do the smallest job,” Sugimura said. “And now you have 200 buildings with everyone else in town wanting planning permission.”

“You don’t have enough staff to process applications.

Council member Carol Fukunaga, who chairs the public infrastructure and technology committee, said she was still in the process of collecting data.

“In our post February 24 meeting agendathe public can see that we pose questions to the city administration about these fire safety measures, especially regarding funding,” said Fukunaga.

“Our committee will continue to speak with the administration and seek public input before we get to the point of deciding next steps.”

Copyright 2022 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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