Push for fire sprinklers in Minneapolis high-rise where fire killed 5 people

Updated: November 28, 2019 08:22 AM

The Minneapolis Public Housing Authority operates the Minneapolis high-rise apartment building where a fire killed five people Wednesday and in its 2020 budget, the MPHA recommends retrofitting all of its high-rise buildings in the future.

The federal Housing and Urban Development Department subsidizes the building and the MPHA oversees its operations under the auspices of HUD.


The 25-story, 200-unit apartment building was built in 1970 and is not required to have a sprinkler system. It's also not even required to retrofit the structure to meet current fire protection standards.

Shane Gray is a retired fire chief and is now president of the National Fire Sprinklers Association, in Baltimore, Maryland. He told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS states and cities need to look at making retrofitting high-rise buildings mandatory.

"There are tragedies, like the one in Minneapolis, all across the country," said Gray. "There are other places like Philadelphia, Houston and Louisville that have made retrofitting sprinklers in buildings mandatory."

'Very tragic night': 5 dead, 3 hospitalized after Minneapolis high-rise apartment fire

Gray said high-rise fires kill 40% more people every year in fires than any other type of fatal fire, and there are ways to require retrofitting and make it affordable.

"There is an extra cost to retrofitting older buildings with sprinklers, but there is a way to get it done too," said Gray.  "You can offer tax credits and deductions and phase it in over a number of years to help the owners of these buildings afford it."

The cause of the Minneapolis fire is under investigation and is considered to be an accident. There is no evidence, yet, that shows better safety, or more frequent safety inspections, could have prevented it from happening.

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Jay Kolls

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company


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