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SDFD wants fire sprinklers in all residential high-rise buildings

Posted at 6:03 PM, Jan 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-31 21:25:44-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — San Diego Fire-Rescue Department's fire marshal is pushing for all residential high-rise buildings to be required to have fire sprinklers.

This comes on the heels of a major fire this at an older residential tower in Los Angeles that had been exempted from a sprinkler requirement. At least 12 people were injured in that fire, including one man who had to cling for life to a narrow ledge after climbing out a window to escape the flames.

"That situation would have been completely different if it had been a sprinklered building," Deputy Chief Doug Perry told 10News in an interview Friday.

RELATED: Dozen injured, including 3-month-old, in 'suspicious' LA high-rise fire

The City of San Diego passed an ordinance requiring sprinkler installation in the early 1990's. However, 14 buildings were given exemptions due, in part, to their age and the difficulty a retrofit would create.

In the following decades, four of the buildings did install sprinklers. That leaves 10 currently without, according to data obtained through 2018 obtained from SDFD.

"The majority of those buildings have asbestos in them," Perry said. "So not only is it costly to install the sprinkler system, but it's very costly to mitigate the asbestos."

Of the 10 buildings, six are in the area between Hillcrest, Bankers Hill, and Downtown. Three are in La Jolla and one is in Pacific Beach.

It's unclear if city leaders will take action to revoke the exemptions given to those buildings, or take other action to have fire sprinklers installed.