Trump Claimed Sprinklers Were Too Expensive To Install In Trump Tower

Screengrab/CBS Evening News/YouTube

President Trump lobbied against the mandatory installation of sprinklers in New York City buildings, citing the expense.

The man who died in the Trump Tower fired Saturday lived in an apartment without sprinklers, and President Donald Trump lobbied hard in the late 1990s to keep New York City officials from forcing developers and landlords to install such life- and property-saving measures.

According to Newsweek, Trump led the charge to protect himself and others after a series of high-rise fires killed several people in 1998 resulted in the proposed legislation.

According to a 1999 New York Post report, Trump was the most prominent member of a powerful real estate lobby opposed to reform, and complained he couldn’t afford to install sprinklers. At $4 per square foot, he argued that the sprinklers were too expensive to install in an entire building.

From the New York Post report:

Trump has called a dozen council members to lobby against sprinklers, including Speaker Peter Vallone. He has also donated $5,000 to retire Vallone’s campaign debt, and personally telephoned committee chairman Archie Spigner, and Walter McCaffery, the sponsor of the bill.

Trump did not succeed in killing the proposal, but it was enacted with exceptions that worked out well for the future-presidents:

The Mayor Rudolph Giuliani era bill was eventually altered to exclude older buildings such as Trump Tower (built in 1979 and opened in 1983), or buildings for which permits had already been submitted, such as Trump’s 72-floor tower opposite the UN building in New York, Trump World Tower.

Under the bill, signed into law in March 1999, all new high-rise residential buildings were required to install sprinklers and developers were obliged to install sprinklers when existing high-rise buildings undergo renovations.

The measure was less beneficial for the man who lost his life over the weekend, however, as well as the firefighters sent 50 floors up to save him.

That resident, a 67 year-old man, was found by firefighters passed out from fume inhalation, and later died in hospital. Seven firefighters were also injured in the blaze.

"We found fire on the 50th floor of the building. The apartment was entirely on fire. Members pushed in heroically, they were knocking down the fire and found one occupant of the apartment," Daniel Nigro, Commissioner of the New York City Fire Department, said.

Newsweek reports that Trump did eventually change his mind on the issue, saying he would put a sprinkler system in his Trump World building.

Trump told the New York Times that he had modified his views and would install sprinklers in Trump World Tower residential units at the cost of $3 million because it made people feel safer.