Gap in law leaves many LA residential high-rises unprotected from fire

Posted: 2/12/2014

On a Friday morning in October, Sasha Poparic was getting ready for qrk, looking out his window.  He noticed smoke, but thought it must have been coming from somewhere else because no alarms sounded.  

A few minutes later the alarms sounded, he opened his door and saw black smoke filling the hallway.  He soon realizes, the Los Angeles high-rise apartment complex he lived in was on fire.

He covered his face and ran for the stairway.  His neighbor was frantically calling for him to check on her 2 year old daughter and 69 year old grandfather.  Poparic found them in the stairwell passed out.  

"I thought they were dead," he said.  "[The 2-year old girl] didn't move.  [Her grandfather] was still holding her."

Poparic performed CPR and helped save their lives.

Poparic no longer lives in that complex.  He is angry that they didn't install fire sprinklers.  

There is a reason they don't have fire sprinklers.  In 1974 the L.A. City Council decided that retrofit fire sprinklers weren't necessary.  They would only be installed in new builds because of cost.  The leader of the fight against retrofit fire sprinklers was Glenn Rosten, former VP of the Greater L.A. Condominium Association.

Rosten hasn't changed his tune.  He said, "If someone offered to put them in free, I would [still] be against it."  He believes possible water damage would be more destructive than damage from fire and smoke.

However, high-rise fires occur 15,400 times a year on average, killing 46 people annually, injuring 530 civilians each year, and causing $219 million in property damage.

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