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Fire safety panel recommends retrofitting sprinklers in 150 older Honolulu buildings

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HONOLULU -

Five months after the deadly fire at the Marco Polo Building, an advisory committee formed in response to the tragedy is making a recommendation to the Honolulu City Council. 

"I think the fire sprinkler system is a good idea, the hard part is just--  the finances to be able to pay for them," said Ikaika Olds, who owns an older condo with no sprinkler system.  

The Residential Fire Safety Advisory Committee recommends retrofitting 150 older buildings in Honolulu with automatic sprinkler systems.

"I feel it's definitely a good recommendation, for this kind, tall buildings," said Shuai Li, a Marco Polo resident.  

Li lives on the 5th floor in the Marco Polo Building, his condo was not damaged in the fire, but he's worried about future fires. 

"We want to move out because it's dangerous, who knows? Next time maybe it's a nearby apartment, nearby our room," said Li.    

After the fire, Honolulu Fire Department emphasized that sprinklers save lives, but they estimate it would cost between $6,888 and $21,557 to retrofit each unit. The cost burden often falls on condo owners, like Olds. 

"We just had a baby, right now is not the best time for retrofitting, but I think it is important," said Olds.

Despite the cost, all families Island News spoke with said safety is a priority. 

"You can't put a price on safety, it's just a sudden and inconvenient expense," said Olds.

The committee is also recommending changes to the fire code and financing options to retrofit sprinklers to the city council. The city council will take up the fire sprinkler bill next week. 

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