The devastating fire in the Marco Polo Apartments on Friday, July 14, 2017 has left the people of Hawaii in a state of shock and grave concern. On July 21, 2017, Marco Polo residents and others came together for a fundraiser at Wine and Canvas in Waikiki to support victims of the fire.
The American Red Cross Hawaii State Chapter is also collecting and distributing resources to the victims of the fire.
This tragedy has given pause to a lot of Hawaii residents and made us think more critically about fire safety and what we can do to protect ourselves in future blazes.
Some helpful things to keep in mind for your own families:
1) Sprinkler Systems in Condos
In 1975, the City and County of Honolulu enacted a law that required sprinkler systems in all newly-constructed high rises, but did not require retroactive installation for buildings built prior to 1975. Some pre-1975 building associations chose to install sprinkler systems; some did not. Marco Polo did not have a sprinkler system.
In response to the Marco Polo fire, Mayor Caldwell introduced a bill on July 17 that would require retro-fitted sprinkler systems on buildings built before 1975 that are 75+ feet tall.
If you currently live in such a building or are considering purchasing one, there will likely be an assessment associated with this installation that you'll want to plan for.
2) Insurance Is Critical
Whether you are a homeowner or a renter, a personal insurance policy is critical to have should such an unfortunate event occur in your space.
In general, a master insurance policy covers the building structure and common areas versus a personal insurance policy that covers walls within a unit, improvements, and personal property.
Many renters mistakenly think they are covered if there is a fire in their home...they are not!
Review your policy and/or speak to your insurance agent today to ensure you are fully covered for such an event.
3) Practice Good Fire Safety
The American Red Cross provides the following "Top Tips for Fire Safety"
*Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
*Test smoke alarms every month. If they're not working, change the batteries.
*Talk with all family members about a fire escape plan and practice the plan twice a year.
*If a fire occurs in your home, GET OUT, STAY OUT, AND CALL FOR HELP. Never go back inside for anything or anyone.
One thing I would add to their list is put a note in your calendar and/or a reminder in your phone to actually test the smoke alarms every month. This testing practice may not always top of mind, so this visual reminder will help you create the habit to test regularly.
If you have any questions regarding sprinkler systems or other features of specific Oahu buildings, please do not hesitate to ask.