Saturday, April 7, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He bragged about the safety of Trump Tower after a man died in a fire in it.

Details are still emerging about the fire in Trump's signature building that today claimed the life of a 67-year-old man. (Six firefighters were also injured putting out the fire.) Trump wasted no time in bragging about his building prowess, tweeting that the fire was "very contained" because it happened in a "well built building."

Trump Tower was at least as safe as any other New York City skyscraper at the time of its completion in 1983. But its upper floors, including the one where the tenant died, lack sprinkler systems, because they weren't required in residential areas by the building code until later. Trump has apparently been able to avoid the requirement that they be retrofitted into Trump Tower after major renovations.

UPDATE: As the New York Daily News reported Sunday, Trump not only dodged the requirement to install sprinklers after renovations, he actively fought against a separate law that would have forced him to install them regardless.

Subsequent reporting showed that Trump Tower had no evacuation plan to guide residents, and that the front desk was unmanned as panicked residents called down to it.

Why does this matter?

  • There are better days to brag about what a safe building you've made than on the day a fire in it kills a man and injures six first responders.
  • Building codes exist precisely because builders might be tempted to cut corners on safety otherwise.