The fire that occurred on July 14, 2017 at the Marco Polo condominium complex in Honolulu brought to light the importance of fire sprinkler installation in all condominiums. Prior to 1975, the installation of fire sprinkler systems was not a building code requirement, which resulted in the construction of 300 high-rise condominiums without sprinklers. Since that time, states and municipalities have come to recognize that when fire sprinklers are properly installed in high-rise buildings, the spread of fire is reduced and safety of residents is greatly enhanced.
With the adoption of Ordinance 18-14 [Bill 69 (2017), CD2, FD2], authorities took a major step forward to protect the lives of condominium residents and fire fighters, and to contain fires more easily. The ordinance was signed into law by Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell on May 3, 2018, but has since seen multiple amendments, which has caused some confusion within the community.
On Thursday, September 6, Atlas Insurance Agency held a Bill 69 panel discussion, which provided a 360-degree approach to reaching clarity on all aspects of the bill. Our panel of industry specialists are all at the forefront of thought leadership in their respective fields, and each of their perspectives plays a crucial role in the development, interpretation, and implementation of Bill 69. This panel included City Council Member Carol Fukunaga, Battalion Fire Chief Wayne Masuda, Attorney and PMKC Partner Chris Porter, and Owner and Bergeman Group Managing Member Dana Bergeman. The panel answered both prepared questions and questions from the audience, providing next steps for the affected condominium buildings–those which are 75 feet and higher.
On accordance with the new law, a written letter of intent must be submitted to the Honolulu Fire Department by all affected parties on or before 11/02/2018. Once the letter is received, the Honolulu Fire Department will review and respond to each petition within 60 calendar days.
According to the resolution, unsprinklered condominiums should conduct a building fire and life safety evaluation by a licensed design professional—defined as an architect or engineer who is knowledgeable with the requirements of the evaluation—within three years of the effective date of the ordinance (May 2, 2021). Within six years of the effective date of the ordinance (May 2, 2024), the condominium will need to achieve a passing score on its fire assessment score. Once the condominium has obtained a passing score, the owners may vote to opt-out of the automatic fire sprinkler requirement.
The confusion that has resulted in the wake of the Ordinance 18-14 [Bill 69] Fire Sprinkler Bill has brought to light the importance of educating our Atlas Insurance clients as well as the community at large with respect to this issue. We believe that by providing clarity, we will be better able to assist our clients with their insurance needs and provide the most effective products and services available.
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