State Rep. Mohamud Noor (DFL – Minneapolis), Sen. Kari Dziedzic (DFL – Minneapolis), Housing Finance and Policy Chair Alice Hausman (DFL – St. Paul), Hassanen Mohamed, who is the family member of fire victim Nadifa Mohamud, and former State Fire Marshall Tom Brace presented legislation to require automatic sprinkler systems in nearly all existing high-rise buildings in response to a fatal fire in the Cedar High Apartments last November.
“We owe it to the families of those we lost in the Cedar Apartments, and to the firefighters who have had to respond to far too many of these incidents, to take action,” said Noor. “Sprinklers are a simple, highly-effective tool that should be fully-employed in all high-rises, new and old. Minnesotans deserve to feel secure in their homes – we can help ensure they do by being prepared and avoiding preventable tragedy.”
“I am proud to be a co-author of the 2020 Sprinkler Bill. It will protect the lives and safety of people living in public housing across the state,” Dziedzic said. “These critical life safety maintenance repairs and upgrades will prevent future fire tragedies so no one else dies.”
The upper floors of the 25-story Cedar High Apartments, where the fire occurred on Nov. 25, did not have sprinkler systems installed. Five people lost their lives in the fire.
The legislation applies to all buildings 75 feet or higher and would require fully-operational sprinklers by Aug. 1, 2032.
In addition to a capital investment request, Noor and Dziedzic have been working with partners at the local and federal level to provide funding to install the sprinklers. On Dec. 18, U.S. Sens. Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) introduced legislation – the Public Housing Fire Safety Act – creating a program to provide support to public housing authorities who wish to retrofit older high-rise apartment buildings with sprinkler systems. U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-5th) has requested the Department of Housing and Urban Development determine how many facilities are currently exempted from requirements, and how much it would cost to install them.
The 1979 Uniform Building Code requires all new government-owned buildings to comply with similar sprinkler standards. However, up to 40 buildings built before 1979 still do not have sprinkler systems.