Phone company seeks ordinance exemption

SSN Staff  - 
Sunday, December 1, 2002

HONOLULU - The state's largest telephone company is hoping for an exemption from a year-old ordinance requiring it to retrofit its 17-story building with a fire sprinkler system.

The appeal comes as the Honolulu Fire Department readies this month to send out compliance letters, giving building owners five years to install sprinkler systems. In the meantime, buildings will have to meet other deadlines, such as evacuation plans.

According to a report in The Honolulu Advertiser, Verizon Hawaii officials want the exemption because they said any leaks in the sprinkler system could jeopardize the state's telecommunications network and emergency system. The company has asked the city council to exempt its building.

The ordinance, passed in April 2001, requires buildings that are more than 75 feet tall to install a fire sprinkler system. Sprinkler systems became mandatory in 1975 in buildings that are more than 75 feet tall.

In all, the ordinance will affect 35 Oahu commercial high-rise buildings.

The ordinance was proposed after a high-rise fire in April 2000 took 125 firefighters four hours to control. The fire caused $12 million in damages and injured 11 firefighters.