Texas -- Three high-rises that cater to the elderly and people with disabilities do not have fire sprinklers.
Six elderly residents died when another unprotected building had a fire that engulfed the building. The residents were unable to evacuate. Fire officials said that sprinklers most likely would have prevented some of the casualties. New regulations will require sprinklers in high-rises. However, the requirement is twelve years out.
Richard Holgate has lived at the housing authority Tranchese apartments for seven years. It's a twelve-story building without fire sprinklers. He lives on the fourth floor in a wheelchair. A false alarm brought the reality of the situation to him. "I was in a my chair and I couldn't get out. If that was really a fire, I'd probably burn to death."
Florence Arellano uses a walker and lives in the building too. "I like the place, it's just the safety of it. How 'bout if we have our grandchildren here at that moment, at least with the sprinklers we could be under, that'd be good," she said.
A bill recently passed that will require fire sprinklers in high-rises with 50% or more of the tenants being disabled or elderly. "It's safety 101," said Republican State Rep Rick Galindo. "We're not trying to split the atom here. A bill like this shouldn't have to come from the state; it shouldn't have to take somebody like us. It should have been done locally."
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