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Klobuchar, Smith propose fire safety bill after Cedar Riverside tragedy

Five people died in the blaze last month.

On Wednesday, November 27, a devastating fire broke out on the 14th floor of the Cedar High Apartments in Minneapolis, killing five people.

It was soon revealed that the building did not have sprinkler systems installed on the floors affected by the blaze.

A new bill introduced to Congress could help ensure that doesn't happen again — anywhere in the U.S. 

The proposed legislation, called the Public Housing Fire Safety Act, was submitted this week by both of Minnesota's U.S. senators, Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith. 

According to a press release from the senators, the bill would do two things: 

  • "Create a competitive grant program in the Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide funds to help public housing authorities retrofit older high-rise apartment buildings with sprinkler systems
  • Collect data on the status of sprinkler installations in public housing high-rises around the country.

As the release points out, thousands of public housing buildings around the country — including the Cedar High Apartments — were built before the Federal Fire Safety Act of 1992, which mandated sprinkler systems in all new public housing facilities. 

This new legislation would remedy that, with the senators saying "the federal government must take a larger role in supporting fire safety improvements."

“With the proper safeguards in place, tragic events like the recent Cedar-Riverside fire in Minneapolis could be prevented,” Klobuchar said in the release. “The Public Housing Fire Safety Act would require HUD to set aside money for sprinkler systems and help ensure that buildings have properly installed fire systems."

Following introduction of the bill, the National Fire Sprinkler Association applauded the two senators for their "proactive leadership."

It's not clear when the bill is up for a committee vote, the first step towards a full floor vote. 

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