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MN House passes bill requiring sprinkler systems in high-rise buildings following deadly 2019 fire

Lawmakers pointed to a 2019 fire in Cedar-Riverside, which killed five people.
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A bill requiring residential high-rise buildings to have fully operational sprinkler systems passed the Minnesota House Monday.

The bill’s author, Rep. Mohamud Noor, DFL-Minneapolis, said the 2019 fire at the Cedar High Apartments prompted action on the bill. The fire, which killed five people, could have been prevented if the building had an extensive sprinkler system, according to an investigation.

The Cedar High Apartments, located in Noor’s district in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, only had sprinklers in its basement and some lower-level common areas. The fire broke out on the 14th floor in November 2019. 

The building was built prior to mandatory sprinkler laws.

Noor’s bill would require any existing building in the state 75 feet or higher with at least one residential floor to have a fully operational sprinkler system by 2033. Noor said the bill would impact 63 buildings in the state, 23 of which are in Minneapolis.

Noor said federal funding could support the cost of installing sprinkler systems in qualifying buildings.

Shortly after the fire, Minnesota Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith introduced a bill that would set up a grant through the Department of Housing and Urban Development to help public housing authorities pay for new sprinkler systems.

Noor also pointed to a $1 million grant approved by the Minneapolis City Council housing committee last week to help the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority install sprinkler systems in its buildings.

“The investment is taking place with or without this bill, but [it will] ensure that we do have a requirement in our system that whether you live in an old building or a new building, you shall have safety in your home,” Noor said on the House floor.

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The bill passed the House 103-30. It now heads to the Senate, where the current version limits the bill’s language to public housing buildings.

“I thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for supporting this bill, which will improve public safety and prevent the tragic loss of life my community experienced during the Thanksgiving holiday of 2019,” Noor said in a statement.

“Our community lost so much in that fire and we continue to reel from it. By approving this bill, the Minnesota House is honoring the lives we lost that day and ensuring their memory lives on.” 

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