‘Grenfell’ fire deaths in Hawaii

This video from Hawaii says about itself:

Marco Polo building fire kills three in Honolulu, no sprinkler system inside high-rise – TomoNews

16 July 2017

HONOLULU — Fire officials in Honolulu were still trying to determine the cause of a fire that ripped through an apartment building on Friday that killed at least three people.

The fire broke out in a unit on the 26th floor of the Marco Polo Tower on Friday afternoon. The building is next to the Ala Wai Canal and Ala Wai Community Park, near the famous Waikiki neighborhood in Honolulu.

There are 36 floors and 586 units in the building, which was built in 1971 before sprinkler systems became mandatory in high-rises in the city.

The fire only spread to the units next to it and immediately above it on the 27th and 28th floors due to its vast wave shape, CBS News reported.

“Without a doubt if there was sprinklers in this apartment, the fire would be contained to the unit of origin,” Reuters quoted Honolulu Fire Chief Manuel Neves as saying.

Two women and a man were found dead. They have been identified as 71-year-old Joanna M. Kuwata and Melba Dille, and 54-year-old Britt Reller. They were all residents of apartments on the 26th floor.

The fire took place about a month after the London Grenfell Tower fire that killed at least 80 people. The Grenfell Tower was also unequipped with sprinkler systems.

By Andre Damon in the USA:

One month since the UK Grenfell Fire:

Three die in Honolulu high-rise without sprinkler system

17 July 2017

On Friday, exactly one month since the Grenfell Tower fire in London that led to the deaths of at least 80 residents, three people died in another high-rise blaze that could have been prevented with the installation of an elementary safety measure: an anti-fire sprinkler system.

The latest disaster makes clear that the London fire was not an aberration. All over the world, the lives of working people are treated as expendable in the pursuit of wealth and profits by the financial elite.

Friday’s fire in Honolulu, Hawaii broke out on the 26th floor of the 35-story Marco Polo condominium building, killing Britt Reller, 54, an in-flight manager for Hawaiian Airlines, and his 85-year-old mother, Melba Jeannine Dilley, as well as 71-year-old Joanna Kuwata.

In addition to the lack of sprinklers, several building residents told the Associated Press that they did not hear or see fire alarms, raising the possibility that the fire alarm system was defective.

“Without a doubt, if there were sprinklers in this apartment, the fire would be contained to the unit of origin,” Honolulu Fire Chief Manuel Neves said.

Sprinkler systems are universally recognized as a highly effective method for quickly and automatically suppressing fires and saving the lives of both residents and firefighters. “A single fire death in a sprinklered building is an extremely rare occurrence anywhere in the world… A multiple death is almost unheard of,” said Ronnie King, the former fire chief of Mid and West Wales, UK.

In buildings completely protected by fire sprinkler systems, over 96 percent of fires are controlled by the fire sprinklers alone, while fire sprinklers have been found to reduce overall fire damage by 97 percent.

Yet the United States has no national code mandating the installation of fire sprinklers in buildings and homes. Only California, Maryland and Washington D.C. require the installation of fire sprinklers in new homes.

While Honolulu has required all new high-rise buildings to include sprinklers starting in 1975, the Marco Polo condominium building was constructed four years earlier, and local laws do not require existing high-rises be fitted with them.

A study commissioned in 2005 by the Honolulu City Council found that installation of fire sprinklers in the building would have cost about $4,305 per unit, or less than one percent of the average price of a condo.

Firefighters and their associations, including the National Fire Protection Organization, have for decades fought for laws requiring the adoption of sprinkler systems. But construction companies have lobbied furiously against these measures. Organizations such as the National Association of Home Builders spend millions each year in political donations and lobbying to relax building codes, including codes mandating the use of fire safety devices such as sprinklers.

In the UK, 99 percent of public housing estates are, like Grenfell Tower, unequipped with fire sprinklers.

Meanwhile, the victims of the Grenfell Fire have been treated with conspicuous callousness and indifference. One month after the blaze, only four of the families evacuated from the tower have been given permanent accommodations, according to the Grenfell Response Team. The vast majority have been offered accommodations that are either temporary, unaffordable, or otherwise untenable. Most residents continue to be stuck in motels or shelters.

Officials were warned repeatedly by residents and experts that the building’s shoddy, low-cost cladding material, combined with other numerous fire safety violations created a disaster waiting to happen.

Despite the obvious criminal negligence involved in the Grenfell Fire, investigators have issued no search warrants and have not interviewed anyone as a suspect, much less filed criminal charges.

Anger erupted at a public meeting Wednesday, in which Metropolitan police officials explained that investigations would be dragged out over years, with residents and survivors demanding that those responsible be prosecuted. “They knew categorically that [the cladding] would burn so rapidly. You can identify that person like that, that person needs to be arrested,” declared one resident.

Another resident told the British press outside the meeting, “There is no connection between the upper class and working class whatsoever, and that divide is getting bigger and bigger, and in Kensington and Chelsea [where the fire took place] it’s the biggest divide you’ll ever see.”

Since the disaster, numerous press accounts have detailed the correlation between poverty and fire deaths. Citing a recent study of child injuries in the UK, the Guardian reported that “children whose parents were long-term unemployed were a staggering 26 times more likely to die of fire-related injuries than children whose parents were in higher managerial and professional occupations.”

The treatment of the survivors of the Grenfell Fire, and with the official protection of those responsible for the disaster, is an expression of the fact that the tragedy is an integral part of a systematic policy of subordinating all social needs to the profit interests of real estate speculators and the ruling class as a whole. If working people must die to swell the bottom line of the financial oligarchy, so be it.

Safe, quality housing is a basic social right that must be guaranteed to everyone. The technology and resources exist to prevent tragedies like the Grenfell Tower inferno and the fire in Honolulu. Yet the use of these resources to meet the most basic social needs comes everywhere into conflict with the domination of a money-mad corporate and financial elite, which insists that society must be organized to meet its interests, not the interests of the vast majority of the population.

From the plans to slash Medicaid in the United States, to the draconian cuts to social spending by the government of the UK’s Theresa May, to the moves by the Emmanuel Macron government in France to use the state of emergency to push through pay cuts and speedups, the policy of social counterrevolution is being pursued by the ruling classes all over the world.

If workers are to defend their social rights, and ultimately their lives, they must be mobilized and organized on the basis of an international program in the struggle for socialism.

6 thoughts on “‘Grenfell’ fire deaths in Hawaii

  1. Tuesday 18th July 2017

    posted by Lamiat Sabin in Britain

    JEREMY CORBYN has called on Theresa May to ensure that the Grenfell Tower fire inquiry team include representatives from minority backgrounds.

    The Labour leader wrote a letter to the PM to say that families of victims and the survivors would not trust the inquiry otherwise.

    His letter was hand-delivered yesterday before the closure of the consultation into the inquiry’s terms of reference.

    He pointed to the Macpherson inquiry, which probed institutionalised racism in the Met when investigating the 1993 murder of Stephen Lawrence, as one that included people of minority backgrounds.

    Mr Corbyn writes: “The importance of residents and victims’ families having full confidence in this inquiry cannot be underestimated.

    “I urge you to consider broadening the inquiry team to a model more similar to that used in the Macpherson inquiry, including with representation from those from minority backgrounds, in order to support the judge leading this inquiry.”

    Labour has called on the government to conduct a two-part inquiry in order to get answers to urgent questions about what happened at Grenfell, with the first part reporting back this summer to minimise further suffering of survivors.

    This would include finding out why the fire spread so rapidly, whether building regulations were breached and why residents’ long-standing complaints about fire safety were repeatedly ignored by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council.

    The council’s financial dealings and the support and advice it gave to residents since the tragedy should also be looked into, Labour demanded.



  2. Tuesday 18th July 2017

    posted by Morning Star in Editorial

    PUBLIC confidence in the Grenfell Tower fire inquiry would be enhanced by Theresa May’s acceptance of Jeremy Corbyn’s proposal to broaden it.

    Disaster survivors and local residents have made clear their disquiet over the restrictive approach set out by inquiry chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick.

    They are not interested in a probe that restricts itself to establishing where the fire started, how it spread and what fire-safety shortcomings there were in the building before concluding what a shame it was, offering condolences to bereaved families and hoping that lessons will be learned to prevent similar tragedies.

    Such a scenario would be viewed by those involved most closely as an Establishment whitewash. They would be right.

    Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell’s description of the fire and the huge loss of life as “social murder” has upset Tory politicians, but his righteous anger reflects the seething fury of poor people in Britain’s richest borough who believe that those in power regard them as expendable.

    North Kensington residents know that a small domestic fire in a single flat in a high-rise block should not culminate in a towering inferno in which at least 80 people — possibly over 120 — perish.

    They want to know why that happened. Not simply how did one tragic circumstance develop into another but who took the decisions that put their lives in the balance and why.

    The dominant suspicion is that Tory-Liberal Democrat capitalist austerity agenda that slashed government block grants to local councils, fire and rescue authorities and other public bodies played a role.

    In addition, the allegation that Kensington and Chelsea Council has sought to economise on provisions for the borough’s poor people while handing the richest council-tax payers a refund must be examined.

    Retired judge Moore-Bick made the mistake during his meetings with the local community of trying to convince them that his experience and professionalism would enable him to carry out his brief.

    His audience was looking for something more — an awareness of how they live and empathy with what they want. They were not there to be patronised.

    The Prime Minister has referred Corbyn’s letter to the inquiry chairman although, since she set it up, she could have shown leadership for a change by signifying support for the Labour leader’s proposal.

    Inquiry chairman Moore-Bick should take this on board as a matter of urgency.



  3. Pingback: After Grenfell, Honolulu, more United States fire disasters? | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: After Grenfell Tower, more British fire hazards | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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