Author(s): Angelo Verzoni. Published on May 1, 2018.

Trump Tower Blaze

NYC building where resident died lacks fire sprinklers


In April, one man died and six firefighters were injured in a four-alarm blaze that tore through a 50th-floor luxury apartment in Trump Tower—the president’s namesake mixed-use high-rise building on Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan.

The apartment included neither smoke alarms nor fire sprinklers. Fire marshals later concluded that the fire was the result of overloaded power strips.

When firefighters arrived at the unit, the apartment was fully engulfed, said New York Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro, according to the Washington Post. “This was a very difficult fire,” he said. “As you can imagine, the apartment is quite large; we are 50 stories up. The rest of the building had a considerable amount of smoke.”

The apartment’s resident, Todd Brassner, was pulled unresponsive from the smoke and flames by firefighters and rushed to a hospital. Brassner, 67, an art collector and dealer and a friend of the late artist Andy Warhol, later died.

The tower lacks fire sprinklers, since the building predates legislation requiring sprinklers, and tenants also spoke to reporters about a lack of knowledge on what to do during fires. “There was no evacuation system in place,” a resident of the 36th floor told the New York Post. “We were at a loss for what to do. I almost fainted. I thought we would die.” Another fire at Trump Tower in January injured two people, according to CBS New York.

After the blaze, earlier news stories surfaced that showed Trump opposed the introduction of sprinkler legislation in New York City in the 1990s. He argued sprinklers make people “feel safe” without actually improving safety in high-rises, according to a 1999 New York Times article, though he later softened his stance and voluntarily installed sprinklers in some of his buildings.

According to NFPA’s fact sheet on high-rise apartment and condominium safety, a fully sprinklered building provides residents the best protection from fire.

ANGELO VERZONI is staff writer for NFPA Journal. Top Photograph: AP/Wide World