Firefighters Battle Massive Blaze in L.A.'s Tallest Skyscraper

First Interstate Bank ran a full-page advertisement in The Times that thanked the Los Angeles Fire and Police Departments for their heroism and courage. The departments deserved that praise. But one cannot avoid the unpleasant conclusion that, had the bank (and the building's co-owner Equitable Life) been as quick to spend money on sprinkler systems as on public relations Pabulum, the inferno could have been avoided. Moreover, the bank's advertisement nowhere thanked the taxpayers of Los Angeles who footed the considerable cost of putting out the fire. One could argue that this was another case, albeit a minor one, of public funds being used to rescue a private firm from its incompetence and shortsightedness.

It is conceivable that, as reported in The Times, some downtown building owners might resist installing sprinkler systems (Part I, May 7). They should be required by law to install them, as the City Council has proposed. Alternatively, the council could require owners to foot the full cost of extinguishing any future fires in buildings lacking sprinkler systems. Although a facetious proposal, this would give owners the incentive they need to install these systems.


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