The blaze that killed a longtime resident and injured six firefighters at Trump Tower remained under investigation Monday — but quickly cast new attention on the uniqueness of having a U.S. president from the world of real estate.
As a private citizen, Donald Trump was never considered a leader among New York’s well-heeled developers.
But he was part of their chorus against legislation that would have mandated sprinklers in residential high-rises built in the 1980s like his own at 725 Fifth Ave.
Officials in the administration of then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani deemed the idea too expensive for owners.
There were no sprinklers in the apartment of Todd Brassner, 67, the victim in Saturday’s 50th-floor apartment at the Fifth Avenue tower.
“People feel safer with sprinklers,” Trump said in 1999, as quoted by The New York Times. “But the problem with the bill is that it doesn’t address the buildings that need sprinklers the most. If you look at the fire deaths in New York, almost all of them are in one- or two-family houses.”
Whatever the merits of the decision back then, the world has changed in more ways than one. Before it was learned that a person had been killed, Trump jumped the gun on Twitter Saturday and in part congratulated himself. His tweet:
“Fire at Trump Tower is out. Very confined (well built building). Firemen (and women) did a great job. THANK YOU!”
No further comments came for the rest of the weekend after the fatality was reported.
To be sure, Trump’s social-media critics also jumped the gun Saturday, making light of what turned out to be a serious situation before all the facts were reported.
The president’s longtime personal lawyer, Nassau-raised Michael Cohen — embroiled lately in the Stormy Daniels case — is also a Trump Tower resident. He cropped up in the news coverage when Dennis Shields, another resident, was quoted as saying there were no orders to evacuate. But Shields described a text message with Cohen, a longtime friend, during the emergency.
“He said, ‘Are you in the building?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘You better get out ASAP.’ That’s how I knew to get out, otherwise I’d still be in there.”
Back in January, there was a rooftop fire in the tower’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, but no injuries were reported.
The story even came to involve reaction against the Trump brand. Since his election, his name has been removed from three rental buildings on Riverside Boulevard and a hotel in SoHo, both in Manhattan.
Over the weekend, Rachael Cain, a friend of Brassner’s, told the New York Daily News: “He hated living at Trump Tower. . . . He thought that [Trump] was the worst thing for our country.”