NEW YORK – Smoke detectors save lives – and one might have saved the man who died in Saturday's blaze in Trump Tower.
Todd Brassner's apartment didn't have a working smoke detector, FDNY officials said Monday.
Firefighters rushed over to the Fifth Avenue high-rise after a building-wide alarm system alerted them to the blaze, officials said.
By the time they arrived, Brassner, a 67-year-old art dealer, was unconscious on the 50th floor.
Brassner later died at the hospital from smoke inhalation, the city medical examiner said Monday.
It's likely the fire was accidental, sources said.
But investigators have yet to pin down what set the blaze, which spewed bright flames and smoke from several windows in the glass-sheathed tower.
Property owners like Brassner are responsible for making sure they have working smoke alarms, according to New York City law.
A lack of sprinklers in the tower's residential floors contributed to the fire, FDNY officials have said.
Trump Tower currently only has sprinklers on its commercial floors.
Sprinklers wouldn't have saved Brassner, said Barbara Res, a former Trump Organization vice president who helped build the tower in the 1980s.
"Sprinklers protect buildings. Smoke detectors protect people," said Res.
By the time sprinklers were activated in Brassner's apartment, he might already have succumbed to smoke inhalation, she said.
Res defended Trump's decision to not install sprinklers after a 1999 city law mandated them in new residential properties.
Other real estate developers also have not installed sprinklers in their buildings, Res said.
"I doubt if anyone retrofitted that didn't have to," Res argued. "People don't want to spend the money they don't have to."
"Back then, insurers didn't want sprinklers in buildings because they caused so much damage," she added.
Trump was more vocal than most about his opposition to the sprinklers and lobbied hard against the bill in the late 1990s.
The then-business magnate argued that sprinklers were too expensive – at $4 per square foot – to install throughout an entire building, The New York Times reported at the time.
In response to Saturday's fire, Councilman Robert Cornegy, a Brooklyn Democrat, announced Monday that he planned to introduce legislation that would require sprinklers at all residential towers with four or more apartments.
Friends say Brassner – who Trump once allegedly called a "crazy Jew" – disliked living in the building, and was doomed from the moment he moved in more than two decades ago.
"He was trapped," said close pal Rachael Cain. "I wonder if Todd even realized the dangerous condition he was living in."