By Matt Petrillo


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The world watched the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris burn and its iconic spire topple one month ago. Firefighters did what they could to contain the fire and save the precious relics inside and out.

In a month since the devastating fire, over $1 billion has been pledged to restore the more than 850-year-old cathedral. The lack of sprinklers in the church may have allowed the flames to spread.

We took a look at some of the local landmarks to see if they would be able to survive a blaze.

The Betsy Ross house in Old City attracts thousands of visitors from around the world.

“It’s beautiful and you get a good impression of how the people lived there,” said Caroline Friederech, from the Netherlands.

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But like the Notre Dame Cathedral that burned in front of the world in April, the home also lacks sprinklers.

“We do not have a sprinkler system, it could be cost-prohibitive to do that,” said Lisa Acker Moulder, who is the director of the Betsy Ross house.

But the house has an emergency plan in case a disaster were to happen. That plan prioritizes what should be saved first, including the building since it is considered an artifact.

Not far from the Betsy Ross House is the Powell House on South Third Street, where George Washington is rumored to have celebrated his 20th wedding anniversary.

There are no sprinklers in there either, but it does have a fire alarm system that was installed four years ago and cost about $12,000.

So how important is having a sprinkler system?

“Sprinklers make a huge difference, of course the majority of our buildings do not have sprinklers,” said Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel.

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Because of that, Philadelphia fire crews make an effort to know the city’s landmarks, including Saints Peter and Paul Basilica, which also lacks sprinklers.

“In public buildings our firefighters do an incredible job of getting out into the neighborhood and understanding the types of buildings in their neighborhoods,” said Thiel.

Still, some of city landmarks like the Philadelphia Museum of Art do have a sprinkler system and in City Hall, there are 400 of them, many that are carefully concealed into its ceiling.

“The life loss and the risk is hugely diminished when you have sprinklers in a structures,” said Thiel.

As for Independence Hall, the landmark has a multi-million-dollar fire suppression system along with a fire station just a few blocks away.

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