Sometimes it takes a tragedy to move the state in the right direction, especially when it comes to the major costs of upgrading building codes.

Ten years ago, after hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the state made far-reaching changes in construction requirements for buildings and homes, a major reform after many lives were lost because of storm surges and flooding.

But there was an earlier case of tragedy driving policy, in 1972. A deadly fire that drew national attention in downtown New Orleans killed six victims, including four women who plunged from a salon on the top floor of the burning Rault Center.

The fire led to the installation of sprinklers in taller buildings and other improvements that have since saved lives. Louisiana’s government moved belatedly to require the safety improvements.

A happier ending to the story: The Rault Center has long been vacant but now is being renovated into a hotel for New Orleans’ booming tourist and business markets. We welcome it back into useful life.