Reps. Reed, Langevin and Sens. Collins, Carper Introduce Legislation to Improve Fire Safety and Preparedness

Mar 10, 2017 Issues: Housing, Rhode Island

U.S. Representatives Tom Reed (R-NY) and Jim Langevin (D-RI) and U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tom Carper (D-DE) introduced the Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act, legislation to encourage building owners to invest in life-saving fire safety upgrades. The bill strengthens tax incentives for small businesses and owners of structures, such as commercial office space, nursing homes and other buildings, to install fire sprinkler retrofits.

“We just introduced a bill that will help make people safer by providing tax incentives for improvements to fire sprinkler systems in existing buildings,” said Congressman Tom Reed. “Rep. Langevin (RI) and I have co-sponsored this bill which has received the support of firefighters and unions alike because it modernizes buildings and improves safety while increasing employment and manufacturing, which are all good for the community. We care about protecting and improving the everyday lives of people.”

“On February 20, 2017, we marked the 14th anniversary of the Station Nightclub fire, one of the worst tragedies in Rhode Island history. I will never stop fighting for precautions that have the potential to save lives and avert a disaster like the one we saw on that terrible night in West Warwick,” said Congressman Jim Langevin, who first introduced this legislation in 2003 and has continued to push for its adoption. “This legislation will provide much needed incentives to businesses that are proactive in making their properties safer. We need to make it easier and more cost-effective to install these life-saving systems, and I urge my colleagues to support and pass this bill without delay.”

“The annual cost of fires is enormous, killing thousands of Americans and causing billions of dollars in property damage.” said U.S. Senator Susan Collins, the chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus. “When properly installed, state-of-the-art sprinkler systems can help avert tragedies by controlling or extinguishing fires, protecting firefighters, and saving countless lives. Our bill would make it easier for small businesses and commercial building owners to invest in these critical fire safety upgrades.”

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that is certainly the case with unexpected, and often tragic, fires,” said Senator Carper. “Each year, we lose thousands of lives and billions of dollars of property when buildings catch fire. Unfortunately, upgrading or installing fire sprinklers that would reduce those numbers can be far too expensive for building owners, especially small businesses. Senator Collins and I have introduced this bipartisan proposal to provide much-needed tax relief for businesses that invest in retrofits that help keep people safe and mitigate the costs of fire damage.”

While building codes require sprinklers in new commercial buildings, tens of thousands of structures across the nation were built and put in service before sprinklers were required. Currently, commercial building owners must depreciate fire sprinkler retrofits over a lengthy 39-year period. The period for residential buildings is 27 and a half years.

The Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act reclassifies fire sprinkler retrofits as 15-year depreciable property, thus allowing building owners to write off their costs more quickly. The bill also provides an option for certain small businesses to deduct the cost of the fire system upgrades immediately under Section 179 of the tax code. Together, these proposals will provide a strong incentive for building owners to install fire sprinkler systems.