The International Association of Fire Chiefs is asking fire chiefs to contact their congressional representatives and request they pass the Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act, a piece of legislation introduced in both the House and the Senate in 2003. The legislation would amend the 1986 Internal Revenue Code by classifying fire sprinkler retrofits as either a Section 179 deduction or a 15-year property for purposes of depreciation. Currently, the tax depreciation time is 39 years for commercial property and 27.5 years for residential.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of The Station nightclub fire in West Warwick, R.I. This event and the recent loss of more than 200 people at the Kiss nightclub fire in Santa Maria, Brazil is another reminder why Congress must reintroduce and pass the Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act, said Chief Alan Perdue, recently retired director of Guilford County (N.C.) Emergency Services and a member of the’s Fire and Life Safety Section. Perdue, a 36-year fire veteran, has been involved in firefighter safety on a state and national level.
“I talk to a lot of business owners who want to update but say it doesn’t make business sense to do so,” Purdue said about installing sprinklers. “They are operating a business, so we think this method to provide an incentive creates a win-win situation for American’s fire service and business owners.”
Sprinkler manufactures and the industry that supports them would benefit from the act’s passage, Perdue said. It’s an added benefit that manufactures are based in the U.S., he said.
“It will create jobs for Americans,” Perdue said.
Attaching the act to an actual bill, the legislative process and Beltway politics have been roadblocks to passing the 2003 FSIA, Perdue said. However, it should be part of current tax reforms. The IAFC believes fire chiefs working together can make a real impact on national legislation in local communities. They ask all FIRE CHIEF readers to write to their members of Congress to highlight the need for legislation and fire sprinklers. They ask that chiefs include with their letter a copy of the national press statement (PDF) as well as share it with their local media outlets.
“I encourage chiefs to step up and help move this forward,” Purdue said. “The tragic events of the Station nightclub fire we saw again recently in Brazil. If we don’t take action, it is going to happen again.”
The call-to-action statement is supported by the following organizations:
- American Fire Sprinklers Association
- Common Voices
- Congressional Fire Services Institute
- International Association of Arson Investigators
- International Association of Fire Chiefs
- International Association of Fire Fighters
- International Code Council
- International Fire Service Training Association
- International Society of Fire Service Instructors
- National Association of Fire Training Directors
- National Association of State Fire Marshals
- National Fallen Firefighters Foundation
- National Fire Protection Association
- National Fire Sprinkler Association
- National Volunteer Fire Council