Fire Sprinkler Bill Introduced in Congress

"New sprinkler systems are required in new buildings, but we need to do more to ensure the best systems are retrofitted in older buildings," said U.S. Sen. Susan Collins.

Two U.S. senators, Tom Carper, D-Del., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, introduced the Fire Safety Incentive Act of 2013 on June 14. The bill is intended to encourage owners of commercial buildings, nursing homes, and other structures to install fire sprinkler retrofits.

Commercial building owners currently must depreciate fire sprinkler retrofits over a 39-year period. This bill would reclassify fire sprinkler retrofits as 15-year depreciable property, allowing owners to receive the tax benefits sooner. It also provides an option to certain small businesses to qualify for an immediate tax benefit on fire system upgrades.

"I often say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that is certainly the case with unexpected and often tragic fires," said Carper. "Each year we lose thousands of lives and billions of dollars of property due to building fires. One way to reduce those numbers is to ensure that building owners are able to employ modern, effective fire sprinkler systems. Unfortunately, many building owners, particularly small businesses, are unable to afford the high costs associated with upgrades and installation of fire sprinklers. This bipartisan bill would provide much-needed tax relief for businesses that install these retrofits, helping save lives and mitigate costs from fire damage. I look forward to working with Senator Collins and our colleagues to pass this important bill to improve safety in communities across the country."

"Each year, fires kill roughly 100 firefighters and 3,000 occupants of buildings and result in more than $15 billion in property damage," Collins said. "That doesn't have to happen. This legislation would help small businesses and building owners upgrade to state-of-the-art sprinkler systems. New sprinkler systems are required in new buildings, but we need to do more to ensure the best systems are retrofitted in older buildings. Encouraging the installation of the best sprinkler technology will save lives, property, and money."

The bill would give small businesses a tax write-off up front for fire sprinkler upgrades instead of having to wait years under existing law to claim the tax benefit.

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