Fire group seeks sprinkler tax break

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Friday, November 1, 2002

DALLAS - A fire sprinkler organization is hoping to get a bill introduced in Congress that would provide federal tax breaks for property owners that install a sprinkler system in their buildings.

The American Fire Sprinkler Association has hired a lawyer with legislative experience to research in what form a tax incentive would be most helpful to the building community, said Steve Muncy, president of the AFSA.

"There are a lot of concerns post Sept. 11 as to how secure our buildings really are and how to make them more safe and secure," Muncy said. "We are trying to research what would be the best mix and we're certainly taking into account what we think would actually get passed."

The AFSA board of directors gave its formal approval to the legislative development process when it approved funding at the AFSA's convention in September.

Some of the particulars that will be researched are whether the legislation should pertain to both residential and commercial properties, since both are not based on the same tax structure, Muncy said. The attorney working with the AFSA will be meeting with the building community to determine what that group would find most receptive.

"We feel like we have several people, depending on the language, who would be willing to step forward as sponsors of it," Muncy said. The group is hoping that legislation will be introduced sometime in 2003.

At press time, AFSA hoped to have made a huge step forward by gaining the endorsement of the Congressional Fire Services Institute on the sprinkler tax incentive concept. The institute is a non-profit organization that educates members of Congress about fire issues.

That group's approval could serve as a "preliminary step to generating interest" for the legislation, Muncy said.

A similar bill introduced 10 years ago that would have provided tax breaks to only building owners in a specific community died in committee.