Group approves concept of sprinkler tax break

A fire advocacy group has endorsed the idea of a federal sprinkler tax break incentive
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Saturday, February 1, 2003

WASHINGTON -The advisory committee of one of the country’s most powerful fire protection advocacy groups has endorsed the concept of a federal tax break as an incentive for the installation of fire sprinkler systems in residential and commercial buildings.

Although the movement for the tax incentive is still in its infancy, sprinkler industry officials said that the resolution from the National Advisory Council of the Congressional Fire Services Institute, a non-profit group that educates members of Congress on fire issues, is one of the first major steps in the development of legislation and an important stride toward broadening awareness of the issue. Officials from CFSI could not be reached for comment.

“The significance of the committee’s approval is that all these groups sit at that table,” said Jim Dalton, director of public fire protection for Patterson, N.Y.-based National Fire Sprinkler Association.

Groups such as the NFSA, the American Fire Sprinkler Association, the National Fire Protection Association and others, representing the public safety sector, the insurance and building communities as well as companies such as SimplexGrinnell, all have representation on the committee.

The CFSI is also home to the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, the largest caucus in Washington with 320 members.

The concept for the legislation is loosely based on legislation introduced soon after Sept. 11, 2001 that would have changed the Internal Revenue Service code to allow businesses to deduct a lump sum of up to $24,000 of security equipment. Exactly what type and how much of a tax incentive would be offered to residential and commercial buildings remains to be ironed out, officials said.

“We need to get a feel for how much retrofits are done in commercial buildings, what are the tax implications, those sorts of things,” said John Biechman, vice president of government affairs for the NFPA. “We are hoping to take a leadership role but there needs to be a lot of analysis done yet.”

The resolution was submitted to CFSI’s advisory council by the NFSA and the American Fire Sprinkler Association, which both have representation on the council. The two groups plan to begin the search for a sponsor sometime this year.