Sprinkler tax legislation gains sponsors

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Tuesday, July 1, 2003

WASHINGTON - A host of members of the U.S. House of Representatives have publicly stated their support for a proposed sprinkler incentive that would provide tax write-offs on the installation of automatic fire sprinkler systems.

At press time, nearly 30 representatives had signed on as sponsors to H.R. 1824, which was introduced in April after the fatal nightclub fire in Rhode Island that killed 100 people.

The bill would classify sprinkler systems as five-year property under federal tax codes for the purpose of depreciation and would make it less expensive for building owners to upgrade a property’s life safety system, supporters said.

While the sponsors of the bill are geographically scattered, their political affiliations are concentrated on one side of the aisle, said Jim Dalton, director of public fire protection for the National Fire Sprinkler Association. The NFSA, a sprinkler industry trade group, is working with others in the fire protection industry as part of an ad hoc group devoted to the passage of the bill.

“The majority of our sponsors are Democrats, and we would like to see more balance on the Republican side,” Dalton said.

Sponsors from that side of the fence, as well as some of the members of the House Committee on Ways and Means, might be more apt to sign on after a fiscal impact analysis of the bill, called scoring, is complete, he said.

A Republication congressman from Pennsylvania, Rep. Phil English, is scoring the bill.

The ad hoc group is also working to find sponsors for companion legislation to be introduced in the Senate, with some potential candidates already identified, Dalton said.

Other possible tax legislation expected to be introduced later in the session could also be a vehicle for the sprinkler legislation, he said.

“We are satisfied with our progress and will continue to work on additional co-sponsors, especially Ways and Means members,” Dalton explained, “and are hopeful that there will be a number of additional co-sponsors.”