Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act

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The Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act (FSIA) is the name of a piece of legislation that has been introduced in both the House and the Senate since 2003. The legislation would amend the 1986 Internal Revenue Code by classifying fire sprinkler retrofits as either a Section 179 depreciation deduction or a fifteen-year property for purposes of depreciation. Currently the tax depreciation time for commercial property is 39 years and 27.5 for residential.[1]

The FSIA would allow for a more rapid recovery of cost, and would reduce the annual economic and human losses that fire in the U.S. inflicts on the national economy, environment, and quality of life. Passage of the FSIA would be consistent with past practice at the federal level, where Congress has historically provided incentives and left decisions regarding adoption of fire protection requirements up to state and local government.[citation needed]

Background[edit]

After the Station nightclub fire killed 100 concertgoers in Rhode Island in February 2003, many lawmakers took note of the need to update building and fire codes, but no national action was taken. A large coalition (including firefighter associations, labor organizations, fire sprinkler manufacturers and fire and life organizations) has since formed to lobby congress to pass the FSIA.

The FSIA was first introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Curt Weldon [R-PA] in 2003 and in the Senate by Sen. Rick Santorum [R-PA] in 2004. The legislation has been introduced in both chambers in every Congress since the 108th session, but has never made it out of committee.

The 111th Congress was thought to be more successful with regards to the FSIA’s passage by focusing on the immediate needs of the country, including unemployment. Passage of the FSIA would mean an increase in employment among small businesses that offer sprinkler installation services.

The biggest present obstacle to passing the FSIA is the expected cost.

Impact[edit]

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there are more than 16,000 fire-related injuries, 3,200 civilian deaths, and 100 firefighter deaths each year. A 2007 NFPA study found that in buildings with properly installed sprinklers, the death rate per fire can be reduced by 83 percent and property damage decreased by 69 percent. The NFPA also has no record of two or more deaths in an educational, institutional, public assembly or residential building with properly installed and functioning sprinkler systems.[2]

The direct property damage caused by fire is more than $10 billion annually in the U.S., rising to $107 billion when accounting for indirect costs such as lost economic activity. The total cost due to fire in America reaches $347 billion when including human losses, economic losses, and the cost of provisions to prevent the cost of fire.[3]

The FSIA is also expected to have a great impact on the environment. A 2010 FM Global and the Fire Home Sprinkler Coalition study concluded that fire sprinklers reduce the release of greenhouse gases by 99 percent, reduce the amount of water usage by 50 percent, and reduce the amount of fire damage done to a location. The study also revealed a reduction in the amount of materials burned by the fire and a reduction in the amount of raw materials required to rebuild after a fire.[4]

Despite these touted benefits; despite support from firefighters, fire sprinkler manufacturers, and fire and life safety groups; and despite widespread nominal support from members of Congress, the bill has yet to become law, even though it has been introduced in every Congress since 2003. Gregory Cade, director of government affairs for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, said in an interview that the bill faces two main political obstacles.[5] The first is the loss of revenue for the Treasury, which would increase the budget deficit unless other taxes are raised or expenses curtailed, and no agreement has been reached on the means to achieve that balance. Second, the fact that the bill would amend the tax code tends to open up the wider debates around the comprehensive restructuring of the tax code as a whole, which has been a contentious area of debate.

Legislative history[edit]

Congress Short title Bill number(s) Date introduced Sponsor(s) # of cosponsors Latest status
113th Congress Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act
S. 1163 June 13, 2013 Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) 1 Read twice and referred to the United States Senate Committee on Finance.
112th Congress Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act H.R. 1792 May 5, 2011 Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) 51 Referred to the United States House Committee on Ways and Means.
S. 1035 May 19, 2011 Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) 5 Read twice and referred to the United States Senate Committee on Finance.
111th Congress Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act of 2009 H.R. 1194 February 25, 2009 Rep. James Langevin (D-RI) 138 Referred to the United States House Committee on Ways and Means.
S. 2947 January 22, 2010 Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) 7 Read twice and referred to the United States Senate Committee on Finance.
110th Congress Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act of 2007 H.R. 1742 March 28, 2007 Rep. James Langevin (D-RI) 148 Referred to the United States House Committee on Ways and Means.
S. 582 February 14, 2007 Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR) 27 Read twice and referred to the United States Senate Committee on Finance.
109th Congress Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act of 2005 H.R. 1131 March 3, 2005 Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA) 165 Referred to the United States House Committee on Ways and Means.
S. 512 March 3, 2005 Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) 15 Read twice and referred to the United States Senate Committee on Finance.
108th Congress Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act of 2003 H.R. 1824 April 11, 2003 Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA) 140 Referred to the United States House Committee on Ways and Means.
S. 2860 September 29, 2004 Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) 2 Read twice and referred to the United States Senate Committee on Finance.

Coalition support[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ [3]
  4. ^ [4]
  5. ^ Nacelewicz, Tess (March 25, 2013). "Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act: Still pending after all these years". Security Systems News. United Publications Inc. Retrieved 3 May 2014. 

External links[edit]