Recently, Representative Aaron Schock (R-IL) and Representative James Langevin (D-RI) introduced the Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act of 2011 (H.R. 1792).
After thoughtful consultations with key legislative staff on Capitol Hill, a measured and focused bill was introduced. Previous versions reduced the depreciation schedule of commercial and residential structure upgrades to five years, which made the cost estimate for the bill very expensive. With the current mood in Washington, Congressional staff made it clear the previous version of the Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act could not be passed this Congress.
H.R. 1792 focuses on two key occupancies. The Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act would make fire-sprinkler systems a Section 179 (of the tax code) property, which allows small and medium-sized businesses to write off the full cost of equipment purchases like machines, equipment, vehicles and computers in a single year.
With the inclusion of fire sprinkler systems under this bill, small and medium-sized property owners could fully deduct the cost of a sprinkler system up to $125,000, which could cover a structure up to 50,000 square feet. This would allow coverage of a large majority of high-fire-risk properties, such as certain off-campus housing, nightclubs, nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.
Since this doesn’t cover high-rise structures—one of the most vulnerable types of buildings not covered by Section 179—the act would provide a financial incentive by reducing the depreciation schedule from 39 and 27.5 years to 15 years.
We will continue to keep you updated on the progress of this bill and all of the IAFC’s legislative priorities.
Ken LaSala is the IAFC’s director of government relations and policy.