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Illinois Congressman Pushing Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act in U.S. Congress

U.S. Congressman Aaron Schock (R-Illinois) is one of the House sponsors of the Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act, which aims to provide tax credits for small- to medium-sized building owners who would like to protect their buildings with fire sprinklers.

Fire sprinklers provide many life- and property-saving benefits that cannot be denied, however, still many older multi-unit residential and commercial buildings do not have fire sprinkler protection. This largely occurs because jurisdictions that introduce new fire sprinkler requirements often grandfather in older structures that were built before fire sprinklers were required. Although it saves money for building owners, it can present dangerous circumstances if fires were to ever occur.

The Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act (FSIA) is a legislative bill circulating in the U.S. Congress that is meant to bring these older, larger buildings up to code. According to Jim Dalton, FSIA project liaison for the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA), both the House and Senate have recently introduced revised versions of the FSIA.

In the House, a familiar name in Illinois, Representative Aaron Schock (R-IL), is taking the lead with Representative Jim Langevin (D-RI), who is playing a secondary role as the lead Democrat. Schock sits on the Ways and Means Committee. Currently the House bill has 14 cosponsors and there is a push to gain more cosponsors from those who supported the previous version of the bill.

In the Senate, Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) are once again sponsoring the newly revised bill with a following of 3 cosponsors.

The FSIA encourages building owners to invest in life-saving safety upgrades though tax incentives. The bill’s intention is to solve the fire safety problem by providing an opportunity for building owners to install fire sprinkler systems. Specifically, the FSIA would allow small- and medium-sized property owners to deduct up to $125,000 for the cost of a fire sprinkler system. The tax deduction would accommodate most high-risk properties, such as off-campus housing, night clubs, nursing homes and assisted living facilities. It would also significantly cut the depreciation schedule of a high-rise building’s sprinkler system to 15 years.

Those close to the situation, such as NFSA’s Dalton, believe that there is an opportunity for passing the FSIA during the current debt ceiling negotiations. Congress is debating between cutting spending or potentially raising taxes. If the end result leans toward raising taxes, it should create an opening for the FSIA.

“We sincerely hope that Congress will find the opportunity to pass this very important fire and life safety legislation this session,” says Dalton.

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