The recently passed US tax legislation includes an important incentive to significantly improve the life safety in existing buildings – both commercial and residential. Included in the legislation are two provisions to incentivize the retrofitting of fire sprinklers in buildings.

Cost Recover Section 13201 allows fire sprinklers to be fully expensed. That means the property owner can immediately write off the full cost of the sprinklers system; this is in both commercial and residential buildings. Small Business Section 179 Expensing adds fire protection as an eligible expenditure to the tax code. Previously, qualified small businesses were allowed to fully expense purchases such as computers and other equipment up to an annual cap of $500,000; the cap was increase to $1 million annual deduction and includes the fire protection. This is for commercial buildings only.

Spearheading the fire-sprinkler initiative was Jim Langevin, who represents the district where The Station nightclub occurred in 2003 in West Warwick, RI. The fire, caused by pyrotechnics that ignited unapproved sound insulation on the ceiling and walls, killed 100 people and injured 230. Fire experts agree that most, if not all, of the deaths could have been prevented if the building had been equipped with a fire-sprinkler system.

More information is available from your Congressional representative, licensed fire sprinkler contractors, and the National Fire Sprinkler Association website. You may also contact the LFRA Community Safety Division.