ESA Advocates Balanced Approach to Fire Safety

The Electronic Security Association's (ESA) Government Relations Department is requesting Congress include amendments to H.R. 1792 and S. 1035, the Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act of 2011 that would provide a balanced approach of Fire Suppression + Detection = Fire Protection.

On May 5, Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL), along with Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) introduced H.R. 1792 and on May 19, Senator Thomas Carper introduced S. 1035.  The bills amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to include automated fire sprinkler systems as section 179 property and classify certain automated fire sprinkler systems as 15-year property for purposes of depreciation.  This legislation is similar to the legislation Rep. Langevin has introduced the past few Congress' since a night club fire in his Rhode Island district in 2003 killed 100 people.  Presently, a fire sprinkler retrofit in a commercial building is depreciated over 39 years and a residential building over 27 and one-half years.

According to Rep. Schock's office, this legislation "avoids state imposed mandates and specifically makes fire sprinkler systems eligible to be included in Section 179 of the tax code.  Section 179 already allows small and medium sized business to fully expense certain types of equipment purchase like machines, equipment, vehicles and computers.  This change would allow small and medium sized property owners to fully deduct the cost of sprinklers systems up to $125,000." 

ESA believes that with separate safety benefits available from both automated fire sprinkler systems and life safety fire and smoke alarms, one system should not take precedent over the other. Proponents of fire safety in the US congress should support a balanced approach which includes both early fire detection and fire suppression. Automated fire sprinkler systems do not provide early warning notifications for building occupants. For this reason, building and fire safety codes require the installation of both sprinklers and fire detection systems. ESA is providing members of Congress with the argument for a balanced approach and is recommending legislative changes to H.R. 1792 and S. 1035 to include life safety fire and smoke alarms.

Currently, the bills have been referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means and Senate Committee on Finance.

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