NFPA praises the recent passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which offers significant incentives for fire sprinkler installation.
“Our research time and again stresses the life-saving importance of fire sprinkler protection,” says NFPA President Jim Pauley. “The financial incentives allowed by this act will undoubtedly lead to safer establishments throughout the U.S.”
Under the new act, small businesses can expense building improvement purchases tied to fire protection systems, including fire sprinkler retrofits, up to $1 million in each year of the expense. Moreover, sprinkler installations in commercial settings and other larger buildings can be fully expensed until 2022. After 2022, the amount allowed to be expensed gradually declines. Retrofits for residential high-rises owned by a business would qualify for the incentive.
For decades, fire safety professionals have advocated for bolstering fire sprinkler laws. “While fire chief for the Louisville, Kentucky, Fire Department, we implemented the first proactive, high-rise sprinkler retrofit ordinance in the country,” says Russ Sanders, regional director for NFPA’s Central Region. “We were working with Mayor Jerry Abramson, who was also the president of the USA Conference of Mayors, in drafting the local ordinance. Simultaneously, during the early ’90s, we were also working with Congressman Ron Mazzoli in drafting federal legislation that would offset sprinkler installation costs, which was the genesis of the new tax act.”
NFPA and other sprinkler advocates—including the National Fire Sprinkler Association and American Fire Sprinkler Association—have also supported federal sprinkler incentives. All organizations have championed for the passage of the Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act, which was introduced soon after The Station Nightclub Fire in 2003 and would have offered its own financial incentives for installation.
Research continually supports the necessity of fire sprinklers. According to NFPA’s 2017 “U.S. Experience with Sprinklers” report:
• the civilian fire death rate per 1,000 reported fires was 87 percent lower in properties with sprinklers than in properties with no automatic extinguishing systems
• the average firefighter fireground injury per 1,000 reported fires was 67 percent lower where sprinklers were present than in fires with no automatic extinguishing systems
• sprinklers were effective at controlling the fire in 96 percent of fires in which they operated
The new act does not offer incentives for sprinklering new, one- and two-family homes. NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative is currently working with North American advocates in getting sprinkler requirements adopted across North America. When installed in new homes, fire sprinklers can be cost-effective.
If you have any questions regarding the sprinkler allowances in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, please contact us.