DALLAS — The American Fire Sprinkler Association has selected Congressman Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) as its Fire Sprinkler Advocate of 2007 in recognition of his leadership in promoting fire and life safety through the Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act of 2007, H.R. 1742. During a special presentation on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sept. 5, 2007, the Democrat from Rhode Island received AFSA’s Fire Sprinkler Advocate of the Year Award for his efforts to protect lives and property by reintroducing the bill in the House March 28 of this year.
“I am honored and humbled to receive this award,” said Langevin. “It certainly never crossed my mind that I would receive any recognition for this effort. I simply saw a need in the wake of a tragic event in my home state and sought to fix it the best way I knew how – with legislation.”
Rep. Langevin, chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emerging Threats, Cybersecurity and Science, and Technology, is a member of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, the largest caucus in Congress. Sixteen industry groups including the American Fire Sprinkler Association and all 45 members of the Congressional Fire Services Institute National Advisory Committee, which includes all major National Fire Service organizations, support the bill.
The Fire Sprinkler Advocate Award was presented by AFSA Vice Chairman of the Board and Chairman of the Legislative Committee Larry Thibodeau and AFSA President Steve Muncy.
Muncy noted that Langevin is serious about the Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act.
“The Station nightclub fire [that left 100 dead and more than 200 people injured in West Warwick, R.I. on Feb. 20, 2003] heightened the awareness of fire issues for many people, and Rep. Langevin immediately understood the role that fire sprinklers could have played in saving lives,” Muncy said. “He is deeply committed to seeing this legislation passed and is working hard to achieve that goal.”
The Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act of 2007 amends the Internal Revenue Code to provide for accelerated depreciation of five years for automatic fire sprinkler systems installed in existing occupancies, as opposed to the current 27.5- or 39-year period for installations in residential, rental, and non-residential real property. The bi-partisan legislation aims to amend the Internal Revenue Code to provide an incentive to business owners for retrofitting existing buildings with sprinklers. Specifically, this legislation will reduce the tax depreciation time for retrofitting sprinklers in nonresidential real property from 39 years to only five. H.R. 1742 is companion legislation to Senate Bill 582.
The 43-year-old Congressman commented, “I am hopeful that this recognition will help to raise an awareness of the work that still needs to be done. This legislation needs to pass if we, as a nation, are going to try to save more lives.”
Langevin urged everyone to write their representative asking for their support of this legislation and thanking them if they have already pledged their support of the legislation.
“Together, we can make a tremendous impact by providing a financial incentive to install sprinklers in every office, restaurant, and nightclub in the country,” Langevin said. “It is my strong hope that my colleagues will join me in supporting and quickly passing this important measure, before tragedy strikes another community.”
Following the deaths of nine firefighters in the tragic Charleston, S.C., furniture warehouse fire in June, many communities have renewed the call for sprinkler systems, which authorities believe could have stopped — or at least delayed — the spread of the deadly blaze (July, p. 1). The Charleston furniture store would have qualified for the proposed fire sprinkler incentive under the proposed legislation.
With its recognition of Langevin, AFSA continues its history of honoring those outside of the industry who promote automatic fire sprinkler systems. AFSA created the Fire Sprinkler Advocate of the Year Award to recognize these individuals whose efforts have significantly advanced life-safety and property protection by promoting the installation of fire sprinklers.
Additional information is available at www.firesprinkler.org.