Legislative Issues

September 22- H.R. 3591, the Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act.

On Tuesday, September 22nd, Congressmen Tom Reed (NY-23) and James Langevin (RI-2) introduced H.R. 3591, the Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act. Senators Susan Collins (ME) and Thomas Carper (DE) introduced identical legislation, S. 2068, in the Senate on the same day.

First introduced following the deadly Station Nightclub fire in West Warwick, RI in 2003, the legislation creates a tax incentive for property owners to retrofit existing buildings with automatic sprinkler systems. Specifically, the bill would amend the Internal Revenue Code to include automated fire sprinkler system retrofits as a section 179 property. This would allow small and medium-sized businesses to deduct up to $125,000 of the cost of retrofitting a building with an automatic sprinkler systems. Additionally, the bill would classify automated fire sprinkler system retrofits in high-rise buildings as a 15-year property for purposes of depreciation. Currently, the depreciation schedule for a fire sprinkler retrofit is 39-years in a commercial building and 27 ½- years in a residential building

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), in 2014, there were 1,298,000 fires reported in the United States, leading to 3,275 civilian fire deaths, 15,775 civilian injuries, and $11.6 billion in property damage. When you include the indirect cost of fire, such as lost economic activity, the cost is closer to $108 billion annually. Studies by NFPA have concluded that buildings outfitted with sprinklers reduce the death rate per fire by at least 57% and decrease the property damage by up to 68%.

H.R. 3591 has been referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means. S. 2068 was referred to the Senate Finance Committee. CFSI will continue to provide updates as the bills move through the legislative process.

July 10 – Fiscal Year 2016 Homeland Security Funding Moving Through Congress

On Thursday, July 9th, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security approved a draft Fiscal Year 2016 spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security. The bill funds the department at $39.3 billion, $337 million less than the current fiscal year. The full House Appropriations Committee is expected to consider the bill on Tuesday, July 14th.

Several fire service programs are included in the bill. The Assistance to Firefighters (FIRE) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants programs are funded at $340 million each. This is the same level the programs were funded at in both Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015. Additionally, the bill funds the United States Fire Administration (USFA) at $44 million and the Urban Search and Rescue System (US&R) at $35.18 million. Both were also funded at the same levels the past two fiscal years.

On June 18th, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of the FY16 DHS spending bill, S. 1619. The Senate bill contains the same spending levels for FIRE, SAFER, USFA, and US&R as the bill currently under consideration by the House committee.

The IAFC’s Government Relations and Policy department represents the unified voice of America’s fire chiefs in Washington, D.C. The IAFC works with both the Executive Branch and Congress to ensure that federal laws, regulations, and policies meet the needs and requirements of the local fire chief. From Congressional hearings to meetings with Cabinet secretaries, the IAFC advocates on your behalf.

One of the IAFC’s Government Relations and Policy’s department’s main efforts is to pass legislation to create and maintain programs that help America’s fire service leadership. On Capitol Hill, we address a variety of administrative and operational issues that span the broad scope of the fire and emergency service.

Affordable Care Act
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA or ACA), is one of the most significant reforms to the U.S. health care system in over a generation. Since its passage, the federal government and others have been analyzing the act and determining how to implement this legislation, but one thing is clear: it will significantly impact both fire department administration and operations. The legislation is extensive, with many moving pieces, and public opinion about the bill is highly polarized. Therefore, it’s critical that fire department leaders fully understand the facts.

Communications
Communication technology and applications are a lifeline for first responders. IAFC works actively with the response community, government and industry to get it right.

EMS
The world of EMS is rapidly changing and IAFC is there to ensure the voice of fire-based EMS is heard.

Federal Taxation
The tax system can be complicated. IAFC works to make sure that fire department leaders understand the ins and outs of taxation issues and fights to preserve firefighter benefits.

Fire Prevention
Fire prevention legislation needs to be led by the experts…not politicians or private interests. The IAFC educates elected officials on the issues and on-the-ground impact.  Whether it’s sprinklers, campus fire safety, or other fire prevention issues, IAFC keeps policy focused on public and responder safety.

Grant Funding
Now more than ever, the local fire service needs access to federal support for its all-hazards mission. IAFC fights to ensure that federally funded programs remain a viable option for fire departments increasingly charged to “do more with less”.

Hazardous Materials
The national hazardous materials landscape is one that touches every community.  From rail and trucking lines to pipelines and tank farms and from each car on the road to each house on the street, hazardous materials are a part of our daily lives. Local first responders must have a leading voice in national policies that shape hazmat handling, transportation, training and response.

Homeland Security
Fire departments are the first line of defense against human-made and natural threats to our nation; therefore, fire chiefs need to be on the front line of national policy discussions regarding preparedness, response, resiliency, funding, training, and more.

PSOB Program
The IAFC is committed to ensuring that federal survivor benefits remain funded, accessible and fair, and to helping survivors understand the resources available and how to apply for them.

Volunteer and Combination
The Volunteer and Combination fire service stands as the backbone to many of America’s communities. The IAFC is committed to ensuring that volunteer and combination chiefs are involved in national policy discussions and is working to protect their ability to serve their communities.

Wildland Fire
The IAFC led the charge to ensure local fire and emergency service leaders had a voice in national wildland fire policy and programming. The local fire and emergency services need to remain an integral part of the national wildland fire framework so that they can successfully work with their federal and state counterparts to combat one of the fastest growing natural threats to the U.S.