We’ve heard some interesting testimony on S. 860, a bill concerning fire sprinkler systems. A tax credit could apply to new construction and existing construction that choose to retrofit. Several members of the fire protection community were present underscoring the need for sprinkler systems simply because they save lives (citizens and firemen) and the loss of property is reduced. The most moving testimony came from family members that have experienced the death of loved ones to fires. We heard from courageous widows of firemen who lost their husbands in the line of duty. We witnessed parents of the students that were killed in the beach house fire this summer. The subcommittee process is very dependent on public testimony, but I was inspired that these bold citizens would come forth and revisit their loss for the benefit of decisions made by their government.
There are several proposals on the table with S 860. We could mandate sprinklers in all new construction from residential to commercial. We could mandate sprinkler installation in all dwellings whether new or existing. Also, there is the idea of no mandates, but provide tax incentives for the public to decide for themselves what kind of protection they want for their property.
S. 860 contains language to prevent utilities from charging exorbitant rates for tap-on fees for those installing these systems. This bill contains mandates to insurance companies to offer discounts to those that have sprinkler protection.
Present was a representative from the department of insurance telling us that some insurance companies are already offering incentives.
As you can see, this is one of those bills that will be difficult to deal with. Ya’ll know I have much more faith in market driven solutions than I do with government solutions, so let the debate begin.
I welcome your thoughts, as this is a gut wrenching issue.