10th Anniversary of Station Nightclub Fire and Status of Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act

A Joint Statement from the following organizations:

American Fire Sprinkler Association Common Voices Congressional Fire Services Institute Fire Team USA International Association of Arson Investigators International Association of Fire Chiefs International Code Council International Fire Service Training Association International Society of Fire Service Instructors National Association of State Fire Marshals National Fallen Firefighters Foundation National Fire Protection Association National Fire Sprinkler Association National Volunteer Fire Council North American Fire Training Directors

On January 26, the world watched a great tragedy unfold as 235 people were killed in a nightclub fire in Santa Maria, Brazil. The United States fire service extends its deepest sympathies to the victims’ families as they cope with this tragic loss. The deaths of these individuals is made all the more tragic due to the preventable nature of their deaths, and further highlights the long overdue need for Congress to take substantive steps to encourage safer buildings and prevent future tragedies like this from occurring in the United States. [caption id="attachment_2805" align="alignright" width="346"] Memorials on the site of the Station nightclub fire, which killed 100 people on February 20, 2003.[/caption] The threat of fire spans all nations. The recent tragedy in Brazil immediately invokes memories of mass-fatality fires in the United States, such as the 2003 Station nightclub fire in West Warwick, Rhode Island, which killed 100 occupants. As in Brazil, a simple fire sprinkler system could have drastically improved survivability rates for victims of the Station nightclub fire. As the nation mourned their loss in 2003, it watched as members of Congress introduced the Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act to assist property owners in retrofitting their properties with fire sprinklers. Ten years later, Congress has failed to pass the Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act. Since the Station nightclub fire and the original introduction of the Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act, fires in the United States have killed nearly 30,000 people, injured almost 100,000, and caused countless billions of dollars in damage. The proven technology of fire sprinklers has continued to demonstrate increased survivability rates in fires of 86% and reduced damage rates by 69%. Every day, far too many people are dying preventable deaths in buildings that are not sprinklered. With the 10th anniversary of the Station nightclub fire on February 20, 2013, Congress can honor the memory of the Station nightclub fire victims by reintroducing and passing the Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act and helping property owners make their buildings safer. There will be another dangerous fire in a crowded building, the only question is whether the people inside will have a chance to escape. Congress must lead the way for safer buildings in the United States by passing the Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act.
The Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act would allow owners of small- and medium-sized properties to fully deduct the cost of a fire sprinkler system up to $125,000. Assuming a per square foot retrofit cost of $2.50 per square foot, this could cover a structure up to 50,000 square feet. This will allow coverage of a large majority of high-fire-risk properties such as off-campus housing, nightclubs, nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The Act would also provide a financial incentive to high-rise building owners to install fire sprinkler systems by reducing the depreciation schedule from 39 and 27.5 years to 15 years. The reduction would put fire sprinkler improvements more in line with the current tax code that allows 15-year depreciation for leasehold improvements. In the United States, there are nearly 10,000 high-rise fires annually; they are some of the most deadly fires for civilians and firefighters. More information on the Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act.