Fire News from Around the World

St. Paul, Minnesota Earns First-Ever Innovation in Code Administration Award

Slightly more than a decade ago, several fatal dwelling fires in St. Paul, Minnesota prompted city officials to take a closer look at how they could help protect vulnerable citizens. Until that time, Saint Paul performed fire safety inspections in only commercial and multi-family residential properties. The community of almost 300,000 wanted something done to protect renters, including those in one and two-family dwellings.

St. Paul’s Department of Safety and Inspections (DSI) initiated a new Residential Life-Safety Inspection Program that took effect by local ordinance in March, 2007. To provide incentive for building owners to maintain safer buildings, a second ordinance was passed to link inspection outcomes to inspection frequency. The connection rewards improved life-safety and property maintenance while allowing the city to focus its efforts on other properties that need it the most.

The city hadn’t anticipated the impact of adding more than 15,000 one- and two-family rental properties that would more than double the number of building safety inspections, but St. Paul has made it work without a corresponding staff increase.

The successful program outcomes resulted in the City of St. Paul Department of Safety and Inspections being the 2017 honoree of the International Code Council’s Innovation in Code Administration Award. The award was presented May 10 to DSI Fire Safety Manager Angie Wiese, P.E., CBO, and Building Official Steve Ubl at the ICC Washington, DC office as part of Building Safety Month celebrations.


Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act Reintroduced In House and Senate

On Thursday, March 9th, Senator Susan Collins (ME) and Senator Tom Carper (DE) introduced S. 602, the Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act. Congressman Tom Reed (NY-23) and Congressman Jim Langevin (RI-2) introduced identical legislation, H.R. 1481, in the House. The bill creates a tax incentive for building owners to retrofit properties with automatic fire sprinkler systems.

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 the cost of retrofitting a building with an automatic sprinkler system.  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 2015, there were 1,345,500 fires reported in the United States, leading to 3,280 civilian fire deaths, 15,700 civilian injuries, and $14.3 billion in property damage.  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%.


Vision 20/20 Offers Free Home Safety Visit Video Guide

What’s involved in doing Home Safety Visits?

You can learn about developing an effective home safety visit program at the Vision 20/20 Guide to Home Safety Visits website.

This site is full of tips, ideas and suggestions, whether you are starting fresh or are looking for ideas on how to improve your existing program.