R.I. Fire Sprinklers Tax Break Bill Stalls; Proponents Remain Optimistic


A bill entitling business owners to a tax credit if they are forced to install sprinklers or new fire alarms has stalled in Rhode Island’s General Assembly. The bill’s supporters, however, say they are hopeful it could still pass before the end of the 2007 legislative session.

The bill would ease some of the fire code restrictions imposed on businesses following a February 2003 fire at a West Warwick, R.I., nightclub that killed 100 people.

Business owners who need to install new fire alarms or sprinklers would be entitled to a tax credit of up to $10,000, although they would not be eligible to claim it until 2009.

In addition, the legislation would give certain businesses with older, functioning alarms until 2012 to upgrade to a more modern alarm system. Businesses that lack a fire alarm system entirely would have until 2009 to install one.

Rep. Peter Ginaitt, the bill’s lead sponsor, told the Associated Press that the legislation was “almost there” and that there was a chance it could pass before the General Assembly concludes the session.

“We don’t want to leave here without something approved,” Ginaitt, a West Warwick Democrat, told the news service.

Rhode Island lawmakers developed a new state fire code after The Station nightclub disaster. The code largely eliminates the grandfathering clauses that allowed public buildings to avoid upgrades required under new building rules, and also required more sprinklers and alarms.

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