The city of Kenai, Alaska, recently passed an ordinance that provides a homeowner tax credit for the installation of home fire sprinklers. Homeowners who install sprinklers will receive a tax credit up to the total cost of installation, or two dollars per square foot for the size of their home, not including their garage.
Terry Bookey, a member of the Kenai City Council and a former Kenai firefighter, spoke at NFPA's Home Fire Sprinkler Summit in Chicago and said that he's seen ruin caused by home fires. "And I know devastation would be reduced if home fire sprinklers were more widespread," he said. "So not only do fire sprinklers protect lives and property, they also provide an increased level of protection for myself and my fellow firefighters when we respond to home fires."
Even one of the most outspoken community critics of home fire sprinklers, the Kenai Peninsula Builder’s Association, has publicly supported the new tax credit program, according to Bookey.
He says based on statistical data from the previous five years in Kenai, the city expects to have a reduced property tax revenue to the city of about $50,000 a year. "But much more important than the financial impacts is the fact that we’re going to have an increased number of our citizens living in safer homes," said Mr. Bookey.
"I think the most important thing that other communities can take away from what Kenai did is not to give up and to think outside the box," he said. "In the end, it’s not how we reach our goal, but the fact that we do reach our goal. We took a very novel approach and we’re going to see realization of the goal, to have homes constructed with home fire sprinklers."