City loans $ for sprinklers

Sunday, January 1, 2006

ANNAPOLIS, Md.--The "Black Friday" fire here that destroyed a historic building has sparked interest in a new city program that provides low-interest loans to building owners who want to install sprinkler systems.
Mayor Ellen Moyer said the city had just two inquiries prior to the Nov. 25 fire and has received two already in the short time after. Approved in the spring of 2005, the program is in its initial stages.
It just received funding in the current fiscal year, which began on July 1, 2005.
Moyer and the city council conceived the loan program, which she believes is the first of its kind, in response to complaints about the cost of installing sprinkler systems. Banks are reluctant to make loans for sprinklers unless it's part of a building loan, she said.
Jeff Hugo, a regional manager for the National Fire Sprinkler Association, said he's never heard of a city loan program for sprinklers. "I've heard of loan programs for exterior modifications, but not for sprinklers; this sounds very unique."