S.C. sprinkler bill is now law

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

COLUMBIA, S.C.--A bill that provides tax incentives to homes and businesses that install sprinkler systems became law on June 26 when the South Carolina Legislature voted unanimously to override Gov. Mark Sanford's June 11 veto of the bill.
"Participants who put sprinklers in residential or commercial building [where they are not required by law] are eligible for a 25 percent tax break from the local government and eligible to get 25 percent of the cost of the system back from the state of South Carolina," said John Reich, South Carolina fire marshal. "Any time you can save 50 percent on a sprinkler system that's good," he added.
The bill also restricts water purveyors from imposing "unreasonable rates on tap fees and standby fees and it also prohibits the county from assessing the non-required system." That means that if a business spends $50,000 putting in a sprinkler system, the local government can't raise your tax assessment. "Any improvements can not be held against you," Reich said.
Reich called the bill "one of a kind." He said the bill is not perfect, but the long process that led up to the June 26 passage of the bill has been beneficial because the extensive media coverage of the bill has educated people about sprinklers.
Now, Reich and other advocates will be spreading the word about the benefits of the law to local AHJs in the hopes that they'll adopt the ordinance locally. Reich expects considerable interest from local authorities in the coastal communities.
"Any time a local authority wants to invite us down, we're there." He will head to Buford this weekend where Habitat for Humanity is installing sprinkler systems in some homes. Reich wants to talk to the media and let AHJs know that he's available to "come down with the sprinkler [demonstration] trailer and our Power Point presentation to see if we can't drop that seed [to interest them in passing the bill locally]."