Tax breaks for sprinklers in Illinois

New law allows fire districts to reward homeowners for installing sprinkler systems
Wednesday, October 1, 2008

CAROL STREAM, Ill.--Fire sprinkler advocates here are done celebrating legislation passed in August that allows fire districts to give tax breaks or other financial incentives to residents who install sprinklers. The task at hand now is figuring out the best way to structure the program.

“On a statewide basis we’ll be developing some models for fire districts’ trustees to look to model their programs after,” said Tom Harnsberger, a director of the Illinois Association of Fire Protection Districts, and a trustee of the Carol Stream Fire Protection District here.

Harnsberger and other advocates are thrilled that HB4687, which was introduced in January, is now law. “Frankly I didn’t think we had a chance in hell of getting it through the Legislature-it’s a brand-new concept,” he said.

The bill allows fire districts-the governmental entities in Illinois that oversee fire and emergency protection in specified geographical areas-to provide grants, tax abatements or other incentives to homeowners who install sprinkler systems that are installed and maintained in accordance with NFPA 13D and are certified locally.

The bill is purposely left open, Harnsberger said, so fire districts can design incentives appropriate for their area. The money for the incentives must come from fire district budgets.

The idea is that the fire districts will save expenses-and lives-when more homeowners have sprinkler systems. Harnsberger believes it makes sense to give homeowners who show that they have installed and inspected systems an annual reduction in property taxes.