City Provides Financial Incentive For Building Owners To Install Fire Sprinklers

A fire sprinkler system can save lives. According to the National Fire Protection Association, wet-pipe sprinklers help reduce the incidence of death in house fires by 82 percent and property damage by 68 percent. Unfortunately, owners of older homes and commercial buildings are often reluctant to invest money in retrofitting the buildings with sprinkler systems because of the cost. However, one city has come up with a financial incentive they hope will get property owners on board with the idea of installing fire sprinklers. Here's more information about the program, and a few ideas on where you can find money to upgrade your building.

Redwood City Loan Forgiveness Program

In July 2015, the Redwood City Council passed a resolution called the Fire Safety First Program aimed at getting owners of older residential buildings to adhere to a new ordinance requiring them to retrofit their properties with fire sprinkler systems. People who participate in the program can receive a loan from the city to purchase and install the system. This loan may eventually be forgiven if the building owners agree to keep any rent increases at or below 5 percent per year for 5 years.

In addition to making the buildings safer for tenants, the city is hoping to keep rental rates at an affordable level.

The resolution was inspired by two major fires that broke out in the city in 2013 that killed one person and displaced hundreds of others. Rebuilding after a major fire can be very difficult, and it is hoped that the sprinkler systems will reduce the amount of fire damage so owners have a better chance of bouncing back and tenants won't be left scrambling for some place to live after these types of incidents.

Finding Money for a New Sprinkler System

It is uncertain how long the program will be in effect, but there will only be $1.5 million in funding available the first year. If you don't live in Redwood City or don't feel you would qualify for a loan from the city, there are other ways to find money for making needed updates to your property.

A good place to start looking would be at the government websites Grants.gov and SBA.com (Small Business Administration). Both the state and federal government have programs that provide funding for all sorts of projects. Sometimes the money is available in the form of grants that don't have to be paid back. Other times, the funding will be a loan or loan guarantee. For instance, the Small Business Administration has the Real Estate and Equipment Loan program that provides small businesses will money for purchasing or improving real estate.

Sometimes private companies, associations, or organizations will also give away grants or provides loans to people so they can make improvements in their businesses. For example, the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation gives grants to people for building or renovating a property or buying equipment. You can often find these grants by doing a search on the Internet. If you already belong to an association, it may be profitable to ask if the organization has grant or loan programs that can help your business. Your local Chamber of Commerce may also be able to provide some leads.

Fire sprinkler systems can cost anywhere from $2,000 and $16,000, depending on the quality. If you're strapped for cash but want to upgrade your property, it's worth the effort to conduct research into grant and loan opportunities offered by government or private organizations. For more ideas on ways to get money to pay for a fire sprinkler system or to have one installed, connect with a fire sprinkler company in your area.  


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