A Letter from President Shane Ray and Board Chair Kent Mezaros
For the past month, NFSA has been providing information to our members for the situation in which we all find ourselves. For more than a year, NFSA has been preparing for a recession and a negative impact event to our industry. The first term of this NFSA administration and Board cycle couldn’t have been more positive for our industry, with double digit growth in most major metro areas across the country and an average of greater than 6% growth nationwide. In 2019, NFSA reported record fire sprinkler shipments. For the first time in our history, residential fire sprinkler shipments were more than 25% of the total number of fire sprinkler heads shipped.
While we find ourselves in the largest international crisis of our lifetimes, we know that our industry will not only respond to this crisis, but will recover with a renewed spirit. As we respond to the short-term and long-term needs of our members, we are also preparing for recovery. We are implementing our recession plan and budget, which modifies our 2020 Operations Plan. While our Annual Seminar and Business and Leadership Conference is cancelled, we have information included within that invites you and your staff, free of charge, to the first ever NFSA Virtual Business and Leadership Conference. You won’t want to miss it from the comfort of your home, or hopefully office by then. We have added many new online classes, all dealing with COVID-19 for free, and we have discounted our NFSA classes from 10% to 50% off.
While the health industry and the medical response teams may not have been prepared for such a widespread pandemic, the response to this event worldwide has been better than in the past, but not as good as it should have been here in the U.S. We have never seen a national emergency of this magnitude, but we have been through the terrorist attacks on 9/11/01, many natural disasters that severely impacted our country, such as Hurricane Katrina, and the financial crash of 2008. The response to these events were widely criticized, and this one will be no different.
NFSA has worked diligently to ensure that fire sprinklers were deemed essential by governments. We reminded every Governor and many, many elected officials across this great country of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 and the Department of Homeland Security spreadsheet that kept us working. At this time, 42 states have stay at home orders in place, and we are monitoring state by state developments on a daily basis. During this time, we have also ensured that fire sprinklers were included within the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). This is a technical correction from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which NFSA has been actively working with many other prominent national associations in Washington, D.C., to ensure that qualified improvement properties (QIP) include accelerated depreciation for fire sprinklers in all commercial buildings, not just small businesses, which was included in the original Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Fire sprinkler systems will no longer be treated like plumbing systems and other building components within the tax code. While we didn’t get other bills passed during this time, still active is the High-Rise Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act, which will ensure residential high-rise buildings receive a 15-year depreciation, and the Public Housing Fire Safely Act, which will provide $25 million dollars per year for ten years to retrofit public housing of the Housing and Urban Development Agency (HUD).
We have been, and we will continue, working to promote the widespread acceptance of the fire sprinkler concept, regardless of good times or bad. The feedback we have received for NFSA’s response to the COVID-19 event has been positive. Please go to our COVID-19 webpage to find information that impacts your company and our industry. Please reach out to our staff and fellow Board, Council, and Committee members if you need assistance getting through this. We welcome your feedback, as mentioned in one of the first articles in National Fire Sprinkler Magazine two years ago following the election of officers. Well, we still mean it and we still seek it. We have been on many calls with our chapters and members across the country in the past few weeks, and for the first time in many years, we convened a full Board of Directors and Councils meeting between regularly scheduled meetings.
We wish you, your families, and your companies/organizations the best during these times.
May God Bless Us All,