ALM Properties, Inc. Page printed from: Automatic Fire Suppression Systems Protect Property from Fires & the Tax Man Buildings equipped with these systems are exempt from real property taxes Christopher J. Caslin 10-11-2011 For property owners who install automatic fire suppression system in their building, buried deep in Title 54 of the New Jersey statutes is some helpful relief on their real-property taxes. Under N.J.S.A. 54:4-3.131, a residential, commercial or industrial building with an automatic fire suppression system that was installed after 1983 and that has been certified as an “automatic fire suppression system” is exempt from real property taxes. According to the statute, an automatic fire suppression system is “a mechanical system designed and equipped to detect a fire, activate an alarm, and suppress or control a fire without the necessity of human intervention and activated as a result of a predetermined temperature rise, rate of rise of temperature, or increase in the level of combustion products.” In general, these systems are designed to detect and extinguish fires without the need for any human intervention and can be found in a variety of configurations and applications. Given the wide range of materials found in today’s environment, chemical-based fire extinguishing agents may be used instead of just water since water may not be effective depending on the uses and surroundings in a particular building. Fire suppression systems can be “engineered” or “pre-engineered.” Engineered systems typically are used for larger projects where the system itself is designed for a specific application, such as a “clean” computer room or an electrical switch room. These systems can dispense a variety of solid and gaseous fire-extinguishing agents. By contrast, pre-engineered systems are less complex, using predesigned components that are capable of delivering both wet and dry chemical-based fire-extinguishing agents, such as potassium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate. These systems can be found in facilities such as commercial kitchens and storage areas, and are commonly used in situations where installing a conventional fire sprinkler system would not be cost effective. Both engineered and pre-engineered systems detect fire through either mechanical or electrical means. When a certain temperature is reached, mechanical detectors separate and release tension on a mechanism; electrical detectors close a circuit that remains open in normal conditions. The piping and nozzle configurations used in each system are dependent upon the type of fire-extinguishing agent the system uses. Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 54:4-3.132, the “enforcing agency” (defined as the enforcing agency in any municipality provided for under the State Uniform Construction Code Act (N.J.S.A. 52:27D-119 et seq.)), which is typically the municipal building or construction official, has the responsibility for determining the eligibility of any proposed automatic fire suppression systems based on a form affidavit prescribed by the Director of the Division of Taxation and submitted to the enforcing agency by a property owner seeking an exemption. The statute provides the enforcing agency with a right of inquiry at any time into the property owner’s claim for exemption and may require the submission of any proof necessary to determine the right of the property owner to such exemption. The enforcing agency can review the cost estimates provided by the property owner and may require documentation in the form of signed contracts, contractor estimates and the like if deemed necessary by the enforcing agency. On-site inspections of the premises to review the installed fire suppression system may also be conducted by the enforcing agency. The Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs is responsible for adopting rules and regulations establishing technical standards for automatic fire suppression systems necessary to qualify those systems for exemption from taxation pursuant to the statute (see N.J.S.A. 54:4-3.137(b)). The enforcing agency must consult with the appropriate subcode officials in determining whether the system conforms with the building and fire protection subcodes and their referenced standards. In addition, and where applicable, the statute requires that the system also conform with the most recently published editions of National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Codes and Standards, specifically standards 13D, 20, 22 and 24. NFPA 13D deals with the design, installation, and maintenance of automatic sprinkler systems for protection against fire hazards in one- and two-family dwellings and manufactured homes. Sprinkler systems installed under this standard are developed on the premise that the origin of a fire will be from a single source/location. NFPA 20 addresses the selection and installation of pumps supplying liquid for private fire protection, which include liquid supplies, suction, discharge, and auxiliary equipment, power supplies, electric drive and control, diesel engine drive and control, and steam turbine drive and control. NFPA 22 provides the minimum requirements for the design, construction, installation, and maintenance of tanks and accessory equipment that supply water for private fire protection, such as gravity tanks, pressure tanks and towers, and foundations. It also provides ways to protect the tanks and equipment against freezing. Finally, NFPA 24 establishes the minimum requirements for the installation of private fire service mains and the appurtenances supplying automatic sprinkler systems, private fire hydrants, standpipe systems and hose houses. NFPA 24 is applicable to combined service mains used to carry water for fire service and other uses with some exceptions (i.e., underground mains serving sprinkler systems designed and installed in accordance with NFPA 13D). With the exception of NFPA 22 (which is current as of 2008), the standards are current as of 2010. All of the standards are scheduled to be updated in 2013. An automatic fire suppression system is eligible for an exemption only if it conforms to each of the standards as are applicable to the type of suppression system and the installations appurtenant to such system. The statute does provide some flexibility, however; a system is not deemed ineligible because it is in a new building or because it only provides coverage to part of a building. When the enforcing agency has determined that the equipment, facility or system installed in a building was “designed primarily as an automatic fire suppression system in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs” (see N.J.S.A. 54:4-3.133), the enforcing agency may then certify that the system is exempt from taxation. For new construction, a decision granting or denying certification of the system must be made by the enforcing agency prior to issuance of the construction permit with written notice of the decision being given to the applicant at that time. Subject to the Administrative Procedure Act (N.J.S.A. 52:14B-1 et seq.), the Director of the Division of Taxation is responsible for adopting rules and regulations necessary for the proper certification of a tax exemption and the form of the certificate to be issued (see N.J.S.A. 54:4-3.137(a)). If the enforcing agency grants certification, a certificate is issued to the applicant containing information identifying the system and its cost along with any other information as may be required from time to time by the Division of Taxation. A copy of the certificate is retained on file by the enforcing agency and another copy is sent to the assessor of the taxing district in which the property is located. The exemption commences in the tax year following the year in which certification was granted. The amount of the exemption is governed by N.J.S.A. 54:4-3.136, which provides that real property containing a “certified automatic fire suppression system may have exempted annually from the assessed valuation of the real property a sum equal to the remainder of the assessed valuation of the real property with the automatic fire suppression system included, minus the assessed valuation of the real property without the automatic fire suppression system.” If a property owner disagrees with the findings of the enforcing agency, N.J.S.A. 54:4-3.135(a) allows the owner to apply to the construction board of appeals for the county in which the property is located to review the enforcing agency’s determination. Property owners may seek relief from any determination or inaction on the part of the assessor by filing an appeal with the county board of taxation or the tax court, as appropriate, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 54:4-3.135(b). The enforcing agency does have the power to revoke a certificate that has been issued to a property owner if: (a) the certificate was obtained by fraud or misrepresentation; (b) the property owner has failed to proceed substantially with the construction, reconstruction, installation or acquisition of an automatic fire suppression system; (c) the mechanical system to which the certificate relates is no longer used for the primary purpose of providing automatic fire suppression and is being used for a different primary purpose; or (d) the property owner has so departed from the equipment, design and construction previously certified by the enforcing agency that, in the opinion of the enforcing agency, the automatic fire suppression system is not suitable and reasonably adequate for the purpose of providing automatic fire suppression (see N.J.S.A. 54:4-3.134). Property owners with automatic fire suppression systems in some or all of the buildings they own may want to take a closer look at whether they qualify for this exemption if they are not already taking advantage of it. Caslin is a Hackensack-based member of Cole, Schotz, Meisel, Forman & Leonard. His practice focuses on financing, acquisition, leasing and development of commercial real estate. Associated Fire Protection Fire Extinguisher Training: OSHA: Associated Fire Protection provides OSHA required fire extinguisher training.* Our expert instructors will come to your facility and perform the training onsite, providing the reassurance that your employees will be properly prepared to use fire extinguishers. This will make your facility a safer place to work,  provide protection for your valuable property and avoid costly downtime. Expert Instruction: Our instructors will describe the different types of fires, the fire extinguishers available to fight them, and what actions to take before approaching a fire.     Interactive Education: Our instructors will educate your staff on the proper way to put out a fire using an extinguisher. Each employee will have the opportunity to use a fire extinguisher on a live or simulated fire. ** After the demonstration, our instructor will advise you how to set up an action plan for employees to use in case of a fire.

Certification: Upon completion of the program, you will receive a Certificate of Training indicating that your company has complied with OSHA regulations. Cost: Cost estimate is based on size of group and type of training, indoor or outdoor. Large group discounts are available. Contact Associated Fire Protection at 973-684-7250 for a price quote. On-Site Training: AFP instructors will come to your facility and work around your schedules providing you with greater flexibility. *OSHA Regulations: 1910.157(g)(1) Where the employer has provided portable fire extinguishers for employee use in the workplace, the employer shall also provide an educational program to familiarize employees with the general principles of fire extinguisher use and the hazards involved with incipient stage fire fighting. 1910.157(g)(2) The employer shall provide the education required in paragraph (g)(1) of this section upon initial employment and at least annually thereafter. ** Customers with outdoor facilities suited for live fire training sessions must call their local fire department to determine their requirements for an open fire. If permits are required, the customer must obtain them. Customers with outdoor facilities not suited for live fire training may opt for the indoor educational session which includes a video presentation and hands on training with an inactive fire extinguisher on a simulated fire.

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Smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in a reported fire in half. Many people may believe that their home is adequately protected if they have at least one smoke alarm in the home. However, smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home (including the basement), outside each sleeping area, and inside each bedroom. Larger homes may need additional smoke alarms. Interconnection of smoke alarms or a fire alarm system is highly recommended; when one smoke alarm sounds, they all do. (This is particularly important in larger or multi-story homes, where the sound from distant smoke alarms may be reduced to the point that it may not be loud enough to provide proper warning, especially for sleeping individuals.) A licensed electrician can install hard-wired multiple-station alarms. Wireless alarms, which manufacturers have more recently begun producing, can be installed by the homeowner.

Test stand-alone smoke alarms at least monthly by pushing the test button. If an alarm “chirps,” warning the battery is low, replace the battery right away. All smoke alarms, including alarms that use 10-year batteries and those that are hard-wired alarms, should be replaced when they’re 10 years old (or sooner) if they do not respond properly when tested.  In more than half of the reported home fires in which the smoke alarms were present but did not operate even though the fire was large enough, batteries were missing or disconnected. Nuisance alarms were the leading reason for disconnected alarms. Never remove or disable a smoke alarm. Download NFPA’s free smoke alarm safety checklist (PDF) to test your knowledge about your home’s smoke alarms. Need to know more about smoke alarms? Information provided by NFPA and “Check Your Smoke Alarm Facts” by Mike Hazel.   The NJ Department of Community Affairs (DCA) announced that all nursing homes in New Jersey will now be required to have automatic sprinkler systems. The rule originally went into effect on January 2, 2007 and owners had three years to bring their facilities into compliance. The rule amends the retrofit requriements of the State’s Uniform Fire Code (N.J.A. C5:70-4.7), which previously had allowed nursing homes constructed of non-combustible materials to be exempt from the sprinkler system requirment. These type structures, however, still pose the risk of fatal fire due to combustible building contents. There were two fatal nursing home fires in 2003: one in Hartford, Connecticut in which 16 residents died and one in Nashville, Tennesse resulting in 15 deaths. Both of these homes were constructed of non-combustible materials and did not have sprinkler systems. Analysis by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) of data from 1994-1998 shows that there were 10.8 deaths per 1,000 fires in nursing homes without sprinklers versus 1.9 deaths per 1,000 fires when automatic suppression systems were present. in July, 2004, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report on nursing home fire safety. This report was prepared in response to the fatal fires mentioned above. The GAO report begins its findings by pointing out that “sprinklers are considered to be the single most effective fire protection feature” and that “there has never been a multiple-death fire in a fully sprinklered nursing home.” For more information on the new nursing home sprinkler requirements contact Associated Fire Protection at or call us at 866-812-3473 The NYC Department of Buildings have passed several new local laws that may affect our customers with buildings in New York City.  The new local laws are: Local Law 58/09 Color Coding, Effective 3/2/2010 Local Law 60/09 Cutting and Capping, Effective 3/2/2010 Local Law 63/09 Pressure testing, Effective 2/4/2010 Local Law 64/09 Standpipe Pressurized Alarm Systems, Effective 2/4/2010

Local Law 58/09 Color Coding, Effective 3/2/2010 A new local law 58/09 concerning the painting of sprinkler and standpipe has been made effective as of 3/2/2010 and is retroactive.  The law states: “All exposed standpipes and sprinkler piping must be painted red.”  There are exceptions, such as branch piping.  The new law applies to all buildings- no matter the size or occupancy. Dedicated standpipe valve handles must be painted RED Combination standpipe valve handles must be painted YELLOW Dedicated sprinkler valve handles must be painted GREEN For buildings under construction: • The special inspector will confirm compliance before the walls are enclosed.  The color-coding certificate must be kept on the premises at all times for Buildings and Fire Department inspections. For existing buildings: • Owners of buildings with exposed sprinkler piping and standpipes must comply and hire one of four types of contractors to certify the color-coding. The color-coding certificate must be kept on the premises at all times for Buildings and Fire Department inspections.

Local Law 60/09 Cutting and Capping, Effective 3/2/2010 A new local law 60/09 concerning cutting and capping of standpipe and sprinklers states: “Permits are required to cut and cap standpipes or sprinklers.” • Authorized Licenses: Only licensed master plumbers or master fire suppression piping contractors may cut and cap standpipes or sprinklers during demolition. • Local law incorporates TPPN 3/7: For demolitions and gut rehabilitations, a registered design professional must have a variance to remove damaged or inoperable sprinklers. This filing must include a damage report and explanation why the system can’t be restored. (The design professional must first file the variance with the Fire Department and have FDNY approval before filing it with the Buildings Department) Local Law 63/09 Pressure Testing, Effective 2/4/2010 Freezing temperatures can damage a pressurized system. Compressors without air dryers generate moisture in the line, which can freeze. Exposed valves can also freeze, causing the system to depressurize and triggerering the alarm. The new local law 63/09 concerning pressure testing states: • New or Altered Sprinkler or Standpipe Systems: A licensed master plumber or licensed fire suppression piping contractor must conduct hydrostatic pressure testing. (Read local law 63/09 for limited excpetions for standpipe in freezing conditions) • Removing Stories: A licensed master plumber or licensed fire suppression piping contractor must conduct hydrostatic pressure testing before work begins. • New Buildings Under Construction: An initial standpipe hydrostatic pressure test must be performed when the building reaches 75 feet high; additional tests are required when the building reaches 175 feet high and every 100 feet thereafter. • Enlargement Triggering a New Standpipe System or Addition to an Existing Standpipe System: A hydrostatic pressure test is required at every 75 feet in height added to the system. Local Law 64/09 Standpipe Pressurized Alarm Systems, Effective 2/4/2010 The new local law 64/09 concerning standpipe pressurized alarm system states: • Vacant Building Being Demolished: Existing standpipes must be dry standpipes and have an air-pressurized alarm. New Buildings Higher than 75 Feet: Temporary and permanent dry standpipes must have an air-pressurized alarm. • Prior Notification for Scheduled Work: Contractors must notify the Fire Department before any planned alarm dactivaction. • Out of Service Standpipes: Contractors must notify the Fire Department. • Site Safety Manager’s Log: Alarm activations, inspections and repairs must be logged. • Installation Applications: A registered design professional must file the application. • Installation Permits: A licensed master plumber or licensed master fire suppression piping contractor and a licensed electrician must have a permit. For more information regarding these new laws, contact Associated Fire Protection at or call our customer service department at  866-812-3473 . Information taken from: NYC Buildings Standpipes & Sprinkler New Safety Regulations Flyer In an article posted by 1010 wins, click here to read full article, officials are conducting more and more inspections, and writing up more and more violations, on Jersey Shore vacation home rentals after a January fire in which firefighters found six beds in an attic. The most common deficiency they are finding is dead batteries in the smoke detectors. Few of us realize the importance of functional smoke detectors in the home. Smoke detectors provide an early warning in the event of a fire, which may allow sufficient time to reach safety. Experts report that consumers may cut their risk of dying in a home fire in half simply by having a smoke detector installed. It is not only important to have multiple smoke detectors installed in the home, but also to make sure those detectors are working properly. Smoke detectors most often fail because of missing, dead or disconnected batteries. The NFPA recommends that home-owners replace smoke detector batteries with a new battery at least once per year, when it starts chirping (a signal that its charge is low), or when it fails a test, which the NFPA recommends to be carried out at least once per month by pressing the “test” button on the alarm. Contact Associated Fire Protection for more information regarding smoke detectors and other fire protection and safety needs. Also visit our online store to browse a variety of smoke detectors available for purchase. Associated Fire Protection * 100 Jackson Street, Paterson NJ, 07501 * 866-812-3473 *