Building owners who install either sprinklers or elevators in historic multi-use buildings in downtowns would get tax credits from the federal government under legislation introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy.
He made the announcement Friday in St. Johnsbury at the site of buildings that burned down in 2000. Since then two more major fires have struck the city, and none of the buildings had sprinklers. Leahy said the devastation from fires in other towns has also been tragic—and expensive.
"Since 2000 the federal government has invested more than $30 million into re-building burned out buildings in St. Johnsbury, Brattleboro, Enosburg, Hardwick, Springfield, and Wilimington, and I know because I have visited them all. If the sprinkler and elevator credit I proposed today existed, perhaps the federal government could have saved $30 million and even more importantly the three people lost would be with us today," Leahy said.
The state of Vermont has also recently announced $2 million in similar tax credits.
VPR looks at these issues in our week-long series Burned Out: Vermont's Apartment Fires. Visit the series online or hear it beginning Monday August 12 at 7:50 a.m. during Morning Edition.