Recently, the State of Maryland enacted a bill that prohibits local authorities from weakening the fire and life safety standards by removing fire sprinkler requirements from the adopted code. There are numerous documented examples of the life safety and other benefits of home fire sprinklers in the State of Maryland.
In the most recent example a news release issued by the Maryland State Fire Marshal documents two fires during the month of April with very different outcomes. One home was protected with fire sprinklers and the other home was not equipped with the system. According to the report “…two home fires in St. Mary’s County exposed the value of residential fire sprinklers. The outcome of both fires would likely be the same, if both homes had the protection afforded by these life saving systems.”
As reported, on April 6, 2012, a fire began at approximately 10:39 a.m. in a first floor bedroom of a two story wood frame home. The fire progressed into the second floor and through the roof before being extinguished within thirty minutes by the Leonardtown, Hollywood and Bay District Volunteer Fire Departments. No occupants were at home at the time of the fire. Due to the extent of damage to the home, occupants will not be able to move back in for several months. Damage is estimated at $300,000.
In the second example, on April 25, 2012, a fire began at approximately 2:45 p.m. in the kitchen of a two story wood frame home. The fire began in a frying pan and was quickly extinguished by the automatic fire sprinkler system before the flames could grow out of control. The occupant of the home did not receive any injuries during the incident. The kitchen received minor smoke damage, with some water damage in the kitchen and the basement of the home. The occupants were not displaced as a result of the fire. Damage is estimated at $20,000.
State Fire Marshal William E. Barnard stated, “This is yet another example of the effectiveness of the protections afforded by automatic fire sprinklers in residential occupancies. Residential fire sprinklers save lives and property.”
Documenting and comparing fires in homes with and without fire sprinklers is extremely important to make the case for them. Maryland is able to do so readily because many jurisdictions have had fire sprinkler requirements in place for years. However, even if unable to compare because there are not enough homes in your community equipped with sprinklers, it is important to always include information about how much different the outcome would have been with fire sprinklers.
Special thanks to Bruce D. Bouch, MD Deputy State Fire Marshal