Maryland State Firemen’s Association (MSFA) announced that on Wednesday, May 2, 2012, firefighters celebrated a major milestone in fire safety. A large contingent was in attendance at the Maryland State House as Governor Martin O’Malley signed into law a bill that will mandate the fire sprinkler provision required by the International Residential Code, 2012 edition. NFPA was present at the bill signing event, represented by Gregory Cade, Division Director, Government Affairs, based in Washington, DC.
HB366, and its companion, SB602 prohibit local jurisdictions, with specified exceptions, from adopting local amendments to the Maryland Building Performance Standards if the local amendments weaken automatic fire sprinkler systems provisions contained in the Standards. Local jurisdictions will not be able to “opt out” of the requirement.
According to MSFA the first sprinkler requirements were enacted in Prince Georges County for multi-family dwellings in 1988. Several other counties and municipalities began requiring them throughout the early 2000’s. In 2005, President Lee Sachs of the Maryland state Firemen’s Association, along with the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s office, the Maryland Fire Chiefs Association, the Fire and Burn Safety Coalition of Maryland, and several other groups concerned with fire safety; endeavored to support efforts to get residential sprinkler requirements throughout Maryland. Prince Georges County has become a model for the nation for its successes with home fire sprinklers, demonstrating the life safety and property conservation benefits in a comprehensive report based on 15 years of data.