Counties May Amend Sprinkler System Requirements for Limited Time

As previously reported on Conduit Street, the Maryland General Assembly passed legislation ( HB 366 /SB 602) during the 2012 Session that prohibits local governments from weakening sprinkler system requirements in the Maryland Building Performance Standards for townhouses and one- and two-family dwellings, subject to certain very limited exceptions.  On June 28 Director of the Maryland Codes Administration Edward Landon released an announcement stating how the Administration would interpret the regulation.

The announcement states that a local government may continue to amend the sprinkler system requirements through October 1, 2012.  Any local amendments made by October 1 will remain effective until the next building code cycle when the Administration will incorporate the 2015 International Residential Code (IRC) requirements into the Standards.

Although DHCD strongly discourages amendments that weaken the sprinkler system requirements contained in the 2012 IRC, a local jurisdiction that desires to weaken the sprinkler system requirements must do so prior to October 1, 2012 (unless it is under one of the exceptions listed above).  Any local amendments concerning the 2012 IRC sprinkler requirements enacted prior to October 1, 2012 can be in effect locally until the next code cycle.  Local jurisdictions will not be permitted to weaken the sprinkler system requirements in the IRC following the next code cycle when DHCD adopts the 2015 IRC unless it is under one of the limited exceptions.

In a subsequent conversation with MACo Associate Director Les Knapp, Mr. Landon indicated that the offices of the State Fire Marshall and Attorney General have agreed with the Administration’s interpretation.  So if a county wishes to exempt itself from the new sprinkler system requirements, it must do so by October 1. Any exemption will last until the 2015 IRC is incorporated into the Standards, at which point a county must comply with the legislation’s requirements.

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