As previously reported on Conduit Street, the Star Democrat examined a recent State sprinkler system mandate that is posing affordable housing problems for certain rural areas of the state. (The cost of the sprinkler systems for smaller homes on well and septic is effectively pricing out low-income and some moderate-income home buyers.) In response, State Fire Marshal Brian Geraci sent a letter, dated August 5, 2015, to the Star Democrat arguing the other side of the issue. In the letter, Geraci maintained that sprinkler systems do save lives, even with houses with smoke detectors:
To date [in 2015], we have lost 35 individuals in the State, due to the ravages of fires. In 2014, we saw 64 individuals lose their lives to fires across the State….Residential fire sprinkler systems do save lives and not one person has died from a fire in a sprinkled home or building in the state of Maryland.
Geraci also challenged some of the sprinkler system cost estimates in the earlier Star Democrat article:
The cost for installing fire sprinklers in new homes continues to decline in Maryland and across the country. The current national average cost to sprinkler a new home is $1.35 per sprinkled square foot, which does not include the garage, attic, and small closets as they are not required. Homes that are not supplied by a domestic water system may incur an additional costs of approximately $2,500 for a pump and water tank. The current average cost to sprinkler a new home in Maryland is $1.00 to $2.00 a square foot. The figures quoted in [the Star Democrat] article of the cost ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 would be appropriate for a new home of 3,700 to 18,000 square feet. According to the national Census Bureau, the average home, built in 2013, was approximately 2,600 square feet.